Patients in Scottsdale considering cosmetic facial surgery or treatments that will affect the appearance of their face often find themselves adrift in a sea of web sites for doctors and other practitioners who hold themselves out as specialists, usually listing their distinctions in a format that is hard to understand. I was talking about this to one of my siblings who asked me, "What does it matter as long as the person is a good surgeon?"
It's a good point...how can anyone tell by looking at a web site or even meeting a surgeon in person whether or not they are skilled and knowledgeable? What can one do to make sure they get the right person to meet their needs? Is it just a matter of who has "good hands?"
Of course, there is no way to REALLY know if you are going to meet the right surgeon for you. This is not a new problem. In fact, the very reason different academic medical boards have been founded and continue to have strict criteria for membership is to help you (the patient) make the best decision in your selection process. Still, these boards only require competency and can't assure you will get someone who is truly excellent.
What can be done, then, to give you the best odds of finding the right person?
First, the best candidate should have the right training. Of course, I am biased because I am a specialist who chose to dedicate my career to cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the face only. As facial plastic surgeons, my colleagues and I have spent at least six years of post-graduate medical training operating on the face and neck exclusively. Contrast facial plastic surgeons with those in any other specialty, including plastic surgeons (who also perform breast and body work), eye surgeons (who learn retina and cornea surgery but lack extensive experience with facial and neck surgery), oral/maxillofacial surgeons (trained in dentistry and facial fractures, but have very limited experience with facial and neck surgery) or other physicians, many of whom have no formal surgical training and you will agree there is a stark difference in training. In my opinion, it is clear you should only trust your face to a facial plastic surgeon.
The next step is to meet the surgeon. Do you find their bedside manner to be pleasing? Do you feel that this person will take care of you throughout the process? Does this person understand your goals and communicate with you in a way that makes you comfortable? These traits may seem to have little to do with your final results, but in fact, a "good surgeon" must understand each patient's needs and expectations in order to achieve the right result. Simply put, it's not just a matter of having good operating skills. Yes, good skills are essential to getting a great result, but communication is at least if not more important!
If you are reading my blog, then you are taking your process of selection very seriously, and you should be applauded. Keep that scrutiny going, be selective, and make sure you are absolutely comfortable with your selection. Treat your face with the greatest of care, because it is part of your identity.