How do I know I'm seeing a qualified plastic surgeon?

Finding a well-trained, experienced plastic surgeon is one of the most important steps in ensuring that you achieve the results you want. Here's how to find the best physician for you:

Check for board certification. Does the American Board of Plastic Surgery certify him or her? This is the only board that certifies plastic surgeons.

Check professional memberships. Is she or he a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons? This professional society promotes education and standards among board certified plastic surgeons.

Check out the hospital. Is he or she on the staff of an accredited hospital? Hospitals can be accredited by any of several private and public organizations; the most common accrediting body is the Joint Commission.

Talk to your family physician for information about another physician's qualifications.

Ask your plastic surgeon about his or her education, training for a particular procedure and experience with the procedures you want.

Question the source, if you get information from friends. While they may be able to recommend a qualified plastic surgeon, friends may also base their opinions on second- or third-hand information.

Read up. Magazines or television programs may be reliable resources, but be cautious. Don't base your decision solely on them; check out the source.

Is plastic surgery safe?

As with all surgical procedures, there is some risk of complications. You can reduce potential risks and complications by carefully following all pre- and post-surgery instructions provided to you by your surgeon. This will ensure that you and your plastic surgeon are prepared and that your body is appropriately cared for before, during and after surgery.

What about confidentiality?

Although many people are more open about their own cosmetic surgery now than they once were, not everyone is. We all want the privilege of telling family and friends about our surgery ourselves. Be assured that in most plastic surgery offices, your privacy is highly guarded. At Penn, all new staff members must attend training sessions in how to maintain patients' privacy. Following the training, each new employee signs an agreement to follow privacy and confidentiality principles. Our physicians and support staff use discretion with patient information.

Financial Information

Are fees for all cosmetic surgery the same?

No. Cosmetic surgery fees vary greatly, and what you'll pay depends upon:

The surgeon's fee: Physician's charges vary according to the surgeon's experience and other variables. Check out the American Society of Plastic Surgeons' website to see the fee range in your area for the procedure you're considering.

The hospital or facility fee: Whether you have surgery in the hospital operating room or day surgery unit, there will be a fee. If your procedure requires you to remain overnight in the hospital, there may be an additional fee.

The anesthesia fee: You will pay the anesthesia department separately for anesthesia services.

You will be provided a proposed surgery estimate including surgeon's, facility and anesthesia fees following your consultation. If you're unsure about what the estimate includes, ask. You will be required to make a deposit to hold your surgery date and you must pay all fees two to four weeks before your scheduled surgery date.

Is there a consultation fee?

Yes, there is a fee for your private and personalized consultation with one of our surgeons, however, if you do end up having your procedure done with us, the consultation fee will be waived.

Does insurance cover cosmetic surgery?

Insurance companies do not cover the costs of cosmetic procedures. Insurance providers will typically only cover those expenses related to diseases, illness and injury including reconstructive procedures considered medically necessary because the condition interferes with the individual's health or ability to function normally.

Insurance carriers have different definitions for "cosmetic" and "medically necessary." In some cases the insurer may determine that part of the surgery is medically necessary. The patient is then responsible for the part of the surgery the insurance company considers cosmetic.

If you have a question about insurance coverage, be sure to ask your plastic surgeon's office staff. They can help work with your insurer to determine what may be covered.

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