Tips for Choosing The Best Plastic Surgeon
1. Find out if the surgeon is board certified
Surgeons that are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) are uniquely qualified and specially trained in the field of plastic surgery. Typically board certified plastic surgeons have lower complication rates and provide superior patient care compared to physicians without certification.
To become certified by the ABPS plastic surgeons must:
- Earn a degree from an accredited medical school
- Successfully complete 3 years of general surgery
- Successfully complete a 2-3 year residency program in the field of plastic surgery
- Have at least 2 years of professional practice following residency
- Pass various oral and written exams administered by the ABPS
The American Board of Medical Specialties oversees the ABPS and sets high training and education requirements for entrance. You can easily check if a doctor is board certified by clicking here.
2. Check the surgeon’s record
You can go the medical board of your state to verify that the surgeon is licensed to practice within that state and view any disciplinary actions taken against the surgeon. Typically all that’s needed to obtain this information from the board is to submit a records request either through the mail or online.
3. Make sure the surgery will be performed in an accredited facility
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) requires that its members operate in accredited facilities when any significant anesthesia is used in the procedure. Accredited facilities are surgical rooms that meet strict standards for equipment, personnel, and room safety. In order to receive and maintain accreditation, the facility must adhere to various standards established by state and federal guidelines.
There are three primary agencies that certify facilities. These include the American Association for the Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF), the Joint Commission, and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, Inc. (AAAHC).
4. Ask if the surgeon has hospital privileges
This is an easy way to verify the qualifications of a surgeon. Hospitals conduct detailed background checks prior to granting a physician privileges to operate within their facilities. Thus, privileges from a reputable hospital are a good indication that the surgeon is qualified and in good standing.
5. Ask detailed questions
One of the best things to do is to ask the surgeon detailed questions that may include:
- How many times have you performed this specific procedure?
- When did you start doing this procedure?
- How many years of experience do you have?
- Will anyone else be assisting with the procedure? If so, what training do they have?
- What specific technique will be used? Why use that technique over others?
- Are you insured for malpractice?
- If sedation is utilized, who will administer and monitor sedation?
- What contingency plans are in place in the event of an emergency?
- Realistically, what results can I expect?
- Have you had instances of complications with this procedure? If so what were they?
- Do you do revisions and at what cost?
6. Make sure the plastic surgeon is a good match
A consultation is a great opportunity to make sure the surgeon is a good fit. If you meet the surgeon during the consultation, pay attention to the surgeon’s overall demeanor. Are questions answered in a detailed and professional manner? Does the surgeon take his or her time during the consultation to answer your questions, or do they seem rushed? Are you confident in this person’s ability to operate on you?
The surgeon’s mannerisms and personality during the consultation is a good indicator of how the surgeon will act during the surgery and post-operatively.
7. Beware of bargain prices
If pricing seems too good to be true, chances are it probably is. Cheap plastic surgery can become very expensive if revisions are necessary or complications arise. While the low sticker price or Groupon deal may be enticing, the reasons behind advertising low prices can be concerning:
- The quoted price could exclude other fees or after procedure costs.
- The facility where the procedure is performed may be outdated and non-compliant.
- The surgeon may be using outdated/expired tools or implants.
- The surgeon may lack experience or still be in training.
- The practice is in desperate need of new patients.
8. Review before and after photos
A picture really is worth a thousand words. Nothing speaks more to a the ability and training of a plastic surgeon than before and after photos from real patients who underwent the procedure you are interested in. Ask the surgeon for images of patients of similar age or who had the same goals and body type/face type as you do. This is a great indicator of the type of results you can expect.
9. Talk with previous patients
A great way to gain insight on the surgeon is to ask previous patients about their experience and results. Ask friends or family for referrals. You can also turn to forums and websites such as RealSelf to communicate with previous patients of the surgeon and ask about their experience.