Although many doctors claim to practice plastic surgery, not all have the same degree of surgical training. Motivated by profit, and taking a few seminars put on by manufactures of new products and procedures; many family practitioners, dentists, oral surgeons and even OB/GYNs have added some plastic surgery procedures to their practice, including certain types of skin care and injectables.
Frankly, a few seminars and classes does not make anybody an expert. It takes much more time and expertise, particularly with regard to cosmetic surgery. In lesser hands, the results can be mediocre, and sometimes patients can get hurt. Because someone says they trained in a procedure—they can seem trustworthy. Yet training, in this sense, doesn’t mean very much when it comes to practice. When dealing with any doctor who practices plastic surgery, it is important to ask how many similar cases they have done, and over what period of time–because experience is key.
Because cosmetic surgery is often elective, the patient is not usually in immediate need of the procedure. This affords patients plenty of time to carefully choose the right plastic surgeon. It is important to be aware that no one surgeon is sufficiently trained and experienced in every possible cosmetic procedure. You want the highest quality of patient care and experience for the specific procedure you are interested in. Depending on what feature you are hoping to change, the plastic surgeon may suggest an additional procedure to achieve the desired look. These suggestions should not, however, be taken as pressuring comments. If the doctor is pushing you in a direction that is uncomfortable to you, you should seek another opinion.
Our founding surgeon explains how hard he worked to become the surgeon he is today: “It takes at least five years of training to become a plastic surgeon. I spent an extra two-and-a-half years in training, not because I am slow, but because I know it’s that important. As a Junior Resident I was awarded the Outstanding Surgical Resident honor, even beating out chief residents. The following year, as a Senior Resident, I won the award again. When I went back as a judge the following year, residents joked that the feared James Green would win it yet again. This story isn’t about vanity, it’s about commitment. I think there is a certain degree of talent involved in plastic surgery. But it’s not all talent. As my art professor in Paris told me when I asked him, How much talent does it take to make this? His answer: twenty percent talent and eighty percent hard work.
I and most plastic surgeons are board certified and members of the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS). This in my opinion is a fundamental requirement. Additionally, I am a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. I have been practicing plastic and reconstructive surgery for over 25 years. Since 1990 I have performed over 3,500 aesthetic surgeries. I’ve performed over 3,000 reconstructive cases. With an excellent reputation in the community, I have served on multiple boards and committees including President of Medical Staff and Chairman of the Department of Surgery. I have worked with nearly all the physicians in the area and receive their referrals. You don’t have to travel to a metropolitan area to find expert skills and counsel. You don’t even have to drive to Albuquerque. I’m right here in Santa Fe. I’m well-qualified to deal with these issues and we can talk about many different approaches to discover what’s really right for you. If I don’t think that I’m the right surgeon for a particular procedure, or I don’t think a procedure would be good for your health and well being, I’ll be the first one to let you know. Cosmetic surgery is medicine—it’s about healing.”
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