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Frequently Asked Questions

What is plastic surgery?

Plastic surgery is the medical specialty that deals with the correction of form and function. Plastic surgery encompasses many areas of sub-specialties: reconstructive, craniofacial, hand, wound, burn, micro-vascular, pediatric, and cosmetic. The word “plastic” is derived from the Greek plastikos, which means to mold or shape. There is no association with the synthetic polymer material known as “plastic”

How is reconstructive plastic surgery different from cosmetic (aesthetic) plastic surgery?

Reconstructive plastic surgery is performed to correct functional impairments caused by burns, traumatic injuries,congenital abnormalities, infection or disease, or removal of cancers or tumors. It is usually performed to improve function and to restore a normal appearance. Cosmetic plastic surgery deals with the enhancement of appearance.

What is the difference between a plastic and cosmetic surgeon?

While the training for plastic surgery is broad and involves many years of study and application, cosmetic surgery training is not as well regulated and varies from taking weekend courses to training in 6 to 12 months. Asking for a plastic surgeon over a cosmetic surgeon increases the chances that your surgeon is not only skilled enough to take care of your needs, but properly trained to have options of care available for your given problem. Dr. Gabriel Chiu is a plastic surgeon.

What is board certification?

Board certification is the process by which an allopathic (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO) in the United States documents by written, practical and/or stimulator-based testing a mastery of the basic knowledge and skills that defines an area of medical specialization. There are three agencies/organizations in the US that oversee the certification of MDs and DOs: American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), American Osteopathic Association Bureau of Osteopathic Specialties (AOABS), and American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS). These are separate but equal certifying boards.

In addition to the initial certification process, physicians should maintain certification through an ongoing process of education and assessment to improve practice performance. Dr. Gabriel Chiu is board-certified.

Does certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery guarantee a better surgical outcome?

There are 3 recognized American boards for plastic surgery: the American Board of Plastic Surgery (associated with the American College of Surgery), the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons, and the American Board of Physician Specialties (associated with the American Association of Physician Specialists – the only board to accept diplomats of ACGME, AOA, and RCPSC residencies).

As parallel boards, they ensure the same training and testing. In a field as specialized as plastic surgery, the surgeon’s artistic touch can be as significant as his or her training. A patient must keep in mind that each surgeon has individual preferences and techniques, as well as skill levels and experiences, resulting in different surgical outcomes. As such, certification for ANY board doesn’t guarantee a better surgical outcome. Communicating with the plastic surgeon and reviewing his previous work can help ensure that you get the results you desire.

What is a “DO”?

DOs are osteopathic physicians who are fully educated and licensed to practice all aspects of medicine. Osteopathic physicians may be certified to specialize in family medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, surgery, internal medicine, and all other medical specialties and subspecialties.

DOs have a patient centered approach to health care that is sought after by patients in medical offices and hospitals across the country and in the U.S. Armed Services. They use all of the resources of modern medicine to prevent, detect, and treat disease including prescribing medication and performing surgery when indicated. But they also offer their patients something extra.Osteopathic physicians are specially trained to perform Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), a method in which they use their hands to diagnose and treat the patient, giving particular attention to joints, bones, muscles and nerves. OMT is employed to relieve pain and discomfort and, even more importantly, it assists your body’s ability to heal itself.

Their appreciation of the relationship between structure and function and use of OMT allow them to diagnose and effectively treat conditions that may elude non-osteopathic clinicians. Because of this appreciation for the interrelationship between mind, body, and spirit osteopathic physicians can provide you with the most comprehensive medical care available.

How does a DO compare with an MD?

DOs and MDs comprise of separate but equal branches of American medical care. Their similarities include: (1) both undergo 4 years of basic medical education; (2) after medical school, both select a medical specialty and complete necessary residence and internship programs (2-6 years); (3) both must pass state licensing exams; and (4) both practice in fully-accredited and licensed health care facilities.

The primary difference is that DOs practice an integrated, “whole person” approach to medicine, whereas MDs take a symptomatic, isolated approach. Additionally, DOs receive extra training in musculoskeletal system, and in the case of a DO plastic surgeon, it enables him to better understand the unique differences of the human body.

