Amiya Prasad, MD, chief Oculofacial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon of New York’s Prasad Cosmetic Surgery & Medi-Spa addresses the criteria for prospective patients choosing a cosmetic surgeon. For those opting for cosmetic surgery of the face, eyes, or body, Dr. Prasad stresses the importance of doing research before choosing a doctor for surgical procedures is necessary to achieve optimal results. An innovator and author, Dr. Prasad shares his twenty years of knowledge in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery and lends this to determining the factors for choosing a specialized cosmetic surgeon.
Expertise in Plastic Surgery is a controversial issue. Many surgeons simply claim to be the “best” or advise that if you “Ask for a board certified surgeon” you have completed your research. However, if you want to determine a physician’s level of expertise, follow this straightforward assessment. The first level of expertise is based on the formal training pursued by a surgeon. For example, a neurosurgeon has expertise in brain surgery based on formal training. A neurosurgeon can be easily regarded as having a higher level of expertise in brain surgery when compared to a General Surgeon who had less exposure to neurosurgery during training and did not pursue this type of surgery after he or she finished training.
Eye plastic surgery training is specialized compared to general plastic surgery. This extra focused training as a specialist has served as the foundation for my expertise in Cosmetic Eyelid Surgery. As an Eye Plastic Surgeon, I have spent much more time than a general plastic surgeon on advanced eye plastic surgery and have spent many years instructing other eye surgeons on the topic. A second level of expertise is based upon types of experience. This can be quantified by the type of training pursued after residency, the number of years spent during and after formal training on specific types of procedures and whether or not the person has engaged in teaching others his craft.
In addition, an experienced cosmetic surgeon has numerous before and after photos and can produce a list of patients who have undergone the same procedure you are inquiring about who would be happy to speak to you about their procedure.
Finally, the last level of expertise to inquire about is the professional development that the surgeon has pursued in his career. Has he written books on his topic? Does he attend professional meetings and make presentations there? The field of cosmetic surgery, as in all disciplines, requires the pursuit of continued professional education, constant refining of our skills and knowledge and an unlimited curiosity to learn about the newest and most modern technologies available.
Formal training is an excellent foundation for expertise. Experience, however, can bring expertise to a higher level. For example, a highly experienced pilot landed an airplane in an emergency situation onto the Hudson River. Would a recently trained pilot have been able to do the same?
Experience as a Cosmetic Eyelid Surgery specialist helps the clients who are considering eyelid surgery feel more secure about having a surgeon who has the “miles” to be more than familiar with their procedure. Author Malcolm Gladwell who wrote “The Tipping Point” and “Outliers” states that to master any skill requires “10,000 hours” of practice in order to be successful. The same rule applies whether it is becoming a virtuoso performer, an Iron Chef, a master sculptor or a skilled surgeon. Performing eyelid surgery daily for 17 years has enabled me to reach and surpass the “10,000 hour rule”. Another mark of expertise is how well esteemed an artist is among his peers. It is important to ask whether a surgeon is called upon by others in his field to perform “revision surgery” or to fix undesired results. A surgeon who has been practicing for many years and is well respected by his peers will be able to describe to a patient the types of revision surgery he has performed over his career.
Any true artist will say that artistry is intrinsic, not learned. The medical field uses a training structure which tends to attract more “square” personalities, that is people who are intelligent, detail-oriented and organized, but not typically creative and artistic. This essentially means that many plastic surgeons are not artists but rather surgeons who follow a visual formula for each problem. In some ways this explains the often seen “plastic” appearance found in many people who have undergone cosmetic surgery. As an artist, I recognized during my training that there was a certain disconnect between patients’ desires to look fresh and youthful and the results of the plastic surgeons’ procedures. I have learned to appreciate the “true character” of a person’s face and understand the balance of features so that I can create a more natural appearance instead of a “manufactured face”. I have found that the judgment of beauty and balance is intrinsic and an awareness of the planes of the face and the dimensions of balance is difficult to communicate but easy to perceive.
Commitment in plastic surgery means that you will do your utmost to ensure that your patient achieves desired results. In order to accomplish that, you have to practice your craft ethically. By that I mean that you have to listen to your patients and understand their aesthetic goals and their deep seated fears. You have to discuss honestly and openly how you will address all related issues. If a patient has unrealistic expectations, you need to tell them. If they are asking for a procedure that is outside of your expertise, you need to refer them to the right specialist. You should always encourage a second opinion. And most importantly, never push a patient into a procedure if they don’t want it or don’t need it. It is imperative to be available for questions or concerns before and after surgery. The best cosmetic surgery practice provides all levels of care to its patients to make sure that they always look their best. We have an on-site spa which provides non-invasive skin care and we have our own line of skin care products to protect your skin and keep it healthy.
It’s hard to teach ethics to someone. Ethics is just something you have. Unfortunately, there is no measure for ethics when you screen physicians. Medical training for ethics is quite variable and ultimately depends on the trainee and his own experience. As surgeons, we all have to determine which ideals will serve our mission. Caring for my patients the way I would care for my own family has been the core value which guides how I practice. It’s based on this core value that I developed techniques which make my patients comfortable, look natural and recover quickly. When choosing a surgeon, you should get a “caring, compassionate, and professional” feeling from the surgeon as well as the staff and the office environment. In order to achieve this goal, I work with the most qualified and attentive staff and I have invested in my state-of- the-art facilities to provide a cutting edge care in a comfortable environment.
I am committed to providing my patients with the best care possible.