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VOL. 40 | NO. 9 | Friday, February 26, 2016

Do some homework before getting work

By Jeannie Naujeck

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There’s no substitute for research if you’re in the market to “have work done” on your face or body.

Information on surgical and non-surgical procedures – and average costs – is available at www.plasticsurgery.org, the website of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which represents more than 7,000 board-certified plastic surgeons.

When looking for a practitioner, it’s an excellent idea to ask friends and acquaintances for recommendations. People are increasingly willing to talk about what used to be a hush-hush topic, especially if they are happy with their results.

An experienced, talented physician who has a good “bedside manner” and is readily available in case of complications is well worth the money.

“Dr. Griffin places such a high priority on nurturing and follow-up care,” says Dara Carson of Dickson, who had Don Griffin, M.D., of Nashville Cosmetic Surgery perform Kybella injections to reduce her chin.

“He would say, ‘Send me a selfie!’ I felt so comfortable knowing he would be available to me any time.”

Physicians warn strongly against shopping on price alone. While products like Botox injections are widely available, the skill and experience of the person performing them can make all the difference between a “frozen” face and a youthful, expressive look.

Ask for “before” and “after” pictures of a procedure done by the person who will be performing it.

Bengelsdorf

“Don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re going to get a Sperry’s steak paying a McDonald’s price,” says Steven Bengelsdorf, M.D., of Franklin Skin & Laser.

“It’s your face. This is not the thing you want to cheap out on.”

A good practitioner will also help patients achieve their best look by guiding them away from procedures that will make them look unnatural or change their appearance too drastically.

“Sometimes I try to talk people out of getting things that I really don’t think they need,” Bengelsdorf says.

“I tell them, ‘Look, if all you want is to get Botox, go to a franchise med spa. They’ll give you all the Botox you can possibly pay for.

“But if you want to look better, this is what you need to do – and it’s not necessarily by getting more Botox.’ True professionals are willing to have those conversations with their patients.”

When interviewing practitioners for a cosmetic procedure, these are the critical questions to ask:

Who will be doing the work? Who is the supervising physician in the practice, and what is his or her specialty?

In Tennessee, anyone with a medical license is technically allowed to perform surgery, regardless of specialty. And more specialists in other fields, such as ophthalmology and ear, nose and throat, are moving into the cosmetic field every day to cash in on the demand for elective cosmetic procedures.

A physician doesn’t necessarily have to be a surgeon or plastic surgeon to do a good job with cosmetic surgery, says Bengelsdorf, a board-certified surgeon for 25 years who has done cosmetic procedures for 12 years.

“There are people who are good at doing liposuction who are not plastic surgeons. I know a family practitioner who is one of the best I’ve seen,” he says. “But you need to understand wound care.”

In many practices, nurses, physician assistants and aestheticians will do non-invasive procedures. Bengelsdorf says he delegates very little in his practice, even doing Botox injections himself.

“I am the only one who does it in my office,” he explains. “It’s my reputation. I take what I do very, very seriously. I’m an OCD surgeon. But that’s who you want working on your face.”

Is he or she board-certified in a specialty? What is his or her reputation?

Board certification in a specialty is the gold standard for physicians and indicates he or she has advanced training and participates in continuing education to stay up-to-date on the rapid advances in medical devices and technologies like laser surgery.

Kelly

“I would never let anyone touch my face with any type of instrument that is not board-certified,” says Clint Kelly, medical malpractice attorney with The Kelly Firm in Hendersonville.

“They have a level of training and expertise that’s unmatched by any other doctor that claims to be a cosmetic surgeon.

“The second thing is, ask people who’ve been there and find out how good a job he did. Good surgeons usually get good word of mouth from multiple sources,” he adds.

Where is the supervising physician located? How accessible is he or she? If I have a complication, will I be able to see him or her?

Some medical spas are meeting the state requirement to have a supervising physician on staff by signing on a doctor who is not actually involved in the practice, and anyone who has an active medical license and medical practice somewhere in Tennessee meets the requirement.

A good cosmetic surgery practice will be vigilant with patient aftercare and accessible 24 hours a day should a complication arise.

“You want somebody who can deal with the complications,” Kelly explains. “You want someone who can dive in quickly, see what’s going on and fix it. Because the complications, oftentimes, they kill.’’

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