Recent clinical studies have found that cardiac and emergency surgeons with more experience can dramatically reduce patients’ complication risk. Does the same hold true for surgeons performing cosmetic surgery procedures? It’s hard to say, and what counts as “experience” can be a little tricky to define.
I’ve been performing cosmetic plastic surgery for 7 years and have performed thousands of procedures. But to me, surgical “experience” goes beyond a surgeon’s statistics about how many years and how many procedures they have performed. Obviously a surgeon fresh out of school who has performed fewer procedures isn’t going to have the same surgical judgment as someone who has spent years refining their technique; but at the same time, it’s important to consider that a surgeon who has performed 1,000 procedures poorly doesn’t offer much advantage over a surgeon who has performed 100 very well.
To me, experience has only a bit to do with numbers, and a lot more to do with:
- Technique: Thorough training, “hands-on” familiarity with the body’s structures, and a deep understanding of the latest cosmetic surgery standards are essential for accuracy.
- Aesthetic sense: A surgeon needs years of performing procedures to build up a clear understanding of what looks right and what looks “not quite right.” Additionally, if a surgeon has an artistic nature in addition to training and experience this typically translates into better cosmetic results.
- Compassion and connection: One of the marks of a good surgeon is the ability to evaluate patients correctly – an excellent surgeon will be able to assess their motivations and needs, listen to their goals, and combine these with their physiology and anatomy to create the best cosmetic surgical outcomes.
In the end, I think what plastic surgery patients in Tampa, Florida need to be thinking about when they evaluate a plastic surgeon’s experience isn’t the surgeon’s age, but the breadth of the surgeon’s experience, the balance in his or her technique, and the relevance of his or her procedure focus.
You may not be able to tell looking at their CV whether they’ve trained with top-of-the-line research surgeons, but their research fellowships and work history should give you a basic idea about what their training focused on and how they have developed or refined their specialties.
In the end, it’s important to look for a plastic surgeon who balances the “cutting edge” and the “proven, traditional” approaches in ways that make sense, rather than make the mistake of trusting the numbers alone.