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Considerations when Choosing a Surgeon

With so many doctors and other medical professionals offering cosmetic procedures, how do you decide on a practice that’s right for you? It can be a challenge, but Dr. Wagner is here to help with some advice for prospective patients. Choosing plastic surgery is an important decision, and the biggest factor in a satisfying outcome is the quality of your Indianapolis cosmetic plastic surgeon. Whether you’re considering cosmetic surgery to improve your appearance or reconstructive surgery to correct defects or improve function, you want a board-certified plastic surgeon with the skill and training to help achieve your goals.

Board Certification: Buyer Beware

In recent years, many physicians (including non-surgeons) and other medical providers have been offering cosmetic treatments and procedures. Does board certification protect the public against this? NO! The term “board certified” physician can often be confusing to the public and is sometimes used as a less-than-truthful branding of competence. Board certification does not typically limit the scope of practice of a physician. In fact, calling oneself a cosmetic specialist and offering cosmetic services does not, per se, even require board certification! Furthermore, it is possible to be board-certified in a nonsurgical or non-plastic surgical specialty, call oneself a cosmetic specialist, and have no training whatsoever in plastic surgery! Unfortunately, many “cosmetic” physicians are not residency-trained in plastic or cosmetic surgery, and may have little (or no) training in plastic or cosmetic surgery procedures.

The Real Board Certification in Plastic Surgery

The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Surgeons with this certification are uniquely qualifed to perform a comprehensive menu of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures for the entire face and body. ABPS surgeons have completed a minimum of at least five years of surgical training following medical school, including a plastic surgery residency program. During this intensive program, surgeons learn to perform surgical procedures for the entire body and face. They also develop their technical skill and aesthetic judgment. After training, a surgeon must pass comprehensive oral and written exams before being granted certification. Remember, ONLY American Board of Plastic Surgery certificate holders are board certified PLASTIC SURGEONS – these doctors have years of specific training in plastic and cosmetic surgery and procedures of the face and body.

Hospital Privileges

In the process of choosing a cosmetic plastic surgeon in Indianapolis, it is also important to ask about the surgeon’s hospital privileges. A board-certified plastic surgeon will most likely have full privileges to perform your surgery anywhere. This is one way to safeguard against untrained physicians or those practicing outside of their scope of training.

Facilities

In general, the best facilities plastic and cosmetic surgery are those physically connected to a full service hospital. Freestanding surgery centers or office-based procedures may offer the allure of lower cost, but may sacrifice important safeguards such as objective and thorough peer-reviewed physician credentialing, board certification, and comprehensive medical care should the rare serious complication occur. If you are planning to have surgery in your doctor’s office or at a freestanding surgery center, it is still important to find out if your surgeon (and anesthesiologist) has operating privileges in an accredited hospital for the same procedure. Before granting privileges, hospital review committees evaluate a surgeon’s training and competency for specific procedures.

Comprehensiveness of Practice

Some doctors or practices market label themselves as “exclusively cosmetic” in orientation. Although it may seem that those who do only cosmetic procedures may be the “best,” this is a misleading concept. While the initial cosmetic operation may be technically straightforward, results are not always ideal in anyone’s hands. The fact is, revisions or correction of complications are considerably more difficult and, in many cases, fall more within the reconstructive surgery realm. It is therefore actually quite important to have a surgeon skilled in all aspects of reconstructive surgery. For example, a patient considering breast augmentation should inquire if their prospective surgeon also does breast reductions or breast cancer reconstruction. It is very important to know what complications can arise and how they will be managed. From a practical standpoint, it is common for many purely cosmetic surgeons not to participate in a wide range of insurance plans or Medicare, etc. This can be a very costly reality for the patient should a major complication requiring hospitalization or further surgery occur. Lastly, practices that offer only cosmetic surgery may be unprepared to handle a true medical emergency or an ill patient.

Dr. Wagner is board certified (and recertified) by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In addition, Dr. Wagner is also a member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), established in 1931, which is the largest plastic surgery specialty organization in the world. During his career, Dr. Wagner has performed over 7,000 life-changing plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic operations and has trained many of the busiest Indianapolis area plastic surgeons. In keeping with the best interests of his patients, Dr. Wagner performs most surgeries in the Indiana Surgery Center, which is connected to Community North Hospital, one of the largest and most comprehensive full service hospitals in Indianapolis. He also is fully credentialed and maintains privileges at most major hospitals in the greater Indianapolis area. Learn more about the hospitals and groups Dr. Wagner is associated with on his Related Resources page.