The most important factor in all of plastic surgery – the one which determines your safety and outcome – is who you choose as your plastic surgeon. Always chose your surgeon wisely and carefully. Make sure he or she is board certified, experienced and safe.
Ask if your plastic surgeon is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Legally, any surgeon can perform plastic surgery procedures. Choosing a surgeon which has been certified by the ABPS is the best way to ensure your surgeon has had extensive training specifically in plastic surgery. This is the only board which issues certifications based on extremely rigorous criteria including 6-9 years of training dedicated to plastic surgery.
Ask if your plastic surgeon has hospital operating privileges to perform your procedure. These privileges are granted to surgeons based on rigorous credentialing by their peers. This is not the case in an office setting, which often have little to no oversight.
Ask if your plastic surgeon operates in an accredited ambulatory facility. This one is key. Accredited ambulatory facilities have been reviewed and identified as capable of responding to medical emergencies. This is your assurance that the team can take care of the patient if there is a problem and that they will have all the life support capabilities, training and equipment to respond to life threatening situations.
Ask how often your surgeon performs the procedure. This is not a question of specific numbers, it is about experience and expertise. Find out what your surgeon's relationship is with the procedure you are seeking. The best surgeons not only perform the procedure regularly, but they also publish in medical journals, they perform research, they engage in teaching and training and offer contributions to the advancement of the procedure.
Ask to see some before and after photos of patients who have had the procedure with your surgeon. Examine these photos carefully. Make sure you are not paying attention to irrelevant factors such as lighting, but to the details of the outcome of the surgery. Every cosmetic surgeon has their own aesthetic sense – their definition of beauty. Make sure you own aesthetic sense matches well with your surgeon's.
Ask about the risks of the procedure as well as the benefits. There is risk to any surgical procedure and you should be fully aware of all the risks before choosing to have your procedure.
Ask who does the anesthesia. It's vital that the he or she is a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). It's very important to make sure that the surgeon uses an anesthetist which has been trained and certified by this strict criteria and rigorous training, as it is one of the riskiest aspects of most cosmetic procedures.
Ask about your recovery, especially the first 24-48 hours. Ask when you will be able to return to work, when you can return to strenuous activity such as exercise and how long until you should start to see your final results.
Ask for a second opinion and seek a consultation with other board-certified plastic surgeons. It's good to receive additional perspectives to help you decide which of many options to take, or to affirm that a specific treatment is appropriate for your specific situation.
Ask for information from real people – family, friends, referrals and other physicians. Ask for references from other patients which your surgeon has operated on, and talk with these patients about their experience. Do not rely solely on the internet or the media and marketing networks to provide you with information about a procedure. There is a considerable amount of misleading information out there and patients should consider the accuracy of information from dubious and unverified sources.