Frequently Asked Questions
IS COSMETIC SURGERY APPROPRIATE FOR ME?
Human societies admire youth and strength, and cosmetic surgery provides an important additional tool to restore or maintain a more attractive, youthful, vibrant appearance.
You may be an upwardly mobile executive at the top of the sales force who worries that your appearance does not reflect your inner energy and vitality. Or, you may exercise religiously and use extreme care in what you eat, but simply can’t shrink those wide hips or that roll at the belt line. It may be that no matter how many sit-ups you do, the tummy muscles that protected your child during pregnancy just won’t shrink back to where they were five years before. Sometimes our anatomy is just not responsive to non-surgical options. That is when cosmetic surgery can play a role.
Your parents may have resigned themselves to having an appearance that troubled them because there were few or no options available for their generation. Now there are many options to achieve the appearance you desire. Financing plans also enable more people to choose cosmetic surgery.
WHY DO I LOOK OLDER THAN OTHER PEOPLE MY AGE? HOW CAN I LOOK YOUNGER?
Both genetics and lifestyle determine the factors of aging. Since all of us are constantly under the effects of gravity, sagging skin is inevitable. We all know people who are blessed with timeless faces that appear decades younger than their actual age. Likewise, there are people who appear much older than their biological age. Aging of the face makes people look tired or angry, even when they feel just the opposite.
Aging is a process that can’t be stopped. The forces of gravity, the sun, and genetics seek to undermine our youthful appearance. Gravity constantly exerts a force on our skin, which slowly gives way. The sun emits light wavelengths that slowly but subtly age our skin, and our genetic programming tells the body to store fat in specific places in the body, rather than to burn it as energy.
No one can stop the aging process, but the good news is that we can correct some of the effects of aging. We can tighten skin that has been stretched by gravity. We can promote regeneration of healthy skin by removing layers that have been damaged by the sun. And we can remove fat deposits that come about as a consequence of age, genetics, diet or limitations in physical activity.
WHAT CAN COSMETIC SURGERY DO FOR ME?
Cosmetic surgeons are innovators in surgery and medicine. Improvement in cosmetic surgery techniques and new options are greater than ever before. No longer is cosmetic surgery always synonymous with major surgery. Many newer techniques involve more modest, subtle changes. As a result, colleagues and friends will have a hard time determining you have actually had cosmetic surgery (as opposed to a wonderful, relaxing vacation) and time away from your busy schedule is minimized.
WHO IS HAVING COSMETIC SURGERY?
Cosmetic surgery is becoming increasingly accepted in our society. Discussions are increasingly commonplace on television and radio, as well as in magazines and newspapers regarding peels, skin treatments and body contouring. The number of younger woman, men and even teens having cosmetic surgery is growing as it becomes more accepted and safer than ever before.
I AM CONCERNED ABOUT MAJOR SURGERY AND RECOVERY TIME.
Plastic surgeons have always been innovators in the fields of surgery and medicine. This innovative approach has resulted in improvements in cosmetic surgery techniques, as well as in a much broader range of treatment options than ever before. No longer is cosmetic surgery always synonymous with major surgery. Cosmetic surgery with less down time and less drastic changes are performed with greater and greater frequency.
Recent advances in cosmetic surgery techniques and approaches offer options for correction that range from subtle to dramatic. The use of endoscopes with small television cameras and small instruments allow more exact corrections with less swelling and faster healing. As a result, mini-facelifts, mini-abdominoplasty (tummy tucks), and other procedures involving relatively small corrections can be made with short recovery and minimal risk. Non-surgical options are also useful for maintenance of your look and more subtle improvements.
WILL MY FRIENDS KNOW?
Yes And No. People seek cosmetic surgery because they want to improve their appearance. They expect to look more youthful, more energetic, and more vibrant. They want to look like themselves, only better. Cosmetic surgery, when performed well, does all of this. Good cosmetic surgery is not obvious or un-natural in appearance. It gets you noticed in a positive way, partly because of the improvement in external appearance and partially because of what it does for the individual on the inside.
On the other hand, poorly executed cosmetic surgery is obvious. It can make people look too young for the rest of their face or body. It can stand out as un-natural and look un-balanced. What patients don’t want are drastic changes that look artificial or fake.
HOW LONG WILL MY NEW LOOK LAST?
Cosmetic surgery can turn back the clock on your appearance. But time marches on after surgery. The clock races no faster for you than for anyone else. If your surgery has turned back the clock 10 years, you will continue to age, but you will always look 10 years younger than you would have if you had never had surgery. Therefore, the positive changes that are a result of cosmetic surgery really do last forever.
IF I HAVE COSMETIC SURGERY, DO I HAVE TO HAVE IT AGAIN AND AGAIN?
Many people believe that once you have cosmetic surgery, you must have it repeated over time for the rest of your life. This is far from the truth. Some patients use cosmetic surgery to correct an aspect of their appearance that troubles them, and once it is corrected, never desire cosmetic surgery again. But many people who have experienced the joy and positive benefits of cosmetic surgery return for additional procedures or to maintain the look they had before time marched ahead and their face continued to age.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE BOARD CERTIFIED?
In general, board certification requires three things:
- Graduation from a recognized medical school
- Satisfactory completion of a residency-training program of a length that is deemed appropriate by the board in that specialty
- Completion of a written and usually an oral examination administered by the board in that specialty
When researching cosmetic surgeons, look for a surgeon that is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Other surgeons may perform cosmetic surgery, but their training may not be as extensive as that of a board certified plastic surgeon.
WHAT IS A MEDICAL BOARD?
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) oversees all medical board certifications in the United States. ABMS recognizes all the boards of the different medical specialties. To date, only 24 boards have met the strict educational and examination criteria of the ABMS. For example, the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), the American Board of Internal Medicine, and the American Board of Pediatrics, are all recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. They must answer to the American Board of Medical Specialties and comply with the rules and regulations with regard to allowing physicians the privilege of board certification.
ABMS only recognizes one board certification for plastic surgery, the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Although residency-training programs in Otolaryngology (ENT) require some exposure to cosmetic surgery, individuals with board certification in ENT and dermatology are not board certified cosmetic surgeons.
WHAT ARE MEDICAL SOCIETIES VERSUS MEDICAL BOARDS?
Medical societies are not medical boards. In general, medical society memberships only require payment of dues and submission of an application. Most do not require board certification in any medical specialty. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons only allows members who have already become board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
WHAT ABOUT FELLOWSHIPS?
Fellowships are largely unregulated periods of training that occur following residency. Any MD may take a fellowship in cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic Surgery Fellowships are offered at a variety of centers and private practices throughout the country and the world. The curricula and training credentials are not regulated by the ABMS. Despite claims to the contrary, taking a fellowship in cosmetic surgery is never a substitute for a rigorous two or three-year residency in an ABMS-approved plastic surgery training program. Board certification is never rendered for physicians completing only fellowships in cosmetic surgery because these fellowships are not recognized by the ABMS.
HOW CAN I TELL IF MY COSMETIC SURGEON IS A MEMBER OF A RECOGNIZED BOARD?
The ABMS may be contacted at 949-640-9570 if you would like to learn whether your cosmetic surgeon is board certified in plastic surgery.