What type of anesthesia will be used for my surgery?

There are a few classes of anesthesia that may be used: local, sedative, and general. The type of anesthesia that your surgeon will select depends on factors such as the type of surgery, complexity of surgery, length of surgery, and the patient’s health. Sometimes a patient will be asked for his preference among methods of anesthesia.When under local anesthesia, numbing medication is placed in the area of surgery to minimize discomfort and sensation. The patient is fully awake and can be discharged immediately following the procedure. With sedation, a patient is given medication intravenously (I.V.) to place him in a state of decreased consciousness. Local anesthetic is usually given along with sedation to minimize any discomfort. With this method, a patient is technically awake, but with little or no memory of the events and surroundings during the procedure. Some refer to this as “twilight anesthesia or sleep.” Following this method of anesthesia, a patient needs to recover for a short period of time before going home.

With general anesthesia, a patient is a deep sleep while his airway is protected with a “breathing tube.” A qualified anesthesia provider administers medications that depress the central nervous system, thus making them insensible to painful surgical stimulation and depress the body’s vital reflexes. Minor side effects from general anesthesia, including nausea, sore throat, headache, and muscle aches, tend to resolve on their own within hours or a few days after surgery. The anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist will continuously monitor the patient throughout his surgery. Patients who undergo general anesthesia will not be permitted to drive or operate heavy machinery for a minimum of 24 hours.

What are my options for post-surgical or recovery care?

Most plastic surgery patients can comfortably recover at home after their procedure as long as they have a good support group to assist with minor tasks. Sometimes the surgeon may recommend his patient to have more attentive care, such as a visiting nurse, an aftercare facility, or prolonged hospital stay, due to the intensity of the surgery, the patient’s medical history, the patient’s preference, or a combination of the above. Dr. Gabriel Chiu will discuss the most appropriate options with you.

Is plastic surgery covered by insurance?

Many reconstructive plastic surgery procedures are covered by insurance, depending on the patient’s health care coverage. Most procedures that are considered to be cosmetic in nature are usually not covered. Our trained Patient Care coordinators can you investigate insurance eligibility, coverage, and related insurance concerns prior to surgery.

Where is the plastic surgery performed?

The location for your surgery will be determined by Dr. Gabriel Chiu after consideration of various risk factors, including type of procedure, complexity and length of surgery, health of patient, and any issues involving the patient’s recovery. After careful evaluation for your safety, Dr. Chiu will recommend a hospital-based operating room, an outpatient surgery center, or an office-based procedure room as the most appropriate location for your procedure. The chosen location is fully accredited and is selected for its quality of care, safety, comfort, and convenience.

Can I finance my procedure?

Yes, you can finance a portion or the entire cost of your procedure(s). We offer a variety of financing programs, including 0% interest rate and extended payment plans with Care Credit, Chase Health Advance, and SurgeryLoans.com. Our surgical consultants can assist you with all aspects of the financing process. Click here to download the financing application. You can either fax the completed application to our office, or bring it with you to the initial consultation.

What are my options for minimizing or managing the amount of pain?

The prescription you will receive will depend on your surgery. Besides antibiotics, a pain reliever will also be given post-operatively. Discomfort and pain is your body’s way of telling you that something has happened. Pain medication alone may not provide adequate relief. Dr. Gabriel Chiu may recommend a “pain pump” to supplement your relief. This is a portable machine that continuously administers local anesthetic into the wound area for relief of pain. Similar in concept is a “pain patch,” whereby small doses of medication are delivered through the skin and into the bloodstream.

Sometimes your body registers pain as a different discomfort, such as muscle spasms or pressure. In scenarios like these, a muscle relaxer can be more beneficial than a narcotic. There are also supplemental medications that can potentiate (increase the pain relieving properties) narcotics. It is important to discuss medications with your surgeon, and to together develop a plan to make your post-operative course more tolerable.

For questions relating to specific procedures, please click here to access the Procedures pages.