Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is plastic surgery?

A: Plastic surgery is a medical field that deals with surgery on the skin, face, hands, breasts and other body parts. This surgical specialty reshapes or remolds facial or body tissue to repair, reconstruct, or replace the form and function of a certain body part. Whether elective or medically necessary, plastic surgery falls into two major categories � cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery. Cosmetic surgery is performed to enhance the appearance of a certain functional body part. Reconstructive surgery involves the restoration of form and function of body parts that have been injured, diseased or defected.

The goals of plastic surgery are:

  • To correct perceived disfigurement of a body part
  • To restore impaired function of a body part
  • To improve the physical appearance of a body part

The benefits of plastic surgery are:

  • The correction of a congenital or developmental deformity of a body part
  • The correction a perceived physical imperfection of a body part
  • To provide psychological benefits and increase self-confidence

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Q: What is the difference between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery?

A: Cosmetic surgery, also known as aesthetic surgery, deals with surgical procedures that enhance the appearance of a body part. Cosmetic surgery procedures alter a part of a person's body that the person is not satisfied with. These procedures include enlargement of the breasts (augmentation mammoplasty), reduction of the breasts (reduction mammoplasty), changing the size or shape of the nose (rhinoplasty), and removing fat pockets from the body (liposuction). Cosmetic surgery procedures do not necessarily involve cutting and stitching. The use of lasers and modern techniques give the ability to cosmetic surgeons to perform popular procedures in a less invasive manner.

Reconstructive surgery deals with procedures that correct the face or body and significantly repair defects or problems. Patients who undergo reconstructive surgery either have congenital deformities, known as birth defects, or have developmental deformities, which result from an accident or disease. Congenital deformities include reconstructive surgery for ear deformities, cleft lips and palates, hand deformities such as syndactyly (also known as webbed fingers), extra or absent fingers and abnormal breast development. Patients with developmental deformities might undergo reconstructive surgery for dog bites or burns, to rebuild breasts after breast cancer removal surgery, or to fix abnormal growths on the body.

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Q: How can I find a plastic surgeon I can trust?

A: If you are considering plastic surgery, it is important to find a plastic surgeon you can trust. The two most important factors are the doctor's qualifications and experience.

It is important to find a plastic surgeon that is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Physicians can take a weekend course in plastic surgery and be able to perform plastic surgery on patients. When a doctor is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, it means he/she has met the educational and plastic surgery training requirements necessary to perform successful plastic surgery procedures. The certification ensures that the surgeon has gone through rigorous, extensive training and has a solid background and know-how of plastic surgery.

The best way to find a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon is to conduct your own research. Speak to your cosmetologist or family doctor and ask them for recommendations. You can also check the Yellow Pages for a complete list of doctors. However, this does not necessarily mean that the plastic surgeon is qualified with certification.

Consumer services such as can be an effective tool in finding a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in your area. They pre-screen doctors and offer the best in the field. Professional organizations such as The American Board of Medical Specialties or the American Society of Plastic Surgeons are also good references for finding expert Board Certified doctors.

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Q: What is

A: is a free consumer service dedicated to patients interested in cosmetic surgery. The service helps patients find qualified Board Certified Plastic Surgeons in their area, as well as information on a plastic surgeon's board records, credentials, experiences and specialty areas. The Board Certified Plastic Surgeons that have been pre-screened by make up a distinguished class of medical professionals.

Any physician can call themselves a plastic surgeon. That's why it is important for a patient to find a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The certification assures that a physician is highly qualified to perform plastic surgery procedures such as liposuction, face lift, breast augmentation, breast reduction, tummy tuck, etc. can help you find a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in your area. assures that patients are making an informed decision and helps put their minds at ease. A patient can ask for educational background, professional training information, credentials, board records and specialty areas of any surgeon, even if that surgeon is not part of the network. A patient can also ask a patient coordinator at if any malpractice judgment cases are listed against a plastic surgeon and if they are practicing with a clean license.

Call the patient coordinators toll free at 1-800-my-surgeon (1-800-697-8743) or visit the website at to learn more about plastic surgery and access patient resources.

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Q: What if I can't afford plastic surgery?

Plastic surgery used to be a luxury only the rich and famous could afford. Now, modern technology and financing options have made it easier for everyone to afford plastic surgery. Most cosmetic surgery procedures are not covered by health insurance and for individuals who can't afford the more expensive procedures such as facelift which averages between $10,000 and $15,000 and full tummy tuck which averages between $7,500 and $10,000, plastic surgery financing is the only means.

Financing options for plastic surgery procedures, such as the ones offered by, could help patients who are facing difficult financial situation get the plastic surgery they desire. offers financing to patients regardless of the type of procedure, with monthly payments based on the cost of the procedure and the time it takes to pay the loan. Financing is also available to those with less than perfect credit.

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Q: Why is it important to look at before and after photographs?

A: Not every professional is an expert at what they do. Viewing pictures of a professional's work is a good way of determining the quality of their work. The same is true with plastic surgery. When a plastic surgeon presents his work to other doctors at a meeting or seminar, he/she typically uses before and after pictures of patients to prove to colleagues that the surgical techniques are effective. As a patient, you are entitled to have the same type of proof.

A reliable plastic surgeon should unquestionably show before and after photos of his/her patients to prospective patients. Just the way you wouldn't hire an artist to paint a portrait of you without seeing samples of the artist's work, you shouldn't allow a plastic surgeon to perform plastic surgery on your body without seeing the outcome of past procedures.

