Cosmetic surgery can change a person’s life a lot. If the patient achieves an optimal result, he or she will have solved an important psychological problem with a great improvement in his or her quality of life. Unfortunately, in some cases this is not the case.
When an operation does not achieve satisfactory results, the individual who had so much hope in surgery, feels much more discontented than before and frustrated by guilt for making the wrong choice.
Not to mention the practical (having to redo an operation, loss of time, isolation from social life etc.) and economic damage that this situation entails. Therefore, a careful choice of surgeon represents the most important step in the path towards the operating room.
What are the rules for not making mistakes in this very delicate phase? I suggest a decalogue that in the vast majority of cases will lead to an accurate evaluation and a right decision.
The title: The important thing is not that he is a doctor or professor but that he is a “Specialist in plastic surgery”. In Italy there is no specialization in aesthetic medicine and there is a big difference between a “plastic surgeon” and an “aesthetic doctor”. The former has experience in surgical operations while the latter deals only with surface and injectable medical treatments.
Belonging to a scientific society: belonging to a scientific society does not necessarily mean being a good surgeon. On the other hand, not belonging to any society is certainly not a good sign. In Italy there are only two scientific societies in this sector: one of essentially aesthetic plastic surgery, the “AICPE”, and one of reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgery, the “SICPRE”.
The best surgeons are often members of other foreign or international companies, among which the most important are: the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS).
Experience: it may be trivial to say, but experience is of enormous value. A specialist in plastic surgery who very rarely practices cosmetic surgery offers fewer guarantees than those who have cosmetic surgery as their field of action.
Aesthetic surgery is a very specialized field and unfortunately it is attended by many non-specialist doctors who learn little and bad and boast seductive titles but not truthful about their actual validity.
Updating: in a world that is so fast, in which knowledge progresses rapidly, all scientific disciplines are in continuous and progressive improvement. It is the duty of every specialist to keep abreast of the progress of cosmetic surgery so as to be able to offer the patient the most advanced techniques in the field.
Unfortunately, however, a serious and functional update requires time, energy and money. Not all surgeons are willing to invest in this direction. Therefore, it is essential to find out on the Internet if the surgeon you are evaluating is present in national and international congresses, if he has publications, in short, if he exists in the scientific world beyond the entrance door of his office.
Fame: some surgeons are often in the media (newspapers, television, etc.). Does this mean that they are necessarily the best? Certainly not. To be in the media you need to have a good press office or be friends with someone on television or in a newspaper, you don’t need to be a good surgeon.
This does not mean that many of those who go on television are not good surgeons. But it is certainly not the popularity of the media that does not offer any guarantee of a professional’s ability. Much more indicative is the reputation among operated patients, who are a testament to the value and achievements of the practitioner. A patient who tells you about her surgery and her relationship with the surgeon is more valuable than a low-level television broadcast.
Internet: there is no doubt that the magic net is the easiest and quickest source of information. But you need to know how to use it. Remember that in the field of cosmetic surgery there is, alas, a lot of marketing and many surgeons invest more on their website than on scientific updating.
And often the information found on the sites is attractive and dazzling. Pre- and post-operative photographs are among the elements that most deceive patients and that do not give any guarantee of results.
They can be retouched, borrowed or even copied from books, so the only valid use of these images is to be useful to understand the taste of the surgeon or to reason with the same on a certain type of result.
A surgeon who shows a photograph and guarantees that the result will be identical to that image is rarely a serious professional. The Internet is the ideal source to find out about the physician’s curriculum, to research his publications, to participate in refresher courses and conferences, and finally to know what’s behind the scenes, since the curtain is visible without the use of a computer.
The study and the clinic where the surgery will be carried out: it is not the luxury of these environments that must be an important attraction. Of course, a surgeon visiting a beauty salon where massages and hair removal are carried out is not very well presented, but this does not mean that those who sit behind a luxurious desk of puppet memory offer a greater guarantee of seriousness. Instead, the structure where the intervention will be carried out, that is fundamental.
It must be a high quality environment where the operating room, the ward are in accordance with the rules and where, in case of interventions under general anesthesia, there is an intensive resuscitation therapy that can be used by the surgeon in emergency situations.
Some cosmetic surgery operations can last up to 5-6 hours and, even if very rare, complications may arise that require particularly careful assistance and therefore a specially equipped environment. Some patients prefer to be operated on in an outpatient clinic rather than in a clinic, because the nursing home creates a certain fear for them. The opposite is true: a serious clinic offers more and more guarantees than any other outpatient clinic.
Costs: is there any way to know what is the right cost of an intervention? Obviously not. It’s clear that the highly experienced, well-known surgeon who works in a high-level facility and uses the highest quality materials (such as breast implants) will have costs that can be more than twice those of another professional where everything is more modest.
In any case, it is important to know that the variability of costs is not only a function of the surgeon’s fees but also, and in an important way, of the quality of the clinic, the anaesthesia team and the materials used. For a pair of prostheses that cost 600 euros there are others that cost 1,600 and there too there is a great difference in technology and quality.
I would not waste time talking about the offers “pay two and take three” or the proposals to the bottom of which the network is full. Aesthetic surgery is not a business, it is a serious profession to be practiced honestly, responsibly and with the sole purpose of making patients happy.
It is clear that the surgeon lives off the fees he receives from patients, but it is even more evident that a serious professional will never operate on a patient on whom he may not have a good result, just for the sake of profit.