Thinking Plastic

By staff November 1, 2003

With all the recognition cosmetic surgery has received lately in the media, it's hard not to want to climb on the bandwagon, especially if your ideal of beauty may be just one procedure away.

But before you leap off into the abyss of potentially unrealistic expectations, do your homework so you'll know what plastic surgery can do for you. Here are some tips from Dr. Robert Hillstrom of Hillstrom Facial Plastic Surgery in Sarasota.

Confirm your doctor's credentials. Hillstrom advises you to contact the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or the American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery. Their members are more than 5,000-strong and face strict regulatory requirements. They've also been around the longest, some 30 years.

Check their records. Hillstrom says it's simple to check on a physician's medical liability history by checking into the National Practitioner Databank, which publishes information about medical litigation. The databank's Internet address is

Schedule appointments with several finalists before you choose a doctor or a procedure. Says Hillstrom: "I'm always surprised by how many patients wind up on the table never having met their surgeon." Interviewing several different surgeons may give you alternate surgical options and will determine if you and the doctor are compatible. It will also assure you receive adequate care if you encounter any complications.

Finally, be realistic. "So much of what we do is managing expectations," says Hillstrom. After the bandages come off, and the swelling goes down, he says, "You're still going to be the same person."

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