Thinking about a nip and tuck? What you need to ask before you pick a doctor

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If you don't like the way your nose looks, it can be fixed.  Your droopy eyelids or breasts can be lifted, your belly can made smaller and you can look younger. But do you know what you should ask your doctor before you decide to have a nip and tuck?

The number one thing Suncoast plastic surgeons say you should look for is certification, and, not the kind where you buy the certificate. These doctors had to earn it by continuing their education in the specialty of plastic surgery.

"Well, anyone with an MD can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon or a plastic surgeon, but to be trained fully and have accreditation by the American Board of Plastic Surgery it's a eight-year training program," says Dr. James Marsh. of James Marsh, M.D., P.A.

Physicians earning this accreditation usually display it in plain sight on their walls, or you can ask to see it.

Dr. John Strausser of Aesthetic and Cosmetic Surgery of Sarasota says "Make sure the doctor you are looking at doing the work for you has the privileges to do that work at a local hospital.  Many of the physicians who claim that they're plastic surgeons have virtually no hospital privileges at all." He says that you can also check the facility to see if its certified.

Dr. Strausser also suggests asking the doctors experience. "How many of a particular procedure, the one that your interested in, has that plastic surgeon performed?"

Ask what part of the body does the surgeon like to work on, says Dr. Alyssa Shulman of Sovereign Plastic Surgery. "Many plastic surgeons prefer just from the neck up, like doing facelifts and eye lifts. I actually prefer from the neck down so I do mostly breasts and belly."

Dr. Shulman also said its important for women undergoing reconstructive surgery following mastectomy to ask their surgeon which plastic surgeon they work, as this involves more team work.

Recovery time vary depending on what you are having done. Minor procedures of smaller areas with local anesthesia could be just a day or two. Raja Nalluri, M.D. of Nalluri Plastic Surgery. "General anesthesia or more extensive cuts or more intricate work inside with muscle such as tummy tuck or abdominoplasty; those can take two week, three weeks to recover."

In some cases, said Nalluri, more time is needed before you can go back to your full routine like lifting weights and other workouts.

Dr. Shulman likens cosmetic surgery to art, "You may want to see their portfolio, when it comes to plastic surgery its really about how it looks."

Those under eighteen will be hard pressed to find a board certified plastic surgeon to perform a procedure unless there's a good reason but what about the not so young?

"There are no 'too olds'," says Dr. Marsh, "I've done a tummy tuck on a 90-year-old lady because she wanted to look good while she was swimming."

And there are many more are like her. Americans spent more than ten million dollars on cosmetic surgery last year. People thirty-five to fifty were the largest group to undergo procedures. The numbers of men getting make-overs is on the rise, and since 1997, there has been almost a 250% increase in the total number of cosmetic procedures performed.

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