Choosing A Plastic Surgeon

Choosing a Plastic Surgeon
Knowing What To Look For

Choosing a plastic surgeon is a decision that you will live with for years, if not for the rest of your life. Taking time, doing research, and educating yourself on what to seek out (and what to avoid) are critical for the success and safety of your procedure. While most people know that they need to do their homework, many aren’t necessarily sure what they should be looking for and what questions they need to be asking.  In this month’s blog, we will break down some important things to keep in mind when selecting your surgeon.

1.  Are they board-certified?

One of the most important things to check for in any prospective surgeon, is whether they are Board-Certified. It may seem counterintuitive, but the government does not require that a surgeon be specifically trained in the area of surgery they offer to their patients. Ensuring that your doctor is board certified is a way for you to assure they have received the proper level of training and education in the procedure you are researching. As one might imagine, the field of plastic (or “cosmetic”) surgery is often where patients are the most vulnerable. Many generally-trained doctors or surgeons take abbreviated courses on cosmetic procedures to increase their profit margins.  Insisting that your physician be Board-Certified is one of the best ways to keep yourself safe.

2. What is their specialty?

Once you’ve confirmed that your physician is board-certified, the next thing you should confirm is whether they are specifically experienced (and board-certified!) in the procedure that you want. For example, are they a doctor with facial plastics training who is now suddenly offering breast augmentation? Asking detailed questions about their expertise in the procedure you want, and how many years they have been doing it may make the difference between a “good” outcome instead of a “great” one.

3. Other things to keep in mind

The next few suggestions we make with our patients are a little more subjective. How your prospective doctor (and their staff) make you feel is another incredibly important factor. If you don’t feel listened to when you ask questions, or if the doctor and their staff are trying to sell you on something it may not be a good fit. Confidence and a level of comfort with your surgeon and their staff is crucial to having a successful patient/provider relationship. Here are some helpful questions to keep in mind when meeting with a surgeon:

  • Do I feel listened to when I ask questions (no matter how many of them there may be!)?
  • Do I feel like the doctor is answering me honestly? Is the staff honest as well?
  • Is the staff kind? Friendly? Are the professional and do they pay attention to detail?
  • Do I enjoy my time with them? (You don’t want to pick a surgeon you dread being around!)
  • Do I feel safe disclosing my full medical history with them?
  • Does the doctor’s aesthetic match my own? Are we on the same page about the end goal?

Lastly, the surgery center and its staff are equally as important as the surgeon. Make sure you ask about the credentialing of the surgery center AND the anesthesiologist. Look for AAAASF, AAAHC, or JCAHO operating facility certification. When undergoing anesthesia, your anesthetist should either be a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) or a Board-Certified Anesthesiologist.

Choosing a surgeon to work with is a crucially important decision. Take your time, come prepared, and always seek a second (or even third and fourth) opinion before making your selection. Any surgeon worth working with should never be offended by a prepared and knowledgeable patient!