Choosing the Right Surgeon

How to Choose a Cosmetic Facial Surgeon

Facial surgery has traditionally been performed by three main specialties. ENT, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and Plastic Surgery. It is these specialties that rotate trauma call for facial injuries at most teaching hospitals and large medical centers. These three specialties also perform reconstructive facial surgery for birth and developmental defects and cancer reconstruction. All three of these specialties have invented or developed procedures, techniques and instrumentation for facial surgery. Cosmetic facial surgery is merely an elective extension of facial surgery procedures. Although these three surgical specialties lead the field in cosmetic facial surgery, there are also other specialties that perform cosmetic facial procedures. Ophthalmologists, oculoplastic surgeons, dermatologists, and other medical practitioners may also perform cosmetic facial surgery.

Competition is abundant among the surgical specialties and each of the above specialties has reasons that they believe qualifies them to perform cosmetic facial surgery. In some cases, this competition becomes an outright turf battle. Some of these specialties (most frequently plastic surgery) advertise that only their specialty is qualified to perform cosmetic facial surgery. This is an unfortunate attempt to obtain patients by misleading the public. In reality, there are many types of doctors qualified to perform cosmetic facial surgery. What is most important is not the specialty of your surgeon, not the degree of your surgeon, but outcomes of your surgeon. To say that only a single specialty is qualified is like saying that a Ford is the only good car!

Fact: 80% of cosmetic surgery is performed by non plastic surgeons*

*Source: Sacramento Bee from USA Today, January 18, 2000

So, given the fact that there are many types of doctors that can perform your cosmetic facial surgery, how do you choose one? The following is a guide on what to look for when considering a practitioner for cosmetic facial surgery:

1. Is this doctor board certified in his or her specialty?

American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS) certifies Joseph Niamtu III has fulfilled the requirements of the board and is granted Certification of QualificationAlthough this is not a guarantee of competency is does mean that this surgeon has passed rigorous written and oral exams to achieve this level of certification. Dr. Niamtu has been board certified in oral and maxillofacial surgery since 1985 and limits his practice fully to cosmetic facial surgery of the head and neck.

2. How much cosmetic surgery does your doctor perform as a part of their practice?

Many doctors perform cosmetic surgery, but many of them also perform many other types of surgery and cosmetic procedures are a small part of their overall practice. Surgeons that perform only cosmetic surgery have more experience with this type of surgery. Dr. Niamtu devotes 100% of his practice to cosmetic facial surgery.

3. Who will be performing your surgery?

Dr. Joe Niamtu performs 100% of surgery on his patientsSome offices utilize doctors in training such as fellows, residents, and interns to train in their office. While teaching is an admirable thing, some patients do not want to be operated on by inexperienced surgeons.  Unfortunately, in many of these training situations, the patient is told that the training doctor “will assist”, but in reality they traditionally perform half of the case. It is important for the patient to know exactly who will be performing the surgery as ghost surgery is common. Dr. Niamtu performs 100% of the surgery on his patients and does not allow any other doctor to perform operations on his patients.

4. Is your surgeon personable and caring and will he or she listen to what you want and be there for you throughout the entire surgical experience?

Unfortunately, many patients never see their surgeon much until the day of the operation. Some offices have nurses and staff do most of the evaluation and pre-surgical work. It is important to have the doctor involved from the very first appointment. Failure to be able to see or speak to the surgeon easily is a warning sign that you may be treated more like a number than a specialized patient.

5. Can you pick up the phone and speak with your surgeon?

This is perhaps one of the most important qualities to look for. Dr. Niamtu gives his cell phone number to all cosmetic patients because we feel that it is important. Although we do cosmetic facial surgery all day every day, for many patients this is a once in a lifetime affair. Patients frequently have questions about their surgery, evaluations, healing, post op care, etc. Realizing the importance of this we feel that there is no more direct way to a doctor than his or her cell phone. In addition, you may have simple questions that may be answered during normal working hours and we encourage our patients to call us anytime for any question. Sometimes the surgeon may not be able to come to the phone if he is operating, but staff will handle the immediate issue and the surgeon will promptly return the call. If you cannot speak to your surgeon, you may have chosen the wrong one!

