You've tapped your friends, family and even your physician to find a quality surgeon. But identifying someone comfortable with advanced procedures like the Composite facelift requires even more attention to detail. You'll need to examine the qualifications of your best candidates very carefully and should consider their education, training, and their board certifications. A number of questions should be answered:
Many doctors marketing facial rejuvenation come from other specialties such as dermatology and oral surgery. Granted, they may have one or two years of additional training along with their first specialty. But they don't undergo the same five- or six-year plastic surgery residency that surgeons devoted to this field take on to fine-tune their reconstructive and cosmetic skills. An aesthetic surgeon spends three to five years in general surgery or otorhinolaryngology with an additional two to three years focused on plastic surgery.
Plastic surgeons receive training primarily in reconstructive procedures, but they're also exposed to cosmetic surgery. By the time a new aesthetic surgeon is established, he or she has spent many hours mastering plastic surgery skills under the tutelage of many others. Some physicians polish their abilities through post-residency fellowships with a physician or in a hospital program. But the real fine-tuning for cosmetic surgeons comes over the next years as they build their experience and reputations for very good work. Throughout that time, they are constantly engaged in continuing education. Although updating your skills is a requirement in medicine, good cosmetic surgeons want to do it routinely to perform the best procedures they can.
Board certification means that your surgeon has jumped through additional rigorous credentialing hoops put in place by a medical specialty to demonstrate competence. Although it's voluntary, it indicates that your doctor has completed an accredited residency program and passed a series of required oral and written exams. You want your surgeon to be a “diplomate” (or “candidate” if their status is pending) of the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). ABPS is the only plastic surgery organization recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). ABPS diplomates have demonstrated proficiency in a full spectrum of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. They are ready, in terms of their knowledge and preparation, to take on your face.
You can find a qualified cosmetic surgeon who is not board certified, but having the ABPS seal of approval means your physician has demonstrated that they're committed enough to quality clinical outcomes and patient safety to be evaluated by their peers. ABPS certification also shows that they are willing to engage in continuing education. Since certifications are usually renewed every 10 years, you will want to see if your surgeon's status is up-to-date. You can check a surgeon's certification status at www.abms.org.
Dr. Hamra notes that there are two other specialties which supply highly qualified surgeons to the field. Ophthalmic plastic surgeons are ophthalmologists who have advanced training in plastic and reconstructive surgery of the eyelids. They are the doctors that many surgeons depend on when eyelid problems are seen following surgery. Plastic surgeons doing advanced techniques usually maintain a strong and respectful relationship with these surgeons. There are also the facial plastic surgeons, who are ENT (ear, nose, and throat) surgeons with advanced training. There are many respected surgeons from this specialty and some of the most significant advances in rhinoplasty (nasal) surgery have come from this group.
Board certification is certainly an indicator of a physician's readiness to perform plastic surgery. But experience trumps everything, especially if the goal is to correct the ills of a past procedure with a new approach! You really want someone who has proved their skills with conventional procedures before taking on the Composite technique. Why is that important? To be adept at an advanced procedure, the surgeon should first be comfortable moving your facial tissue with basic approaches.
The number of procedures a surgeon performs per month is not an essential consideration unless it shows that the doctor puts other cosmetic or reconstructive surgeries over facelifts. The bigger key is that the surgeon you choose knows and has experience with advanced techniques like the Composite technique. Since the learning curve for this approach is steep, not everyone who generates beautiful results with traditional facelifts will be interested in performing its sophisticated maneuvers. In fact, most aesthetic surgeons still do the SMAS procedure exclusively, in large part because they're comfortable with it. The problem arises if you need a correction. By undergoing the same technique that caused the distortions in the first place, you put yourself at risk for even more problems in the future. An aesthetic surgeon who can perform a Composite Facelift will be able to demonstrate that he or she has an entirely different plan.