By Carolyn Patten
Board-certified plastic surgeon Scott M. Aaronson M.D., F.A.C.S. began his desert practice in 1984, and for the last 11 years in a row has been named one of "America's Top Doctors" by Castle Connolly, the most respected medical survey company in the country. Hospitals commission this survey, which uses education, credentialing, and doctor history, plus peer reviews, to spot top doctors in dozens of different specialty fields. Doctors may not pay to be included. The Aaronson Plastic Surgery Center, across the street from Desert Regional Medical Center, specializes in cosmetic surgery and noninvasive procedures for all ages, and has an on-site overnight recovery facility for post-surgery patients. As a highly regarded plastic surgeon, Aaronson is often asked for advice on choosing both a surgeon and a procedure. He shares some important information in the interview here.
What is board certification? What credentials should my doctor have?
Above all else, your doctor should have board certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery, which has rigorous standards for education, continuing education, and training, as well as a long list of other benchmarks, including ethics and patient satisfaction.
What should I know about the facility where my surgery will be performed?
Be certain that your doctor is on staff at a local hospital and has admitting privileges in the event of an emergency. Check that the surgical facility is either affiliated with a local hospital or certified by the state, the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, or the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities.
What should I expect from a consultation?
The consultation should include a thorough physical exam, precise information on procedures, and a discussion of your options, including nonsurgical procedures. Your doctor should be clear and specific about his/ her treatment plan and the anticipated outcome. If you feel comfortable and have done your homework, you can rest assured that you've placed your trust in the hands of a good doctor.
What other factors are important in choosing my doctor?
You want a doctor who works full time in the Coachella Valley. He or she should be available for follow-up after the surgery, rather than turning you over to the office staff as some doctors do when they practice part-time in this area. Cost is also a factor, and while more experienced physicians may command higher fees, they should still be in line with the national average. Some patients opt to save money by going to Mexico; however, I emphatically advise against this because follow-up is nonexistent and the risks for poor outcomes are high, often resulting in complications and revisions that are both difficult and expensive. Monitored overnight recovery is critical for procedures such as facelifts, breast reductions, and tummy tucks. Most of my patients choose the state-of-the-art overnight care that's offered at the Aaronson Plastic Surgery Center.
Is it a good idea to research online for potential doctors and cosmetic procedures?
Patients may gain preliminary information about plastic surgery by researching online. However, since every patient's body is unique, I strongly advocate for an in-office consultation and physical examination whereby a determination can be made on the course of treatment that's best suited to the individual. An in-person appointment also allows the patient to meet the doctor and establish rapport. You can learn quite a bit about a doctor during the initial consultation, especially if you come prepared with good questions.
What's the right age to have plastic surgery? In your 40s? 50s? 60s?
Again, every patient's body is different, so I don't use age as a benchmark. I tell my patients the right time to consider plastic surgery is the day they look into a mirror and see something they want to correct.
What is the best course of treatment for sagging skin on lower face and neck? Are there any noninvasive procedures that can help? Or do I need a facelift?
Noninvasive procedures such as Botox, Dysport, Restylane, Juvederm, Sculptra and Volumna can greatly enhance your appearance; however, none of these treatments can achieve the same improvement as a facelift. To tighten the cheeks and neck, and remove excess fat in the neck region, a facelift is often your best option.
My 15-year-old breast implants have hardened and no longer look or feel natural. Do I need new ones?
This is a common problem that many patients are concerned about. To correct the issue, we remove the scar tissue and place new implants, which will restore a natural look and feel to your breasts.
After childbearing, my breasts are not what they used to be. I'm pleased with their size; however, they're no longer perky. What do you suggest to correct this?
A breast lift (known as a mastopexy) can be performed to tighten and lift, resulting in more youthful-looking breasts. Placement of implants is not required if you are satisfied with the volume you already have.
Despite healthy diet and exercise, I am unable to achieve a flat tummy. Also, with aging I've noticed the skin in the area is beginning to sag. Can liposuction solve these issues? Or do I need a tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck will remove the excess fat and tighten the skin of the abdomen, creating a more tonedlooking appearance. Liposuction by itself cannot achieve the same results as a tummy tuck since the procedure does not remove the excess skin.
I have puffiness and wrinkles in my lower eyelid area. What do you recommend to improve the appearance?
Lower blepharoplasty will remove the fat pockets that are causing the puffiness and in many cases, it will also tighten the skin. However, when wrinkling is of concern, I usually recommend that laser resurfacing be performed at the same time as the removal of the fat of lower eyelid. The combination of fat removal and laser resurfacing are ideal for creating a smooth undereye appearance.
We've all seen people and celebrities who've overdone their plastic surgery. Will a good doctor tell you when you've had enough?
Yes. Plastic surgery should enhance your appearance, not detract. He or she should advise you on which procedures are necessary to provide optimum yet natural-looking results. I take a conservative approach to plastic surgery. I never perform any procedure unless it has been fully approved and results have been well documented.
Dr. Aaronson graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami. He served his general surgery residency at the University of California, Irvine and plastic surgery residency at St. Joseph Hospital in Houston. He is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery.
To determine if plastic surgery is right for you, please contact the Aaronson Plastic Surgery Center to schedule a consultation.
Scott M. Aaronson, M.D., F.A.C.S.
1221 N. Indian Canyon Drive (across from Desert Regional Medical Center), Palm Springs, CA 92262
760-325-5255 • www.draaronson.com