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How To Choose a Facial Plastic Surgeon


By Dr. Ira Papel

How To Choose a Facial Plastic Surgeon
Ira Papel, M.D. is President of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. His practice, Facial Plastic Surgicenter, is based out of Baltimore. He can be reached at 410.486.3400.


Cosmetic surgery is increasingly becoming a part of mainstream American society. Just as we head to the gym and plan our diets to feel good, more and more of us are considering cosmetic surgery to improve our looks as well as our self-esteem. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) found that 85% of adult Americans would undergo a facial plastic surgery procedure if given the chance.

Informed Decisions



However, if cosmetic surgery is an option you are considering, there are a number of things you should know. With the vast numbers of surgeons in practice today, it is more important than ever for you to make informed decisions when considering an elective procedure such as cosmetic surgery. One of the most confusing issues today for individuals seeking a cosmetic surgeon is that of board certification. In today’s highly competitive medical environment, the term “board-certified” can be found in almost any surgeon’s advertising. It is important for you to recognize and seek out a surgeon who is “board-certified” in the correct area of expertise. If you are considering a cosmetic procedure of the face, head or neck, that area of expertise is facial plastic surgery.

How To Choose a Facial Plastic Surgeon There are a number of “boards” that certify surgeons performing facial plastic surgery, which are either member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) or have been deemed equivalent to the boards of the ABMS. These boards include the American Board of Otolaryngology and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, for example. What you should know is that most of these board-certified facial plastic surgeons are members of the world’s largest association of facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons, the AAFPRS.

As president of the AAFPRS, I feel there is some information you should be aware of when seeking and selecting a surgeon for cosmetic surgical procedures of the face, head and neck. The following are tips to assist you in making informed decisions when choosing the best surgeon for your specific needs:

Ask around. When seeking out a surgeon, word of mouth referrals are a good place to begin your search. Consult with friends who have undergone a procedure, ask a trusted physician or inquire with your hairdresser or esthetician at your local salon as to which doctors in the area have good reputations for performing facial cosmetic procedures.

Do your homework. Check to make sure that the surgeon’s area of expertise and corresponding board certification is in facial plastic surgery. The AAFPRS offers a toll-free physician referral hotline called the Facial Plastic Surgery Information Service, which can be utilized by calling

1-800-322-FACE to confirm a facial plastic surgeon’s board certification. You should also check to make sure the doctor is in good standing with your local medical society and the hospital where he/she has privileges.

Be informed. The AAFPRS’ website, facemd.org can also be utilized to obtain complimentary background material on specific procedures. Studying these materials before you contact a surgeon will make you better informed and help you to develop a list of questions you would like to ask prospective surgeons.

Electing to undergo cosmetic surgery is a highly personal decision, and you should take the time to find the right surgeon for your needs. For individuals considering cosmetic surgery of the face, head or neck, that surgeon is a facial plastic surgeon.



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