Plastic surgery always goes as planned

How do I find the right surgeon for cosmetic surgery?

Cosmetic Surgery - Criteria for Choosing a Surgeon

Cosmetic surgery has long been out of the reach of the top ten thousand. The operative beautification of the body and face has long since arrived in the midst of society. As studies show, every second German is dissatisfied with their appearance. At the same time, an aesthetically pleasing appearance is becoming more and more important in our society. This may contribute to the fact that the social acceptance of cosmetic surgery has grown significantly over the past decade and continues to do so. More and more people are deciding to positively change their appearance with a surgical procedure - the demand for doctors who perform cosmetic operations is correspondingly high.

Unfortunately, this development has led to the fact that in the field of cosmetic surgery there are also doctors who do not have the necessary qualifications to perform such operations. They take advantage of a gray area that the legislature has created through unclear legal provisions. Business interests often come before the well-being of the patient. Interventions that are not carried out professionally not only mean unnecessary suffering for the patient - they also damage an entire profession, which is often unjustly criticized. It is not easy for the layperson to find their way around here. But there are definitely meaningful criteria and important clues that are helpful in choosing the right doctor. In this article, we have summarized everything you need to know about choosing a doctor.

The most important point: the professional qualification

The qualification of a cosmetic surgeon is crucial for the success of cosmetic surgery and is therefore one of the most important criteria when choosing a doctor. Unfortunately, the general term cosmetic surgeon is a rather misleading term because it says nothing about a corresponding professional qualification in this field. Contrary to popular belief, cosmetic surgeon is not a protected title. Every doctor can identify himself as such and carry out the corresponding operations without having had any special professional training. Even the designation “cosmetic” or “aesthetic” surgeon says nothing about a corresponding additional qualification. Often the title of cosmetic surgeon conceals doctors who have not completed any professional training.

In contrast to this, the training to become a plastic and aesthetic surgeon (i.e. a specialist in plastic and aesthetic surgery) represents high quality and long-term medical training. It stands for a separate specialist training that takes six years to complete. Here it quickly becomes clear where the difference lies. In six long years, the future specialist will acquire profound knowledge in the field of plastic and aesthetic surgery, which is of fundamental importance for the successful performance of cosmetic surgery. During the six-year specialist training, the focus is not only on theoretical knowledge but also on surgical practice. Every doctor who undergoes further training to become a specialist in plastic and aesthetic surgery must perform at least 600 operations under the guidance of an experienced (mostly older) plastic surgeon before he can finally take the specialist examination. The content of further training to become a specialist in plastic and aesthetic surgery is clearly defined by the further training regulations of the German Medical Association.
If a doctor has the title of specialist in plastic and aesthetic surgery, you can be sure that the doctor in question has the necessary qualifications for a cosmetic surgery procedure. However, the doctor of your choice should also regularly attend training courses to keep abreast of the latest medical findings and procedures. Any serious surgeon will be happy to answer your question.

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Which areas does plastic and aesthetic surgery actually cover?

The subject area consists of four different fields of work that form the pillars of plastic and aesthetic surgery. The interventions carried out can have functional or aesthetic reasons, depending on the sub-area.

Reconstructive surgery:

It includes surgical corrections of physical defects and limitations caused by injuries, accidents, tumors or congenital malformations.

Aesthetic surgery:

It serves to remove aesthetic flaws. These can either be innate or unsightly changes in appearance that occur gradually over the course of life. The aim of the treatment is to positively change the patient's visual appearance.

Hand surgery:

It treats injuries, malformations and diseases of the hand and forearm.

Burn surgery:

It corrects injuries caused by severe burns.

Membership in a professional association

Another indication of the professional qualification of a cosmetic surgeon is membership in a renowned professional association. The DGPRÄC (German Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons) is the oldest professional association in Germany in this field. Only doctors who have passed a specialist examination as a plastic and aesthetic surgeon or plastic surgeon are accepted. This is by no means the case in all associations - some have far less strict admission criteria. The DGPRÄC is a professional association and scientific society at the same time - the tasks range from quality assurance to research and advanced training. That is why the company is in constant dialogue with medical associations and various umbrella organizations such as the World Association of Plastic Surgeons (IPRAS) and the German Society for Surgery.
Further information on the psychological advantages of cosmetic surgery can be found here.

Experience counts too

The extent to which a surgeon is suitable for the respective procedure does not only depend on his training. Surgery experience also plays a decisive role here. The more often the surgeon has already carried out a certain procedure, the more experienced and confident he will be in implementing the treatment goals. The specified treatment focuses or specializations are meaningful reference points and usually indicate extensive experience in this area. Experienced surgeons can usually fall back on an extensive card index of before and after images. These comparison images not only say something about the professional competence and experience of the surgeon - they also give the patient an impression of which changes are possible.
In Germany, by the way, it has been legally prohibited for a number of years to show before-and-after pictures on the practice website. However, it is still allowed to show the before and after pictures in the individual consultation in the practice.

