Choosing a Plastic Surgeon

Before you undergo a surgical procedure, it’s important to choose the right surgeon. When evaluating a plastic surgeon in Birmingham, be sure to understand and consider his or her certifications, credentials, and personality. You should not proceed with a plastic surgery procedure unless you have complete confidence in your surgeon, and you feel comfortable and safe.

If you’re considering cosmetic plastic surgery in Birmingham, request a Comprehensive Consultation with Dr. Michael Beckenstein or call our office at  (205) 933-9308. His exceptional qualifications and genuine compassion make him an excellent choice.

Check the Surgeon’s Certifications

It is up to you as the patient to understand the certifications of your prospective surgeon. There is often confusion between the terms “plastic surgeon” and “cosmetic surgeon,” and patients need to know the differences that exist. Any doctor can perform plastic surgical procedures and call him/herself a “plastic” or “cosmetic surgeon.” This term has unfortunately become a generic term.

The saying caveat emptor, or buyer beware, is apropos to plastic surgery. Knowing a surgeon is “board certified” alone is not a sufficient qualification as there are self-proclaimed boards of plastic or cosmetic surgery which are not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the main body of the 24 recognized medical specialties.

Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) – the only plastic surgery board recognized by the ABMS – guarantees that the doctor has successfully completed an accredited residency program in plastic surgery and fulfilled the examination process necessary to obtain board certification. It’s important for potential patients to thoroughly understand these certifications when seeking a plastic surgeon anywhere in the United States. When evaluating a cosmetic surgeon, make sure to find out if he or she is ABPS certified, as is the case with Dr. Beckenstein. This guarantees he or she is certified to perform aesthetic (cosmetic) and reconstructive surgery of the face, head, and neck, body, and extremities.

Understanding Certification for Facial Plastic Surgeons

board-certified plastic surgeon is certified by the ABPS to perform facial plastic surgery and plastic surgery of the entire body. If your surgeon is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon, but not a board-certified plastic surgeon, he or she is not certified to perform plastic or aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery on the body; although it is perfectly legal for a facial plastic surgeon to offer body procedures anyway. Their certification is confined to the head and neck.

About Cosmetic Surgeons

There are some “official-sounding” boards that can cause additional confusion. For example, the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery includes members who perform the same procedures as a board-certified plastic surgeon. This board is not recognized by the ABMS. A board-certified plastic surgeon must complet a certified plastic surgery residency, then pass a board examination. Additional training can be obtained to enhance a surgeon’s knowledge and skills. These fellowships build on the plastic surgeon’s residency training. Cosmetic surgeons have not completed a plastic surgery residency. They are often dermatologists, gynecologists, ENTs, vascular, and general surgeons. They often complete fellowships in cosmetic surgery (not the ones plastic surgeons complete), but they DID NOT COMPLETE A PLASTIC SURGERY RESIDENCY. They are not enhancing this residency training, therefore they do not have the skills and knowledge possessed by a plastic surgeon certified by the ABPS. This is the critical difference between these 2 groups!

Care Driven By Compassion

Compassion is the cornerstone of Dr. Beckenstein’s work as a plastic surgeon. His heart for his patients inspired him to found the Alabama Breast Cancer Cooperative, a uniquely comprehensive resource for breast cancer care and emotional support. In addition, Dr. Beckenstein’s expertise in plastic surgery allows him to help survivors of tragedy reclaim their bodies and live happier, more confident lives.

Alabama Breast Cancer Cooperative Notable Patients

Review the Surgeon’s Resume

Once you have verified a surgeon’s certifications, you are ready to review his or her resume. This will provide information about where the surgeon has trained and if fellowship training was completed. Additional training after a residency is known as a fellowship, where expertise in a particular aspect of surgery is obtained. The resume should list the surgeon’s membership in various local and national societies. Membership attests that the surgeon has met the ethical and practice standards set by the society. Make sure the surgeon you choose is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS). This membership assures that the surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and has met the stringent ethical and practice requirements of the society.

Dr. Michael S. Beckenstein

Dr. Michael S. Beckenstein

Dr. Beckenstein is a fellowship-trained, board-certified plastic surgeon whose extensive experience in breast enhancement, body contouring procedures, and reconstructive plastic surgery sets him apart.

Meet Dr. Beckenstein

Consider Your Feelings

Once you’ve determined that your surgeon is properly certified and qualified to perform the procedure you are considering, it’s important to consider how you feel when you are at the practice. Are you relaxed and at ease when you’re in the office? Are you comfortable speaking openly with the doctor and the staff? It’s important to make sure all your questions are answered and concerns addressed before undergoing a procedure. You are more likely to have a positive experience and satisfying results when your doctor listens to and understands the improvements you want and helps you establish realistic expectations.

Questions to Ask Your Surgeon

Now that you understand the important factors to consider, you are ready to begin your search. Dr. Beckenstein has created the following summary of important questions to ask prospective plastic surgeons:

  • Are you board certified?
  • By what board? (Make sure it is an ABMS specialty.)
  • How long have you been in practice?
  • Where did you train?
  • Do you have additional fellowship training, and in what specialty?
  • How many of these procedures have you done?
  • When was the last time you performed one of these procedures?
  • How long does it take you to do the surgery?
  • What is the average time for that procedure (by plastic surgeons in your area)?
  • Where do you perform surgery?
  • Is there an overnight stay?
  • Who will be giving the anesthesia?
  • Who will monitor me during recovery?
  • Can I see before-and-after pictures?
  • Can I speak with some of your patients who have had this procedure?
  • What are common complications with this procedure?
  • Will you personally be taking care of me after my surgery?
  • Have you ever had your license or hospital privileges suspended?
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