How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon

How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon on

How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon on

Questions you should ask any plastic surgeon

Choosing a plastic surgeon is probably the most important decision you’ll need to make when opting for a procedure. It is also one of the most challenging decisions. The options may seem endless, and it can be hard to determine if a particular surgeon has the right education, qualifications, and experience to ensure your health, safety, and the best possible results.

So how do you choose the best plastic surgeon for your procedure? Here are 7 questions to ask the surgeon and yourself:

1. Is he or she is board certificated in plastic surgery?

Only choose a surgeon who has undergone an evaluation and certification in plastic surgery. Why is this so important? CNN summarizes the benefits: “If you use a board-certified plastic surgeon, you know he or she has completed three to five years of training in general surgery and a minimum of two to three years of training in plastic surgery, plus they have to take written and oral tests.”

Tip #1: Be careful about which type of certification the doctor has. “The government does not require a surgeon to be specifically trained in the procedures they offer. This problem is most acute in the area of cosmetic surgery, as many doctors with general surgery or other medical training hop on the cosmetic surgeon bandwagon in pursuit of greater profits,” according to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.

2. Does he or she have experience with the type of procedure you want?

Each type of procedure requires specific skills – performing rhinoplasty is very different from a breast enhancement, for example. Few surgeons have experience in all types of plastic surgery, though many have expertise in multiple areas.

Tip #2: Most plastic surgeons will concentrate in several subspecialties, so you want to look for a surgeon who has considerable experience with the procedure you want performed.

The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery suggests asking the following questions: 

  • How did you train in the procedure I am considering?
  • How many years have you been performing this procedure?
  • How many times have you performed this type of procedure?

3. Is the facility is licensed and certified? 

Doctors aren’t the only ones who need to be licensed. Medical facilities also need to be certified by an independent accreditation body. Other people on the surgical team must be certified as well, including the anesthetist.

Tip #3: Inquire if the facility is certified by AAAASF (American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities), AAAHC (Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care), or JCAHO (Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations). The anesthetist should either be a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) or a Board-Certified Anesthesiologist.

You should make sure the surgeon also has privileges at an accredited hospital. “Hospitals do background checks so if the surgeon doesn’t have privileges that could be a sign of trouble,” according to a CNN article.

4. Do they have “Before” and “After” photos that you can see?

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words and that is certainly the case with plastic surgery. It’s important to look at before and after photos of the surgeon’s former patients. According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, “Compare each doctor’s results for the procedure you want…Pay attention to patients who have similar qualities to you.”

For instance: 

  • If you are going in for a facelift, look at pictures of patients who are around your age, have a similar facial structure, and have similar signs of aging.
  • For breast enhancement, look at women with a similar size, shape, and body type.
  • For a procedure such as a tummy tuck or liposuction, look for patients who have a similar body shape and composition.

5. Ask for referrals.

If you know someone who has had the same procedure you want done, it’s always a good idea to get referrals from people you trust. Ask about their overall experience, the quality of service, and satisfaction with the results. Make sure to get several names so you can compare. Also ask a surgeon you are considering if any of his or her patients are willing to provide testimonials or referrals.

6. Don’t forget state medical boards.

State medical boards review and certify all doctors and medical facilities. These boards are also responsible for conducting reviews if there is a complaint about a particular doctor or facility. Check your state’s medical board for records of any malpractice lawsuits or disciplinary actions.

7. Pay attention to the customer service.

You are going in for a surgical procedure. It is important that you are treated well by the doctor and staff; otherwise, you might be intimidated and not ask questions like you should.

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself according to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery: 

  • Is the staff friendly and helpful?
  • Do I get materials that fully prepare me for the risks and realities of surgery and recovery?
  • Are all fees clearly stated? Is the quote all-inclusive?
  • When I contact the practice, do I receive a prompt reply?

Choosing a plastic surgeon can be a challenge, but being armed with the right tools and questions will help you pick the right person who delivers great results. For consultations and questions, please contact Thomassen Plastic Surgery.