Choice of materials used

But when choosing the surgeon, there are far more aspects to consider than professional qualifications and experience. This also includes the question of which materials are used in cosmetic surgery. A responsible doctor, for whom the health of his patients has absolute priority, will only work with high-quality and certified materials that offer the greatest possible safety. The scandal surrounding inferior silicone implants has shown the fatal consequences that can arise from this. Although these incidents are a thing of the past, doctors still have a responsibility to ensure the high quality of the materials.

Cosmetic surgery is a matter of trust

The personal aspect should also not be neglected in a planned cosmetic operation. After all, you first want to get an impression of the person to whom you entrust your body. A first preliminary talk with your surgeon gives you the opportunity to get a personal impression of the situation. A reputable cosmetic surgeon takes a lot of time for this conversation. Ideally, you have a surgeon in front of you who has both technical and human competence and whom you trust.

Interest in personal motives and expectations

Precisely because cosmetic surgery is usually a matter of interventions that are not medically necessary, it is part of the professional ethics of a cosmetic surgeon to check the motives for the operation before performing an operation. Aesthetic surgery undoubtedly has its right to exist - even if there is no medical need for an intervention. It is not uncommon for aesthetic defects to lead to psychological problems and restrictions in everyday life, which can be remedied by cosmetic surgery. For this reason alone, the surgeon will always take the patient seriously with his problem. If the reasons given by the patient can be understood by the surgeon, he will also inquire about the wishes and expectations that the patient associates with the procedure. Not infrequently, those willing to operate have unrealistic expectations of the desired correction - here it is up to the doctor to inform the patient about it. A responsible doctor will not make disproportionate surgical changes just because the patient so wishes. Nor will he arouse exaggerated expectations himself. He will always try to achieve the most natural result possible. Of course, the surgeon should also inquire about your history and any previous illnesses. Only in this way can he determine whether there is anything medically against the procedure.

Transparency and comprehensive information

Once these aspects have been clarified, the surgeon will explain the advantages and disadvantages of suitable treatment methods to you and explain any associated risks. The exact course of the procedure and the necessary aftercare should also be an issue. If possible, the doctor should be able to answer all questions in a form that the layperson can understand. This is the only way for the patient to weigh the benefits and risks against one another without bias and to make a self-determined decision. Be suspicious if a doctor directly or indirectly urges you to make a quick decision, for example by pointing out that there are only a few available appointments. Healthy suspicion is also appropriate if the surgeon suggests an intervention that goes beyond what you want. Only opt for an intervention if you trust the doctor and feel that you are in good hands.

Equipment of the practice clinic and assured follow-up care

Of course, you should also make sure that the practice or clinic meets all the necessary requirements for the planned procedure and works according to the highest hygienic standards. This can also be important in the event of possible complications. Both modern technical equipment and qualified personnel play an important role here. For operations under general anesthesia, an anesthetist - i.e. a trained anesthetist - must be present to monitor the patient's vital functions during the entire procedure. In the case of an inpatient stay, postoperative care by specialist staff must also be guaranteed at all times. It is not uncommon for cosmetic surgery interventions to be associated with intensive aftercare. Your surgeon should also be available for you after the procedure and accompany you through the follow-up care in an advisory capacity.

The question of costs

Last but not least, for many people the question of cost is a decisive criterion when choosing a surgeon. Understandable, because not everyone can easily afford cosmetic surgery. Nevertheless, a healthy skepticism is in order with very low prices. Not infrequently, supposed bargain offers turn out to be dubious. Too often there are hidden costs that are later added to the stated price. Medication during an inpatient stay, anesthesia or aftercare services are not always included in the offer. So make sure from the start that all measures and services that may be required are included in the total costs. A lack of professional qualifications can also be a reason for particularly favorable offers. In this case, a lower price can turn out to be dear - because you may pay with your health or later have to live with unsatisfactory results. Therefore, the question of cost should by no means be in the foreground when choosing a doctor.

Cosmetic surgery abroad

Particular caution is required with offers abroad. Here it is hardly possible to assess in advance from a distance to what extent the surgeon and clinic are qualified and suitable for the procedure. Adequate follow-up care is also often difficult, as it can stretch over several weeks. Last but not least, it can be very stressful if staff and doctors do not speak your native language or only speak insufficiently - especially if there are complications or the situation develops differently than anticipated.

Warning signals:

  • The surgeon is not interested in the reasons behind your operation request.
  • He does not ask you what expectations you associate with the procedure.
  • The doctor does not ask about possible previous illnesses and risk factors that could speak against an operation.
  • The cosmetic surgeon evades your questions. He does not take your concerns seriously and describes the procedure as problem-free and risk-free.
  • In the preliminary discussion, you will be urged to make a quick decision or to undertake a more extensive procedure than you planned.
  • The doctor will ask you to pay a deposit in the preliminary consultation. As a rule, the surgery fee is only due immediately before the operation.
  • The preliminary talk will be conducted by a different doctor than your future surgeon.

Conclusion:

Even the most comprehensive information can only be used to help you find the right surgeon. Even if your professional qualifications and other requirements are right, a personal interview will only decide whether you have actually found the doctor you trust.

More questions about aesthetic surgery? Make an appointment now!