What should I look for to make sure that a surgeon is qualified? Which board certifications are the most important?

This is a great question, with a very important answer. Today, not only are there numerous plastic surgeons to choose from, but also there are many medical specialists performing procedures which previously only plastic surgeons performed. Because of this, it is helpful to understand the distinctions between their qualifications.

The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is the official, or "real" board of certification for qualified plastic surgeons. To be considered for membership, a surgeon must have successfully completed a minimum of three years of general surgery along with a minimum of two years of plastic surgery training in an accredited medical school program. After completing this training, practicing plastic surgery for two years, and passing intensely comprehensive exams, a surgeon may be granted membership to this exclusive governing board. Along with all of the mandatory criteria, Dr. Swanson completed five years of general surgery and three years of plastic surgery training, making her an extremely well qualified member of this most important board.

Following acceptance into the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a surgeon may obtain membership in the prestigious American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS). Members of this society may use the ASPS symbol in conjunction with their name and practice, indicating a commitment "to the highest standards of patient welfare and surgical excellence."

Only after becoming a member of the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), is a surgeon eligible to become a member of the highly honorable American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). To obtain membership into the ASAPS, a surgeon must perform a minimum of 100 cases per year; thus, membership in the ASAPS indicates a surgeon’s high level of experience.

Finally, a qualified surgeon earns the right to add the use of the initials F.A.C.S. to his/ her working title, only when he/ she is accepted as a "Fellow of the American College of Surgeons." For example: Linda Swanson, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Of all of the names, titles, affiliations, and associations presented to the public, it is the memberships listed here that represent the greatest degree of achievement and legitimacy for a plastic surgeon. Perhaps it goes without saying that Dr. Linda Swanson is an active member of all of the above.

Do I have to have general anesthesia? Is it safe? Who will be administering it?

Although, occasionally other doctors are willing to perform major procedures under a local anesthetic, Dr. Swanson is not. (For your comfort and safety we will use general anesthesia, unless it is minor procedure such as the removal of skin lesions or laser assisted liposuction.)  An experienced, qualified, board-certified anesthetist will administer the anesthesia, as well as monitor your vital statistics and comfort level during the entire procedure. This enables the surgeon to focus entirely on operating, ensuring that the patient receives optimum results.

Where is the surgery performed? Do I go home the same day? Do I need to have someone stay with me? 

Dr. Swanson operates in several qualified facilities in the South Bay and Los Alamitos areas. Depending on the case, she will operate at Plastic Surgery Center of South Bay or Torrance Memorial Medical Center and Los Alamitos Surgery Center. All procedures are "same day surgeries," meaning that the patient returns home after waking up from the anesthesia and a brief time in the recovery room. Most patients feel more comfortable in their own homes, than in a hospital. Patients do require someone to drive them to their surgery, and to pick them up afterwards. Also, patients should have someone to stay and care for them for the first twenty-four hour period following surgery.

How soon may I come in for a consultation? Is there a fee? What will be covered and who will I be meeting with? 

We will be able to schedule a complimentary consultation at your earliest convenience, as it coordinates with Dr. Swanson’s schedule. Please keep in mind that Dr. Swanson is in her Torrance office on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and in her Los Alamitos office on Mondays and Wednesdays. At the consultation, you will spend about an hour with Dr. Swanson, not a consultant. Dr. Swanson will speak with you about your personal goals and visions; she will then give you an honest assessment as to what can be to help your reach your desired ends. Dr. Swanson will discuss all of the possibilities with you in order for you to make the best decision for yourself.

Once all of your questions have been addressed, the Patient Coordinator will give you the cost breakdown for your surgery, along with information about available financing and  payment options. The patient coordinator may also answer any questions or concerns you have regarding scheduling.

After leaving the office, and begin assimilating all of the information you received, more questions are likely to arise. You are always welcome to call back or come in for a second visit. We are here to answer your questions, and we know that no question is silly. We understand that, no matter how much you want to have a procedure, it is still a surgery, and having a surgery is a big decision. Respecting the concern for your health, we want you to be as educated as possible before proceeding. You should feel good about this process from beginning to end; we want to help you make the best decision for yourself!

Is it possible to have more than one procedure at a time? 

