American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals
 

Tips for choosing a plastic surgeon


If you are considering plastic surgery, you have some decisions to make. While many people spend a lot of time thinking about the procedure and the potential results, there is something much more important to consider. That is the choice of the right plastic surgeon. Not every physician is qualified or experienced in every procedure and choosing the right plastic surgeon isn't as simple as getting a referral. Referrals and internet research can give you a place to start but as a potential plastic surgery patient, you have a lot at stake – your safety and your appearance. You need to carefully evaluate the surgeon before you make the choice.

You want the plastic surgeon you choose to be better than good; he or she should be great – a proven expert. When making this critical choice, you should ask yourself a few questions...

  • Does my surgeon have the expertise required to safely perform the surgical procedure?
  • Does the physician have the experience with this type of procedure?
  • Has he or she produced exceptional results for other patients on a regular basis?

If the surgeon you are evaluating has all three qualities, you may have a winner.

Expertise

All plastic surgeons should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Plastic surgery is a highly, complex specialty that requires years of education and training. Board certification also allows you to ensure that a physician will meet safety requirements and has the medical skills needed but it is only the beginning. Asking your surgeon about his or her professional involvement in teaching, speaking or writing about the procedure you are considering will tell you that he or she is up-to-date on new techniques and technology.

Experience

In addition to the right training and education, your physician should have experience performing the type of surgery you are considering. Some surgeons specialize in particular procedures, and your procedure type should be in his "top three." A good rule of thumb is that he or she should have performed this type of procedure once or more per week for five years or more. Plastic surgery is a complex art and the surgeon needs to stay in practice. Having done a number of procedures over a number of years will help ensure that he or she has the skills that you need.

Exceptional Results

When most people think about plastic surgery – they think about the results they hope to get but not every plastic surgery story ends well. If you have ensured that your potential surgeon has the expertise and experience, you are on your way to choosing the right doctor but he or she also needs to produce exceptional results. Most plastic surgeons keep a file of "before and after" pictures which you should examine. Make sure these include at least two examples of "after" photos taken a year or more post-surgery.

By considering these three E's, you have taken care of the physical part of your plastic surgery but there is more. Your plastic surgeon should be personable as well. The difference between a good plastic surgeon and a great one can be credited to his interaction with his patients. For that evaluation, we have the three C's and three A's.

Your surgeon should be concerned about your feelings and overall wellness by being caring, compassionate and completely empathetic. He or she should also project confidence and have good communication skills by being amiable, available and able.

These tips will help you find a qualified plastic surgeon who will do a great job, but your relationship with the surgeon and how his or her staff interact with you will have a tremendous impact on your experience and outcome. If you are happy, confident and feel like you are being heard, your experience will be easier and less stressful which can make your recovery period easier and the ultimate outcome better.


The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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