How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon
What Should I Look For In A Plastic Surgeon?
When you choose to have plastic surgery, there's nothing more important than partnering with a qualified, skilled, and compassionate surgeon.
You probably have many physicians in your community, so making a choice can be tough. If you consider all of these important factors, the decision will be easier, and your plastic surgery experience will likely be a positive one.
Be sure the surgeon is board certified in plastic surgery.
You can check a doctor's certification on the website of The American Board of Medical Specialties.
Board certification in plastic surgery is important because:
- Many physicians with board certifications in other fields, i.e. dermatology, internal medicine, ophthalmology, can legally perform cosmetic surgery. It is important to know that the surgeon you select is a board certified plastic surgeon.
- Board certified plastic surgeons have focused and rigorous training. They are required to have 3-5 years of surgery training, followed by 2-3 years of specialized plastic surgery training. This includes written and oral tests.
- Board certified plastic surgeons are also required to do ongoing education and training or CME (continuing medical education) and a written test every ten years.
Check the surgeon's background and record.
If a surgeon moves from city to city, it could be a sign of trouble. It is common for physicians to seek training in different parts of the world, but once they establish a practice, they usually stay in that location.
- Know the history of the surgeon.
- Check if malpractice suits have been filed against the doctor by contacting or looking at your state's medical board website for this information. You can also obtain disciplinary actions that were taken by the medical board. In many states, these records can be viewed online.
- See the AMA website for a list of state medical board websites
Find out if the surgeon has privileges at a local hospital.
Even if you're not planning to have surgery in a hospital, or the surgeon has a private facility, hospital privileges are an indication that the doctor has solid credentials and a good reputation in the community. If a surgeon doesn't have hospital privileges, it is important to know why.
Read the surgeon's CV (curriculum vitae).
Find out where the surgeon went to medical school and view the type of training he or she received. Surgeons who complete a residency in plastic surgery undergo two or three years of intensive training that covers a full scope of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures.
Many plastic surgeons belong to professional medical groups that have strict requirements for membership. If a surgeon says that he or she is a member of a society, write it down and do your research; learn what it takes to be a member of that group.
Ask the doctor when he or she last performed the procedure.
The surgeon performing your procedure should have experience. If the surgery is performed on a regular basis, you will have options to view photos of previous work, or even make contact with a patient who has recently had the same procedure.
During your consultation, ask:
- How often do you perform this procedure?
- How many times have you performed this surgery?
- Will you be performing the surgery in its entirety?
Ask your friends or your family doctor for referrals.
Friends and relatives are often surprisingly good resources. If you ask, they may refer you to surgeons they trust, or refer you to a friend who has recently undergone a procedure with a local surgeon.
Your family physician may also know about the reputable plastic surgeons in your area. Ask for their names during your next appointment.
Schedule consultations with more than one surgeon.
During these consultations, you should feel free to ask any question you have about the procedure or about the surgeon and his/her experience. A good surgeon will answer all of your questions, understanding why you want to know the answers.
You'll get detailed information about your options, and be able to determine the doctor's personality, patience, and willingness to respond to your needs. It is very important to have a good feeling about the surgeon during the consultation.
Bring your spouse, a good friend, or somebody whose opinion you value, to your consultation. They can help you evaluate the surgeon by asking additional questions and observing the communication during the meeting process.
The office staff and medical staff often reflect the professionalism of the doctor, so take note of their demeanor as well. Your experience will be smooth and pleasant if they are caring, professional and conscientious, just as your surgeon should be.
Read what other patients have said, but question the source. Where do the reviews come from?