Yes, some combinations of procedures are not only possible, but are actually ideal, for people who are in good health. Combining procedures may cut the cost and recovery time, when compared to having each surgery separately. Commonly, facial procedures, such as a facelift, eyes, and perhaps skin resurfacing with CO2 laser, may be done together. Another popular combination is breast augmentation or lift with an Abdominoplasty.  Other combinations are certainly possible and  Whatever combination you are considering, definitely ask Dr. Swanson during your consultation so that she can give you an honest assessment.

What is the recovery time? When can I go back to work? Exercise? Have sex? Drive? 

Although each individual will heal uniquely, there are some generalizations that can be made. Most facial procedures require about two weeks of recovery time before a patient is able to return to work. Also, with most breast procedures, such as breast augmentation and or lift, about one  week of recovery time is sufficient.  Ultimately, it will depend on the procedure you have, your body’s ability to heal, and your tolerance for functioning with any degree of discomfort. The general guidelines for driving are similar to those of working, and are mostly dependent on the amount of discomfort you are willing to cope with. The question of exercising is a bit more rigid, as the strain on your body is not merely discomfort, but may actually interfere with healing. In most cases, patients may resume low-impact exercise in approximately two weeks. And as for the question of sex, generally the ten days to two weeks rule is advised, depending on the procedure you have had. The important factor is not to elevate your blood pressure excessively before your incisions have healed. If your recovery is progressing quickly, however, Dr. Swanson may give you the "go ahead" a bit sooner.  Laser assisted liposuction (Smartlipo) allows your return to regular activities and work in just a day or two.  

How much does the whole procedure cost? What does it include? Will insurance pay for anything? What methods of payment are available? 

If you call the office, we can give you a rough estimate for any given procedure; however, after Dr. Swanson consults with you, and actually sees what you would like done, she can provide you with an actual fee schedule.

The "bottom line" fee you receive on the quote is all-inclusive, covering the surgical fee, the operating room fee, the anesthesia fee, as well as the cost of any implants, grafts. Also, you will receive all follow-up visits and care at no additional cost. The only other out-of-pocket expenses you may incur are fees for prescriptions and lab work. The labs consist of simple blood and urine tests, patients over 50 may be required to have an EKG.  These are usually covered by insurance . Unfortunately, insurance will not cover any cosmetic procedure. Even surgical excision of suspicious skin lesions is not covered by insurance unless there is proven malignancy.

Since cosmetic surgery is elective, all procedures are paid for in full prior to being performed. We generally collect the fees about a week prior to the surgery, during the "pre-op" appointment. We accept cash, credit cards, cashier’s checks, and any combination thereof. We also recommend a number of financing groups, who specialize in financing plans for plastic surgery; however, we do not finance directly through the office. By linking you with these groups, we can ensure that you get the best possible financing rates, along with the best possible medical care.

What happens after the consultation? How quickly can the surgery be booked? 

Available surgery dates can be discussed at the time of your consultation providing there is no medical reason to prohibit surgery. Also, many people desire to book their surgery near some pre-scheduled vacation time, which is usually ideal. One note of caution, however, is that if your vacation time falls during a common vacation season, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, the sooner you schedule, the better; these popular times fill up rather quickly. When you actually book your surgery, we require a nominal, but non-refundable, deposit to hold that particular day and time. This deposit is subtracted from the total cost of the surgery.

Once your surgery date is determined, we schedule your pre-op visit for about a week to ten days prior to the actual surgery. At this appointment, we prepare you for surgery. Dr. Swanson will answer any remaining questions that you have, give you a brief physical examination, take your pre-op photos, and give you any necessary prescriptions. We will also have you sign your consents, fill out a form for anesthesia, and collect your fees. Often, lab work is done on this day as well. Finally, we will give you instructions on how to prepare for the actual day of surgery, what to eat, what to wear, etc. After this, all you need to do is relax!

Do you use computer imaging? 

No, Dr. Swanson does not. The risk of using such aids is that they can be misleading. No matter how well the surgery goes results may not turn out exactly like the computer-generated image. Dr. Swanson prefers to use former patients as examples.  These “before and after” pictures will give an accurate indication of the type of results you can expect.  All can be found on this website and are all of Dr. Swanson’s own work.