Surgery Myths

Myth: Extreme makeovers are safe and commonly done

Truth: As a rule, it is not commonly performed, nor should it be. Most patients don’t want an extreme result, they want a natural result. It is not uncommon for patients to have age appropriate combinations of surgeries at the same time. However, the primary concern should be which combinations are safe. Extensive, lengthy combination procedures have a greater potential risk of complications.

Myth: All plastic surgical operating facilities are inspected and accredited

Truth: The reality is that the majority of office based surgical facilities across the country are never inspected and never accredited. Few states have any regulations with regard to accreditation, licensing, or inspection where plastic surgery is performed. Any patient undergoing plastic surgery should demand that the facility is accredited by one of the national accrediting organizations: The American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Inc. (AAAASF), Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAHC), The Joint Commission (JTC). If a facility cannot reach the minimal standards of safety, sterility, surgical personnel, monitoring, safety equipment, and emergency protocols that are part of the accreditation process, why would anyone have a procedure performed there and why would a surgeon operate there?

Myth: All plastic surgery board certifications are the same

Truth: There are many self-proclaimed or bogus boards. The only board that is recognized by the American Medical Board of Specialties (AMBS) that certifies that a surgeon is fully trained in plastic surgery of the face, breast and body is the American Board of Plastic Surgery. To qualify for that certification, a surgeon must undergo supervised training in an accredited educational program for 6-9 years after medical school, passage of an extensive written examination and satisfactory completion of an oral exam that covers anatomy, surgical technique, patient selection, avoidance and management of complications and ethics. Contrast that with a self-proclaimed board which may issue certificates to anyone who desires to call themselves a cosmetic surgeon and may have taken only a weekend course or no formal plastic surgery training at all.

Myth: If a doctor calls himself a cosmetic surgeon or plastic surgeon, he must be one

Truth: Any physician with an M.D. can call themselves a specialist with no legal requirement that they have any recognized training in the specialty of plastic surgery specifically, aesthetic surgery.
Just because they call themselves board certified does not mean that the board is a legitimate board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) (http://www.abms.org/) or that the board is in plastic surgery.

You need to check the physician’s credentials to verify that they have been board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (www.abps.org/). In addition, they should be a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) (www.plasticsurgery.org/) and if they are doing cosmetic or aesthetic surgery on a member of my family or staff, I would want them to have the additional experience with a focus on aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery and be a member of The Aesthetic Society (http://www.surgery.org/).

There is no national “board” that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties that has the word cosmetic in it.

Myth: All plastic surgical procedures require general anesthesia

Truth: Most of the procedures can be performed with a combination of intravenous sedation and local anesthesia. The type of anesthesia depends on the general medical condition of a patient, what is mutually decided by the patient and the surgeon, and the procedure that is being performed.

No matter whether it is general anesthesia or intravenous sedation, anesthesia should be administered by an appropriately trained anesthesia provider in an accredited or licensed facility, in order to maximize safety. In our office-based surgical facility, the Singer Surgical Centre, anesthesia is always administered by a board certified physician anesthesiologist.

Myth: It is best to have one plastic surgery procedure at a time

Truth: Safety should always be the primary concern. It is often more efficient to have more than one plastic surgery procedure performed at the same time; have one anesthesia, and one recovery. That should always be balanced by which procedures are a reasonable combination and the length of time in surgery and under anesthesia to help diminish potential problems. Extensive combination procedures may extend the length of recovery.

Myth: Plastic surgery is all about vanity

Truth: Aesthetic (Cosmetic) surgical procedures like face lifts, tummy tucks, breast augmentations are the plastic surgical operations that are most discussed in the media, however, the specialty of plastic surgery also involves the correction of defects after cancer, hand injuries, congenital defects such as cleft lips and palates, as well as burns. Good results take into account function as well as appearance. The most common reason a patient undergoes a procedures for cosmetic reasons is to correct areas which are not amenable to diet, weight loss and exercise and cannot be improved by non-surgical procedures or topical products. Anything taken to an extreme is problematic, including surgery. The best definition of vanity I have heard is “A desire to excel”. The majority of patients who undergo plastic surgery have proper motivation for the procedures, are realistic, pleased with the results, and feel better about themselves after having plastic surgery. Patients who feel better about themselves are able to function better in their environment.

Myth: Plastic surgery can eliminate or leave no scars

Truth: Everyone heals differently due to genetics and personal factors.
Scars can be refined and improved with a variety of treatments, but there is no way to totally erase a scar. There are newer procedures that can minimize scars by shortening incisions and sometimes hiding them, but there is no way to have an incision or repair of laceration with no scar.

Myth: Plastic surgery procedures are standardized, so find the least expensive surgeon

Truth: Having plastic surgery is not like purchasing a t-shirt or sandals. There are many factors that are involved in the variability of plastic surgery fees, including: geographic location, the extent of the procedure, the length of the procedure, the training, and especially the experience and expertise of the plastic surgeon, Other factors include the costs of anesthesia and the anesthesia provider, surgical facility and supply fees, and the extent of pre-operative lab evaluations. Find the most qualified board certified plastic surgeon, not the cheapest. Generally in life, you get what you pay for. Remember that there is no eraser at the end of the surgeon’ scalpel.

Myth: Plastic surgery is only for women

Truth: The majority of patients who have plastic surgery are females, but there are an increasing number of men from all walks of life who are having plastic surgery procedures. As the economy has become more challenging and the workplace more competitive, patients including males want to look fresh and vibrant. The information about the procedures is more prevalent in the media and plastic surgery is more accepted by the general public; both female and males. The development of less invasive procedures such as fillers, Botox/ Dysport, laser, and skin care has provided an option of rejuvenation and a more youthful appearance which many males find appealing.

Myth: Plastic surgery patients are all rich

Truth: Plastic surgery is performed on a higher socio-economic group. Most of the plastic surgery patients earn average incomes, are hardworking, want to improve their self-image, and are not rich. They are also realistic about their outcomes and pleased with their results.

Dr. Robert Singer

Robert Singer, M.D.

Dr. Robert Singer is a board-certified plastic surgeon and former President and Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Aesthetic Society who gives his patients life-changing results. His technical mastery and artistic sensibilities have helped hundreds of patients achieve natural-looking rejuvenation through facelifts and other complex procedures. Dr. Singer is a member of several prestigious organizations, including:

  • Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation
  • International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
  • American College of Surgeons 

To discover what Dr. Singer can do for you, request your consultation online or call his plastic surgery practice at (858) 455-0290.

Contact Dr. Robert Singer

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