Louis C. Cutolo, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.
1557 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10314
Phone: (718) 720-9400
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Plastic Surgery FAQ
When you’re considering aesthetic surgery, you probably have many questions. Dr. Louis Cutolo makes a point of responding thoughtfully and honestly to questions asked by patients at his Staten Island cosmetic plastic surgery practice from Brooklyn, New York City, and New Jersey. He prides himself in providing the details and information they need to make the right decisions about procedures that can transform their lives.
Dr. Louis C. Cutolo Jr.
Plastic Surgery Questions Answered by Dr. Cutolo
Because Dr. Cutolo views educating his patients as part of his mission to provide exceptional care, he has crafted these responses to the questions most commonly asked by his patients.
What is plastic surgery?
Plastic surgery is a surgical sub-specialty that deals with healing and restoration of the patient’s natural form and function. This may include improving disfigurement or scarring from trauma, disease, or congenital defects. It also includes cosmetic surgery to correct or rejuvenate facial and bodily features that are displeasing to the patient. All of the principles of cosmetic surgery are derived from reconstructive procedures, and that is why it is important that you go to a board-certified plastic surgeon. A surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery has been fully trained in reconstructive surgery as well as cosmetic surgery. Because reconstructive surgery is the basis for cosmetic surgery, a surgeon cannot excel in cosmetic surgery procedures such as breast augmentation if he has not had training in facial and body reconstruction.
How does a physician become a plastic surgeon?
Training to become a plastic surgeon is a long and arduous task. To become a board-certified plastic surgeon (certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery), a physician must complete at least 7 years of surgical specialty training after 4 years of medical school. Most plastic surgeons complete a 5-year training program in General Surgery, although a small number train in ENT or Orthopedic Surgery. Following the initial training program in surgery, a 2 or 3-year accredited Plastic Surgery Fellowship is then completed. Prior to official certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the physician must pass a rigorous set of both written and oral examinations. While numerous physicians use the term “plastic surgeons” or “cosmetic surgeons” to describe themselves, only those certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery are true plastic surgeons.
What questions should I ask before choosing a plastic surgeon to make sure that he is qualified?
Bring a checklist of questions to help ensure the safety and quality of your procedure. I recommend asking the following:
- Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
If the doctor claims to be “board certified,” ask him which board did the certification. Certification by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is NOT the same as certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Only the American Board of Plastic Surgery is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, and it is the only board that can certify plastic surgeons!
- Do you have hospital privileges to perform this surgery?
Many procedures can be performed in an office setting but it is important to find out if your doctor has the ability to perform the same procedure in a hospital. Before granting operating privileges to a surgeon, the hospital review committee will verify the physician’s credentials and training to evaluate his competency. Many “cosmetic surgeons” perform procedures in their offices but cannot obtain hospital privileges because they lack the proper training. Should you have a post-operative complication after undergoing a procedure by one of these physicians and should you need hospitalization for correction, your operating physician will not be allowed to provide the necessary care – and you will be stuck trying to find someone to address the issue.
- What are the risks involved with the procedure?
There are risks with every procedure. Ask the surgeon to discuss the risks that are relevant, how often they occur, and how will they be handled if they occur.
- What is the expected recovery time?
Be sure to discuss post-operative restrictions on activity and time periods for returning to work.
- How much will the surgery cost?
Cosmetic surgery is not covered by insurance and payment is always expected in advance. Costs will include the surgeon’s fee, and fees for the surgical facility (hospital) and anesthesia. Other possible costs may include post-operative garments, pre-operative blood work, and medications. Should the rare need for a hospital operating room be needed to correct a complication, it may or may not be covered by your insurance. You should contact your insurance company to find out if you are covered for complications related to cosmetic surgery.
Will I have a scar after plastic surgery?
Yes! Scarring is the result of any incision. Part of the reason you should choose a board-certified plastic surgeon is that he has spent years mastering the techniques of wound closure. The technique with which he closes the wound and the proper orientation of the incision should lead to a fine line that will be hardly noticeable. Scars mature and fade over time, but you must remember that each person heals differently.
Who is a candidate for plastic surgery?
The best candidates for plastic surgery, either reconstructive or cosmetic, are people with realistic expectations! They must understand the limits of medicine, technology and their own bodies. Good candidates have a strong self-image, a definitive goal and a strong reason for pursing a procedure. They are looking to improve a trait, knowing that while it will enhance their self-image, it will not change other peoples’ perception of them. Dangerous motivations include undergoing a procedure to gain popularity or to reverse a recent life crisis.
Patients should also be healthy. People with significant medical illness will not be good candidates for cosmetic surgery. During your consultation, you will be asked about your medical history as well as medications you may be taking in order to see if you will be able to safely undergo the procedure. Your safety is our first and foremost concern!!!
Am I too old to pursue plastic surgery?
There is no rule with respect to age. As long as your goals are realistic and there are no medical contraindications, you can undergo plastic surgery at any age.
Where is the surgery performed?
That depends on the procedure and the patient. Procedures done on healthy patients under local anesthesia can usually be done in the office. Procedures done needing sedation or general anesthesia are best done in a hospital setting and are usually done on an outpatient basis. BUT…a patient with multiple medical issues may need to have the procedure performed in a hospital setting even if the procedure will be done under local anesthesia. This will be discussed with you during your cosmetic plastic surgery consultation. Whether you live in Brooklyn or Staten Island, it is important to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon who has hospital privileges, so that your surgery can be performed in a hospital setting.
How much pain is involved in plastic surgery?
Each procedure carries with it some discomfort and will require different levels of anesthesia. In most situations, the type of procedure will dictate the method of anesthesia needed to provide the most comfort to the patient.
After the procedure, you will be given postoperative pain medication to reduce any discomfort you may perceive. Every day after the procedure the discomfort becomes less and most people have minimal issues within a few days after the operation.