How Do I Find A Safe Doctor?
1. Board Certification
Any surgeon can perform plastic surgery because there are no professional or legal requirements for licensure. This is true even if the surgeon has no experience in plastic surgery and received no training in the field. However, there are certain qualifications granted by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Medical Specialties that certify that a surgeon’s education and experience has been reviewed and that he or she is truly qualified to perform plastic surgery. Do not trust surgeons who have not been board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and who have not received recognition from the American Board of Medical Specialties. A truly qualified surgeon will have received both certifications.
Board certification recognizes that a surgeon has undergone five years of residential training and spent at least three years studying plastic surgery with qualified professionals. Candidates for board certification are also required to pass oral and written exams administered by the board. Ask about your surgeon’s board certification and make sure he or she received it from the American Board of Plastic Surgery, not from another board. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only plastic surgery board accredited by the American Board of Medical Specialties to evaluate surgeons and award board certifications. Some less-qualified surgeons purchase certifications from non-accredited boards to confuse patients and make themselves seem more qualified than they really are. You can contact the American Board of Medical Specialties to find out if your doctor is board certified.
2. Private Office Surgery vs. Hospitalization
Many doctors offer in-office surgical procedures for patient comfort and easy access to his or her trained staff. Private office operations allow patients more time to revive from anesthesia and do not place as much pressure on patients or doctors to get in and out of the operating room.
Even if you would prefer an in-office procedure as opposed to a hospital operating room procedure, it is important to ask your doctor if he has hospital operating room privileges. Along with board certification, this is one of the most important indicators of your surgeon’s expertise and abilities, since only peer-reviewed doctors are given hospital operating room privileges.
Although private office procedures are convenient, you may wish to consider a hospital operating room for your operation. Complications during surgery are rare but serious, and being in a private office means you are unable to receive emergency care immediately. You should discuss your operating room options and any risks of your surgery with your surgeon so that you can make an informed decision about the setting of your procedure.
How Should I Prepare My Home Before My Surgery?
It is important to make your home a clean, pleasant environment for your recovery. You will be spending at least two weeks recuperating from your procedure, so make sure to make any preparations you may need in the week leading up to your operation.
Have lots of pillows in your bedroom and favorite lounging areas. You will need to keep your body in a reclining position while you recover from your surgery, including while you sleep. Placing a few firm, supporting pillows on your bed will keep you sitting up and will help you stay comfortable. Some patients choose to sleep in reclining chairs if they have them.
Clean your living spaces before your procedure. Even light cleaning can be too rigorous in the weeks following your operation. Some patients feel fine because of their post-operative pain medications and try to clean, often because they are bored staying at home. It is important to remember that you can cause damage to your surgical wounds by doing these kinds of activities. Getting your home in order before surgery can reduce the temptation to clean while you are recovering and will leave you feeling relaxed and comfortable. Take things you will need out of cabinets and down from high places. Keeping items like teas, dishes, heating pads, linens and other comfort items within easy reach keeps you from overexerting yourself while you are still healing. Reaching up on your tiptoes for any of these things can cause pain and may damage your stitches.
What Should I Do the Day of My Surgery?
Your doctor will give you an instruction sheet that will guide you through what you should and should not do and bring to the hospital. Make sure to follow the directions carefully since they have been carefully written to keep you safe and make sure your surgery is successful.
These instructions usually include the following:
Remove all jewelry, including piercings. Jewelry can cause problems with many aspects of surgical procedures, including anesthesia. Piercings can also become damaged by surgical dressings or other equipment used during the operation. Talk to your doctor about any piercings you have that you cannot remove. The medical team will have to remove any jewelry, including piercings, they were not informed of. Loose articles of jewelry can get lost, so it is best to leave them at home. Do not wear contact lenses. Bring your glasses in a safe case or pouch. Wear a zip-up or button-up shirt or jacket and comfortable pants with an elastic waist. Any clothing that does not have to be pulled over your head and that has a loose, comfortable fit is good. This will help you avoid damaging your dressings and will not restrict your body or put pressure on your incisions. Bring hair clips and other items you will need on your way home from the hospital. You will probably want to pull your hair back. Patients who have had facial procedures often want sunglasses and hats to hide their bandages and surgical wounds.
What Is Required Post-Surgery?
Your doctor will give you and the person driving you home a list of instructions to follow after your surgery. Following these instructions completely will help you recover safely and heal completely. Not following these instructions can lead to infections and may cause your incisions to scar. You may also cause damage to the areas that were operated on and negatively impact the results of your operation.
- You must have a trusted adult drive you home from the hospital and stay with you for the first day and night following your surgery. You will not be allowed to leave the hospital by yourself or if you try to take a bus, train or cab. Someone you know and trust must drive you home and stay with you to ensure your safety as your anesthesia wears off. You may stumble and fall or take too much pain medication if you are left alone.
- Drink plenty of fluids and eat soft, bland foods that your stomach can tolerate. Drinking enough water will help your body flush out the anesthetic drugs you received during surgery. You must eat the right foods to help your body recover and to prevent nausea from your pain medications.
- Do not drink alcohol for the first 24 hours after your operation or while taking pain medication. Alcohol causes circulation problems and can cause your unhealed incisions to bleed. Combining alcohol and pain medication can worsen side effects and can cause you to have an accident and sustain injury.
- Tell your doctor immediately about any rash, itching, swelling, fever, inflamed incisions or severe pain that is not affected by pain medication. You may be experiencing an allergic reaction to your pain medication or having other surgical complications that need to be addressed immediately. If your doctor is not available, call 911 and tell them your symptoms and that you are recovering from surgery.
- Get plenty of rest for the first two days after your procedure. Only get up and move when you have to. Do not perform any heavy lifting, pushing or pulling for 10 days or until these activities do not cause you any pain. Do not play sports or engage in rigorous exercise or other activities for four to six weeks or until your doctor tells you it is safe to do so. Overexerting yourself can cause swelling and may reopen surgical wounds.
- Keep your body in an elevated position. Use firm, supporting pillows and cushions to keep your back elevated to a 45 degree angle. You can also sit or sleep in a reclining chair if you have one.
- Leave your surgical dressings on and keep your incisions clean. Do not shower until your doctor tells you it is safe to do so. Tell your doctor if the dressings are too tight or if you experience uncontrollable bleeding, swelling or inflammation.
- Do not smoke for at least one week after your operation. Smoking affects circulation and can interfere with your body’s ability to heal.
- Use sunscreen on surgical scars to prevent discoloration.
- Avoid hot tubs for at least one month.