1. Who is a candidate for plastic surgery?
Plastic surgery is a field that encompasses procedures that improve the form and/or function of many parts of the human body and face. It spans both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Patients are candidates for plastic surgery if they are healthy and would like to improve their form or function in a manner that can be done in a safe manner. This is an individual determination that Dr. Hsu will make during your initial consultation.
2. Is there a "right" age to pursue plastic surgery?
Different plastic surgery procedures are usually done on patients at different ages. For example, Dr. Hsu has operated on patients as young as 3 months of age for cleft lip repairs, and at the other end of the spectrum, he has operated on patients in their 90s for skin cancer removal! When it comes to aesthetic plastic surgery, the age limitations depend on the procedure and the patient. Dr. Hsu generally performs breast augmentation only on women who are at least 18 years of age; however, he will perform otoplasty (ear-pinning surgery) for children starting at ages 6 to 8. Similarly, facelifts or other rejuvenation procedures can be performed on patients at more advanced ages, but the patient’s health status needs to be considered to determine whether he/she is a good candidate for surgery. So it is highly dependent on both the type of procedure as well as the patient’s overall health.
3. How soon can I return to work? What is the recovery time?
The timing for returning to work depends on the nature of your job, as well as the type of procedure you have performed. Dr. Hsu generally will ask patients the type of work that they do, in order to be able to give them a realistic time table. For many operations, a good amount of the bruising and swelling is gone by 2 weeks, and much more of it is gone by 6 weeks. In terms of going back to work, most people can go back to desk jobs by about 2 weeks after surgery; for more physical jobs, you may need to wait until about 6 weeks after surgery. Again, Dr. Hsu tries to give each patient an individualized estimate at the time of consultation, based on the nature of their work, and the procedure that they are going to have performed.
4. What are the most common procedures?
The most common surgical procedures performed are breast augmentation, tummy tucks, facelifts, eyelid operations (blepharoplasty, both upper and lower), rhinoplasty, and liposuction. Other surgical procedures that Dr. Hsu commonly sees patients for are breast lifts with or without an implant (augmentation mastopexy), scar revisions, lipoma removal, and keloid removal. In terms of injections, Botox and Dysport injections are always in high demand to treat frown lines and crow’s feet, as well as fillers like Juvederm or Restylane for the laugh lines and for lip augmentation.
5. Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
Yes, Dr. Hsu is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
6. Why is it important to choose a plastic surgeon who is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the single gold standard for board-certification of plastic surgeons in the United States. In order to be board-certified by the ABPS, diplomates must have first completed a plastic surgery residency or fellowship, which consists of 3-6 years of specialized plastic surgery training after 4 years of medical school. Then, candidates must demonstrate surgical proficiency by submitting all surgical cases that are performed over a period of 7 months for review by examiners, including outcomes for all operations and how the plan of care was determined for each patient. Candidates then need to first pass a written exam, and then afterward fly to a central location for a 3-day oral examination which includes a rigorous review and questioning of their submitted case log, as well as a testing of their decision-making capability on a series of “unknown” patients with unique plastic surgery problems. The entire time required from the beginning of medical school, until board certification by ABPS, takes a minimum of 12 years.
Unfortunately, as patients have started to look for board-certified plastic surgeons, many groups have sprung up, naming themselves “boards” as well, with the effect of confusing patients. These organizations are too numerous to list, and every year, there are new ones. Some practices who join these boards may even claim that they are “equivalent” to ABPS, or “separate but equal” to ABPS, or “a parallel track” to ABPS. Don’t be fooled — they are not! The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only board in plastic surgery that is recognized by the governing group that regulates all medical specialties.
7. Were you trained specifically in the field of plastic surgery? How many years of plastic surgery training have you had?
After graduating from Harvard Medical School, Dr. Hsu completed all 6 years of Stanford University Medical School’s Plastic Surgery Residency Program in 2008. He was even awarded a Teaching Award for best teaching resident.
8. Is there a lot of pain after doing a procedure?
Most patients do not experience much pain from the procedure, because we always prescribe appropriately strong pain medications for patients undergoing procedures. While there is variation depending on the patient and the procedure, it’s usually the first two or three days that are the toughest. Some patients try to avoid the pain medications, but Dr. Hsu will encourage patients to take the meds during those first few days, and they are usually pretty comfortable when they take the medications on schedule.
9. Where is the plastic surgery performed? What type of anesthesia will be used during the procedure?
This is also an individual determination, depending on your overall health and the type of procedure you are undergoing. For procedures requiring general anesthesia, Dr. Hsu performs the operations in an accredited surgicenter, or a hospital setting if an overnight stay is required. For smaller procedures that are done under local anesthesia, these can be done in-office.
10. Will there be scars?
All surgery leaves scars. If there were a way to perform surgery without scarring, plastic surgeons would be doing it all the time! Fortunately, board-certified plastic surgeons are trained to camouflage scars and to help them heal and fade as much as possible. When Dr. Hsu closes the skin, he also uses a technique called layered closure, where stitches are placed in different layers of the skin, to achieve a very thin scar. Scars do undergo a usual maturation period, where they can darken in the first 4-6 weeks, and then afterward, will fade slowly over the next 12 months.
11. Is plastic surgery covered by insurance?
Some procedures are covered by insurance, depending usually on whether they are functional problems. Insurance companies vary in their policies, so it depends on whether the surgery is for medical necessity, as judged by them. Unfortunately, insurance does not cover cosmetic procedures. The best way to determine in your particular case is to be seen in consultation first. Depending on the procedure that is needed, we can then submit a request for authorization to the insurance company to see if the surgery will be covered by insurance.