How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon
Choosing a plastic surgeon is an important choice that only you can make. Here are five crucial considerations to help you select the plastic surgeon that is right for you.
- Board Certified in Your Procedure: Your plastic surgeon should be board-certified. Just as there are different classes of driver licenses, there are also different certifications in the field of plastic surgery. Board certification guarantees they have completed 6-8 years of training in an accredited plastic surgery training program — after medical school, as well as written and oral examinations and yearly continuing education and peer review.
Your surgeon should also be a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. This organization only admit board-certified plastic surgeons or facial plastic surgeons and add further qualifying criteria for its members. Because cosmetic procedures are elective by nature, the referral process that exists for traditional medical procedures is less established for cosmetic surgery. For instance, you’ve very likely done your homework and found a trustworthy primary care doctor. When they suggest a heart doctor or a kidney specialist, their recommendation is comforting and confidence building.
Cosmetic surgeons can operate separately from traditional health systems, so board certifications and memberships provide evidence that your plastic surgeon is held to strict criteria of ethics, skills, safety, and hygiene, as well as continuing education throughout his or her career. Given the clout that comes with board-certification, there isn’t a valid or conceivable reason why someone offering cosmetic surgery would not be a member of a professional and certifying organization.
Though unlikely, any licensed general physician is legally allowed to advertise as a plastic or cosmetic surgeon, even without formal training or certification. That’s one reason certification is so important. Membership information will usually be clearly visible on their website.
- Trust Your Instincts: Do you feel comfortable and confident? One of the most important criteria in selecting a plastic surgeon is simply the feeling you get when you meet and speak with the surgeon and staff.
The office environment and consultation should feel comfortable. Communication should be honest, transparent, and thorough. Your plastic surgeon should present the benefits and risks of the procedure specific to your individual needs and situation. Questions should be encouraged and answered realistically. Your plastic surgeon should ask questions to gain a true understanding of your vision. He or she should operate in good faith and be an expert at what they do. Find one you can trust and be open with.
Office visits should always be professional and educational. You should also be granted as much time as you need to make a decision before scheduling your procedure. A practitioner who doesn’t have adequate time to answer your questions and concerns in detail is unlikely to provide the attention required to optimally meet your surgical goals.
Find someone who understands your perspective and desired outcome. Look for a plastic surgeon who is open, confident, and knowledgeable.
- Avoid Red Flags: Price is an important gauge of quality. Prices too low can actually be indicative of subpar or even dangerous operating conditions. Professional cosmetic surgery comes with various costs. National cost averages for cosmetic procedures as listed here are made available by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). As will other important purchases, cheaper does not always mean better. The prices you see listed are baseline prices, to which many additional costs or fees are added. You’ll notice the ASPS-provided information states the fees listed are averaged only and do not include anesthesia, facilities fees, or other related expenses.
In reality, the cost of your procedure is almost always likely to be quite a bit higher. If you have found a plastic surgeon that seems to meet your criteria and yet you find yourself questioning their offered rates, get a second opinion from another board-certified plastic surgeon as a point of reference.
A cost too low could be a red flag you want to avoid. Price can be a measure of surgical qualification and operating practices.
- Scour the gallery: Plastic surgery is a fine blend of artistry and science. While every procedure involves a detailed understanding of the physical anatomy, your final outcome depends on the eye of the surgeon. Does your surgeon have a “before and after” gallery available? Do you personally like what you see there? Is the surgeon comfortable sharing details about the surgical techniques utilized when looking at post-operative photos? It takes surgical experience to deliver a final look tailored to you as a unique individual.
Choose a plastic surgeon who speaks realistically about surgical outcomes and whose aesthetic sense aligns with yours.
- Review the Reviews: It is easier than ever to learn about outcomes directly from others who have already had the experience. Online reviews provide an excellent gauge of the care and quality of a plastic surgeon’s work. These are readily available on Google and other websites, as well as on the surgeon’s social media accounts. As it isn’t always possible to please everyone, you may find ratings and reviews of less than 5 stars, so it helps to look at majority consensus. It is also important to note how the doctor may have responded to any review suggesting extreme dissatisfaction. His or her response will help you gauge how he or she might reply to a patient who came out of a procedure less than satisfied.
Choosing a great plastic surgeon is a critical component of your surgical journey. Do not be afraid to research and review.