6. Can your surgeon show you surgical outcomes?

Dr. Niamtu's before and after photosA busy competent surgeon should have hundreds of before and after pictures to demonstrate surgical outcomes. In addition, these pictures should not only reflect the best cases, but average levels of results as well. Your surgeon should be able to provide multiple references of patients that have had similar procedures that are willing to discuss the surgery, recovery and their experience with that office. Dr. Niamtu has performed thousands of facial surgery cases since 1983.

7. Does your surgeon have an accredited office and surgery center recognized by an official and major accreditation organization?

Our office and surgery center is accredited and recognized by an official and major accreditation organizationThis is a very, very important aspect of choosing a surgeon. Some doctors call their office a “surgery center”, but merely perform operations in a regular doctor’s office room without specialized equipment. Even though an anesthetist may be present, there is frequently no hospital grade anesthesia and emergency equipment. Many offices also lack important life saving medications and back up power sources.

Our office and surgery center is one of the few in the city to achieve the prestigious AAAHC full accreditation. This rigorous process is the “gold standard” for outpatient surgical center accreditation. It insures that very high standards have been met for optimum patient care and safety. There are some specialties that are accredited by organizations that only accredit that specialty.

Certificate of accreditation by the AAAHC, 2009 (Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care)The AAAHC certifies multiple medical and surgical specialty surgical centers in all medical specialties including emergency patient care centers, and university health centers. AAAHC accreditation is not an easy process and we are proud to have this distinct level of full accreditation. We are pleased to say that our office has been given full accreditation for the past 9 years and has passed all inspections (including surprise inspections) with flying colors.

8. Does your surgeon own his own equipment such as lasers and endoscopic instruments?

Dr. Joe Niamtu with medical instruments and lasersOwning expensive equipment such as lasers usually indicates that that doctor uses it frequently and may have more experience than a surgeon that rents this type of equipment. Our practice owns many different types of lasers as well as endoscopic instrumentation and hospital grade liposuction machines.

9. Is your surgeon involved in academics or teaching?

Every doctor has the obligation to offer his or her patients the latest advances in their specialty. As a rule, the best surgeons are very active in learning, teaching and publishing in medical journals and textbooks. These doctors approach surgery as a passion and are continually bringing the latest proven technology to their patients.

Dr. Joe Niamtu with a copy of his 1,000 page text book containing 3,300 color imagesDr. Niamtu has published over hundreds of scientific articles, papers, textbooks and textbook chapters on cosmetic facial surgery since 1997. In 2010 Dr. Niamtu published a 1,000 page text book with 3,300 color images and also authored a DVD series for cosmetic surgeons. In addition, he has lectured on six continents and is considered a key opinion leader in cosmetic surgery circles.

PA030519Dr. Niamtu frequently presents lectures to all types of cosmetic surgeons including plastic surgeons, facial plastic surgeons, ophthalmologists, ENT’s and dermatologists. He has also completed hundreds of hours of continuing medical education on cosmetic facial surgery since 1997. His work has been featured in Multiple Newspapers, Women’s World magazine, The London Times Sunday Magazine and he has also been featured on all three TV networks for his cosmetic surgery work. Learn more about Dr. Niamtu’s qualifications and academic contributions.

10. Do you have an over all good feeling about the doctor, his or her staff and their facility?

This is also very important. The certification and cleanliness of the facility as well as the presentation and compassion of the staff will influence your level of patient care. Our office strives to treat each and every patient as a VIP. Your health and welfare are our primary concerns. The staff can be a very important aspect of your surgical experience and their caring, input and concerns can truly enhance your surgery and recovery. In short, you should just have a good feeling about the people that you entrust with your face.

We invite you to come into our office for a comprehensive consultation. During your visit you are welcome to tour our facility, meet our highly qualified staff, and find out first-hand why we may be the right choice for you.

11. Beware

Beware of other surgeons whom are highly critical of their competition. This is usually a sign of insecurity and/or jealousy. There is never a problem with seeking a second opinion. Doctors that bash or talk down about other surgeons usually have something to hide and the patient should beware. You can bet if a surgeon talks bad about their competition, they also talk bad about their patients.

In the business of cosmetic surgery a bad surgeon does not stay in business long. Every patient who is treated by a surgeon is a walking advertisement. Most doctors are very sincere about providing quality surgery, the ones that do not won’t stay in business.