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How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon

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In Greater Austin, there are plenty of plastic surgeons to choose from, and we understand how important this decision is – and how difficult it can be. That's why Dr. Rocco C. Piazza and his team have put together this helpful guide to ensure you have the tools to find a physician who puts your health, safety, and satisfaction first.

At The Piazza Center, we believe that beautiful surgical results are enhanced by leading a healthy lifestyle. Our aim is to help you achieve your cosmetic goals and desires. If you would like to find out more information about Dr. Piazza and the services he offers, you can request a consultation online, or call our office at (512) 551-1067.

Education & Credentials

Among the criteria you should look for are a solid academic background, board certification, and other achievements and professional affiliations. Education should include undergraduate and medical degrees, followed by additional residencies or fellowship training, specifically in the field of plastic surgery. When a surgeon, such as Dr. Piazza, has a history of achieving distinctions such as summa cum laude or "with honors," it's a good sign that they have high expectations of themselves and their work. A good surgeon should make this information readily available in the form of a CV.

The surgeon should also be certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery, which is the only plastic surgery board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. This certification shows that the surgeon has undergone years of intensive study and practical experience and has proven through written and oral exams that he or she meets rigorous standards of competence.

It's also a good sign if the surgeon is affiliated with respected hospitals and groups such as state medical associations and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. One important organization to look for is the American College of Surgeons. Members are referred to as "Fellows," and the letters FACS (Fellow, American College of Surgeons) after a surgeon's name mean the surgeon's education and training, professional qualifications, surgical competence, and ethical conduct have passed rigorous evaluation and have been found consistent with the group's high standards.

The surgeon should also be able to provide you with proof of certification or membership for these groups. For instance, Dr. Piazza is always glad to provide his board certification information for all of his Austin plastic surgery patients.

Questions to Ask Your Surgeon

  • What is your educational background?
  • Are you certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery?
  • Are you a member of reputable industry groups?
  • Are you affiliated with any hospitals?

Experience With Your Procedure

Once those initial criteria are met, it's wise to start researching more specific information about the procedure you want. Some surgeons, such as Dr. Piazza, offer a range of treatments for the face, breasts, and body, while others may have a broader or narrower focus.

It's vital for a surgeon to have experience with not just your procedure of choice, but also with the specific options that you are interested in. You may want a certain breast augmentation incision or implant style, for instance, so finding out whether the doctor offers those options is important. A surgeon should be able to explain why he or she prefers certain techniques and products and what options would be best in your case.

A good way to know whether a surgeon has experience in a certain procedure before booking a consultation is by perusing the photo galleries most surgeons include on their websites. You should look for a variety of cases with patients of different body types and consistently beautiful results.

Questions to Ask Your Surgeon

  • How many times have you performed this procedure?
  • Can you show me before-and-after photos of your past patients?
  • What specific techniques do you use for this procedure?
  • Have you encountered complications performing this surgery?

Staff & Facilities

Beyond a surgeon's qualifications and skills, you should evaluate the important things that support the physician's work, namely the practice staff and facilities. Throughout the course of planning and undergoing cosmetic procedures, you will come into contact with many people from the practice staff, including reception staff, care coordinators, aestheticians, nurses, and anesthesiologists. These people play a large role in ensuring that you are comfortable, healthy, and in good spirits. It's wise to research these team members' experience and even ask to meet with them during a consultation.

The facility where a plastic surgery procedure is performed should also be a determining factor. Whether the surgeon has a private surgical suite or operates in a hospital or outpatient surgery center, that facility should be outfitted with top-of-the-line equipment and meet strict standards of hygiene and safety. In the United States, surgical facilities are accredited by the prestigious American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, or AAAASF.

Questions to Ask Your Surgeon

  • Who will be a part of my medical team?
  • What are their credentials, and can I meet them?
  • Where will my surgery be performed?
  • Is that facility accredited by the AAAASF?

Testimonials & Reviews

It's common to find plastic surgeons through a recommendation from a friend or loved one. For those who don't have a connection, though, testimonials and reviews from past patients can be a major asset. Online reviews sites can help you find surgeons in your area who have high satisfaction ratings from past patients. Yelp and RealSelf are among the most popular websites for candid patient reviews.

Surgeons should also be able to provide reviews directly. Some feature these on testimonial pages on their websites, as Dr. Piazza does. They should also be able to provide more reviews in the office and give patients contact information so they can speak to past patients. This access lets you find out about things that might not otherwise be covered during a consultation, such as details about bedside manner.

Questions to Ask Your Surgeon

  • Do you have strong satisfaction ratings among your patients?
  • Can you show me testimonials from past patients?
  • Can you provide contact information for past patients I can speak with?

That Extra Something Special

If you ask most satisfied plastic surgery patients what they loved about their surgeons, you'll hear some talk of credentials and skills. What really seems to stick with patients, though, is the personal connection they make with their physicians. It's not always easy for patients to open up about things that make them feel insecure, so finding a surgeon who makes them feel comfortable and respected can make a world of difference in their overall satisfaction.

In many cases, surgeons who are beloved by their patients have natural warmth and compassion, and a sincere interest in helping their patients to feel and look great. Surgeons illustrate this through thorough consultations that answer every question, through showing an interest in your overall wellness, and through making sure to respect your time and opinions, among other things. For many patients, this factor in choosing a surgeon comes down to a gut feeling based on trust and mutual understanding.

Questions to Ask Yourself

In this case, you should ask questions of yourself rather than your potential surgeon. For instance, how did you feel when you left the consultation? Like you had all the knowledge you needed to make a decision? Like your doctor truly understood what you meant when you described your goals? Instead of feeling unsure, did you instead feel excited about the possibilities?

If you answer yes when you ask yourself those kinds of questions, and if all the other factors also fall into place, then you may have found the surgeon for you.

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