The number of surgical and non-surgical procedures inched toward the 10 million mark in 2009, according to new research from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, which also reports that almost half of Americans approve of cosmetic plastic surgery – regardless of income. It is clear from my practice that even in a tight economy more people at every income level will consider some type of cosmetic procedure. That’s partly because new innovations have made surgical and non-surgical options less invasive, and safer.

But there remain dangers with any cosmetic procedure – whether it’s an injectable, a filler, a laser treatment or surgery. Although most complications are infrequent or rare, and generally correctible, there are always risks I make patients aware of before undergoing any treatment.

Here are five tips for safer beauty outcomes.

  • Check the surgeon’s certifications. Technically any doctor can purchase injectables, fillers and laser machines and perform any cosmetic treatment or surgery. Look for plastic surgeons who are members of theAmerican Society of Plastic Surgery, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and/or the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
  • Assess the surgeon’s experience. You want someone who has a track record in the procedure you are considering. Question any surgeon who claims to have treated an excessive number of patients in a short time. Learn everything you can about the surgeon, and get references.
  • Research the procedure and products that will be used. If it is an injectable, filler or laser, be sure it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the procedure you are requesting. Get the name of the product and learn as much as you can about it.
  • Engage your surgeon about risks before the procedure. Don’t just sign a patient consent form. It is your right to have a discussion with your surgeon to talk about what “may” go wrong, and to be aware of any complications that may arise.
  • Stay the course. Always follow your surgeon’s pre and post-procedure instructions. There may be medicines to avoid, activities to refrain from – get a complete list, read it carefully and don’t be shy about asking any questions.

Not every patient is a good candidate for cosmetic surgical or non-surgical procedures. If your physician tells you that you are not in optimal health for the procedure, take his or her advice.

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From the moment I walked through the door my fears evaporated. Dr. Zubowski is a gifted surgeon and his staff is tops.

– Kerry G.