Plastic surgery technicians

Whenever you go for plastic surgery in a surgical center it is likely that there will be a number of other health professionals in the operating room to help your plastic surgeon.
There may be:

  • An anesthesiologist, either another medical doctor who gives you anesthesia or a trained and licensed nurse anesthetist.
  • A circulating nurse is commonly in the room. He or she will perform the functions of charting, giving medicines and supplies to the operating table and being a patient advocate.
  •  A surgical technician or scrub tech, who performs the actual assisting of the cosmetic plastic surgeon.

Funnily enough, the role of circulating nurse was initially performed by technicians while the registered nurses worked as operating nurses opposite the surgeon. The role reversal occurred in the 1960s in the US.

Cosmetic plastic surgical technicians

A surgical technician is, after your plastic surgeon, the person who is most intimately involved with your operation. The surgical technician is responsible for:

  1. giving instruments to the surgeon
  2. assisting in the surgery by holding tissues, cutting sutures and in some cases closing incisions
  3. making sure that the surgeon has all materials needed for the surgery
  4. conveying requests to other members of the surgical team
  5. keeping track of all sponges, instruments and sutures
  6. acting as a patient advocate

Training for cosmetic surgical techs

The great majority of techs work in hospitals or surgery centers. Until 1974 there was no accrediting body to ensure uniform educational standards for surgical technicians. The National Board of Surgical Technology and surgical assisting (NBSTSA) is currently the accrediting body for those technicians that become licensed. However, there are a great many other technicians who received training in:

  • Junior college
  • Technical schools
  • The military as “medical orderlies” or “medics”;  these professionals work under the license of a nurse or medical doctor; in fact, the whole field started after World War I when a large number of experienced and trained soldiers returned home from the battlefield

Currently it is projected that there will be a shortage of surgical technicians, and it is one of the fastest growing employment areas in the US.

Other surgical technicians

As part of the operating team, the cosmetic tech is used to and knows about the technologies and instruments used for plastic surgery procedures. There are also a large number of other technicians who may be involved in your care when undergoing other types of surgeries. Orthopedic and cardiovascular surgeries often have specialized technicians in the operating room.

The plastic surgical technician is the person most directly involved in your cosmetic surgery after your surgeon. In fact, after 10 years’ experience, they have probably participated in more surgeries than your plastic surgeon has. After all, they work 8 hours a day 5 days a week in the operating room, and no surgeon does that!

and here is PART 3

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS

Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon

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