Key Questions to Ask as You Consider Breast Augmentation Surgery

The taboo surrounding cosmetic surgery has evaporated like Heidi Montag’s waistline.  In our practice we are seeing women of all ages are signing up to add curves in lieu of vacationing this summer.  So what does one look for when shopping for a breast augmentation?  Here are some tips to consider:

Training: Has the Surgeon been specifically trained to perform breast augmentation surgery?

There are some procedures where specialists may overlap in their skills and training. For example, neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons may have the background and ability to do back surgery. For breast augmentation surgery, only plastic surgeons have received specialized training as an integral part of their surgical residency.  Certifications by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and membership in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and/or the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) are reliable signs that a surgeon is qualified to perform breast augmentation surgery.

Experience: Does the surgeon have a track record of performing breast procedures?

Experience usually makes for a better surgeon. You should look for someone with excellent surgical skills who regularly performs breast surgery. You can ask surgeons how many of these procedures they have done in their careers. A plastic surgeon who focuses on cosmetic surgery (versus reconstructive) usually performs between 50-175 breast augmentations per year. You should also ask to see before and after photos to get an idea of the quality of their surgical results.

Hospital Privileges: Is the surgeon permitted to perform this procedure at a hospital?

There are surgeons who can perform many procedures in their own offices, but who cannot perform those same procedures in a hospital because they cannot demonstrate a record of training in that field. Check to see if the surgeon has hospital privileges to perform breast augmentation.

Techniques: Is the surgeon experienced and are his or her skills versatile so you have options for incision sites?

There are many techniques that can be chosen by the surgeon and the patient when planning for breast surgery. There are three common incisions, two different positions for the implant and several types of implants, which may vary in shape, size and filler. Each alternative has its advantages and disadvantages. Your surgeon should be able to explain the options available to you and why he or she is recommending a particular approach. A surgeon should base their recommendation on your body type, skin tone, breast shape and the desired size and look you want to achieve.

Anesthesia: Who will be providing my anesthesia?

One very important question to ask is: Who will be providing my anesthesia? This person has the responsibility of maintaining your comfort, breathing and vital functions. He or she needs to be well trained in routine patient safety and should also be able to handle any unexpected (though rare) problem that may occur. We believe your greatest level of safety is to have a board certified MD anesthesiologist dedicated to your anesthesia care during surgery.

Operating & Recovery Room Team: Who will be with me in surgery and immediately after?

When you undergo surgery there should be a surgeon, an anesthesiologist, a scrub technician (who assists the surgeon) and a circulating nurse who is a Registered Nurse (RN). In addition, your recovery room should have an RN who is certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support dedicated to your care (as opposed to trying to monitor your care while circulating time). This is the gold standard. Do not allow anyone to compromise on staff personnel.

Facility Safety: Is the surgical facility accredited?

Your surgery should be performed in a hospital or an outpatient surgery center that has earned accreditation by an outside organization. The most highly respected are:

  • AAAASF: The American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Inc. “AAAASF”.
  • AAAHC: The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care “AAAHC”.
  • JCAHO: Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations “JCAHO” accredits qualifying hospitals.

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