Although no surgeon can guarantee that the results shown in before and after photographs will be the same if performed on you, it will give you an idea of the precision of the plastic surgeon and just how successful his/her work was in the past.

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Q: What does it mean to be Board Certified?

A: When a plastic surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, it means that the surgeon holds a valid medical license in the state they practice in. Board certification also means that a physician has:

  • Graduated from an accredited medical school
  • Completed at least a three-year residency in general surgery
  • Completed at least a two-year residency in plastic surgery
  • Passed comprehensive written and oral board examinations

Board Certified Plastic Surgeons maintain a high level of professionalism and patient care. Not all surgeons that offer cosmetic procedures are Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Physicians can easily call themselves �plastic surgeons� by taking a weekend course and be able to perform plastic surgery procedures. By making sure a plastic surgeon is board certified, you can make certain that the surgeon has gone through years of extensive education and training and has gained the necessary skill level needed.

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Q: Am I a good candidate for plastic surgery?

A: Plastic surgery can greatly improve your appearance and self-esteem. However, before undergoing plastic surgery, you should have a clear understanding of how the outcome of the procedure you intend to have can affect you, both physically and psychologically. Setting realistic expectations for yourself is key to a successful outcome. Ask yourself why you want the procedure done and what you expect the procedure to accomplish for you.

First, you should thoroughly research the procedure you are planning on having. Look at before and after pictures of actual patients. Ask your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon about how the procedure will be performed, what to expect after your surgery, what the potential risks are and how your doctor is working to assure your safety.

Generally, a good candidate for plastic surgery is a patient who has a strong self-image. In other words, a good candidate would be a patient with a strong self-image who is experiencing a diminishing self-confidence because of a physical defect.

Keep in mind that plastic surgery does not solve difficult life problems such as divorce or unemployment. Unsuitable candidates for plastic surgery are patients who think that by changing their appearance, they will feel better and find a solution to their problems. Also, patients who are impossible to please or those who have a desire to have a celebrity's lifestyle or looks are not good candidates for plastic surgery.

During the first consultation, a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon could usually determine whether or not a patient is a good candidate. For example, a plastic surgeon might refuse to perform rhinoplasty on a teenager who they feel is not yet mature enough to handle the changes. A plastic surgeon might also refuse to perform plastic surgery on an adult patient who is depressed or has other mental problems until they receive appropriate treatment.

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Q: What are the risks of plastic surgery?

A: Patients considering plastic surgery should be aware of the possible risks. Plastic surgery risks and complication can range anywhere from scarring to fatalities. The effect of surgery can also be physically and psychologically traumatizing to patients. Severe complications are uncommon, but it is important to keep the risks in mind before undergoing a procedure.

Complications are not frequently reported when plastic surgery is performed by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. However, the outcome of surgery is never predictable, as it depends greatly on a patient's anatomy and ability to heal.

Risks of complications in healing increase if:

  • A patient is a smoker
  • A patient has a connective tissue disease such as lupus
  • A patient has areas of damaged skin that have resulted from radiation therapy
  • A patient has decreased circulation to the surgical area
  • A patient has HIV or a weak or impaired immune system
  • A patient has poor nutrition

Complications of plastic surgery include infection, excessive bleeding, nerve damage, significant bruising and difficulties of healing wounds, anesthesia-related problems and complications in moving the muscles. For example, breast augmentation risks might include sensory damage, discoloration of the skin, asymmetry, infection, and formation of scar tissue. Facial plastic surgery risks might include tissue damage, an unnatural look and premature aging.

The most common risk of plastic surgery is scarring. To correct this issue, Board Certified Plastic Surgeons try to hide incisions in unnoticeable places such as in the hairline in facial plastic surgery or under the crease of the breast in breast augmentation procedures.

It is strongly advised to speak to a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon about the possible risks and complications of a procedure. Having blood tests and physical examinations can also ensure your safety.

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Q: What is the American Board of Plastic Surgery?

The American Board of Plastic Surgery promotes safe, ethical and effective plastic surgery to the public. They maintain high standards for the education, examination, certification and recertification of plastic surgeons as specialists.

Plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery are also listed in the Official American Board of Medical Specialties Directory. The American Board of Plastic Surgery provides certification to those physicians who meet comprehensive examinations and established requirements, based on training, education and experience. The certification is not considered a degree and does not award any physician with any privileges or license to practice medicine.

Recognition by the Board with certification is held in the highest regard. Once a surgeon completes and meets the requirements, he/she is referred to as a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.

Q: What is the American Society for Plastic Surgeons?

As the largest plastic surgery specialty organization in the world, The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is an organization that supports its members in efforts to provide the highest quality patient care. The society is composed of Board Certified Plastic Surgeons who perform both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. The ASPS logo is a good thing to look for when trying to find a qualified plastic surgeon, because it indicates that the plastic surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

The mission of American Society of Plastic Surgeons is to ensure quality care to patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics and research in plastic surgery. The society advocates patient safety by requiring its members to operate in accredited surgical facilities.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons publish numerous informational brochures to members and patients and maintains a website,, providing public education about plastic surgery. The site offers news on the latest advanced in plastic surgery including details about how to plan for a surgery, anesthesia and recovery information of specific procedures.

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