What in the world could St. Patrick’s Day have in common with Plastic Surgery? I am referring to the legend of St. Patrick driving out the snakes from Ireland. Plastic Surgery certainly has some snakes that deserve to be driven out.
First, it would be nice if doctors who perform cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were required to have actual training in Plastic Surgery. While it is perfectly legal for anyone with an MD degree and license to do whatever surgery or treatment they can convince a patient to do, many unsuspecting people assume they are Board Certified Plastic Surgeons. These providers at the least do not volunteer that they are not Plastic Surgeons, and some even outright lie.
The point is not that they necessarily do a bad job, it is that the public is not fully informed before consenting to a procedure. Just because I call my practice ABC Plastic Surgery does not mean I am a Plastic Surgeon by training. There are even doctors who got together and created a Cosmetic Surgery Organization to certify each other and try to claim equivalency with the American Board of Plastic Surgery, but the AACS (American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery) was recently denied that right in court. The members still claim Board Certified.
The solution, barring new legislation, is to be a smart consumer. Go to www.plasticsurgery.org and enter your doctor’s name. If He/she is not there, they are not certified by ABPS. You can also simpl ask the doctor directly if they are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The only answer that assures that is yes. If they mention another board, it is not the same.
Dialectics, for those of you who were unaware, are two seeming opposites that can both be true. Still confused? I am happy to expand on this topic. It was complicated for me as well.
The statements “I am doing my best” and “ I can do better” create a dialectic. On first glance, if you are doing your best, how can you be able to do better? I struggled with this. I then realized that doing my best at this moment means that with my state of mind, physical abilities, distractions and time constraints, the results are my maximum effort for these conditions. I can do better indicates that with further training, a better night’s sleep, more experience, I can still learn to improve.
What does this have to do with Plastic Surgery? I have had, over my more than 20 year private practice career, instances where I did the surgery perfectly, yet I could see ways to improve the result afterward. I did my best, but I also believe that a better result can be obtained. These are the key to being a great Plastic Surgeon, understanding you always do your best but that you can do better as well. Without this, you either doubt yourself or never improve.
If a patient comes to me after having surgery and points out an area that is not perfect, I remain humble and open minded. I explain that I did everything perfectly, but acknowledge that improvements might be possible. That is what a touch up or revision procedure is all about.
It is important in my profession, as well as in life, to understand other peoples’ perspectives, as well as to share with them your own. Both of you can be correct. That is how I choose to interact with my patients. Mutual respect and understanding can solve virtually any situation.