How to Find the Right Cosmetic Surgeon for You
Your choice of cosmetic surgeon will be a choice you live with for years, if not your entire life. A successful procedure will make you feel more like yourself and give you greater confidence for years to come. On the other hand, ending up in the hands of an inexperienced surgeon increases your chances of having poor results, which can lead to additional costs, time, and heartache
Make sure the cosmetic surgeon is board certified
Many people think they can depend on state medical boards to ensure that surgeons are qualified to perform the procedures they advertise, but that fact is that 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 surgery bandwagon in pursuit of greater profits.
Our view is that patients need a dependable way to know if their surgeon is properly trained and experienced in cosmetic surgery. That’s why we at the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) formed a board exclusively dedicated to cosmetic surgeons’ education, training, and certification.
Confirm the surgeon’s experience in the specific procedures you want
Each area of cosmetic surgery requires different skills: you can imagine how operating on a nose with bone, cartilage, and breathing passages would be quite different from operating on a breast, which is primarily comprised of soft tissue. Given this, cosmetic surgeons can have subspecialties within the field. Choose a surgeon who is board certified in cosmetic surgery and has substantial experience in the procedure you are considering
Choose a surgeon whose aesthetic sense appeals to you
We all know that what one person finds beautiful may be unattractive to another. For this reason, you can’t just trust a friend’s recommendation or solely depend on the cosmetic surgeon’s experience. You need to look carefully at the results for each surgeon you interview.
Insider Tips for Finding a Plastic Surgeon You Can Trust
Victoria Cross, a 57-year-old from Montgomery Village, Maryland, considers her breast reduction the best thing she’s ever done for herself. “When I woke up from the surgery and sat up, it was the first time in a very long time that I didn’t feel any pulling in my chest and my shoulders weren’t hurting,” she tells SELF. Cross, who had the procedure at the age of 45, was a D cup in high school and a G cup by the time she had her surgery. Now she’s a proud C cup and has never looked back.
But one of the reasons she waited until her 40s for the procedure was because of the difficulties involved in finding the right surgeon for the job. “Part of the reason for the length was convincing some of the offices that I wanted to ‘interview’ the doctor,” she explains. In other words, she wasn’t willing to sign the paperwork and meet her handler while she was lying on the operating table. This, experts agree, is a very important part of the process, and one that shouldn’t be ignored.
The number of women and men having plastic surgery is on the rise, with over 17.1 million cosmetic procedures taking place in the year 2016 alone, which means more and more people are trying to get into the aesthetics game. But you have to be careful about choosing the right professional to do the job. As plastic surgery attracts a growing base of eager patients, a number of unqualified physicians and even non-physicians are jumping on the cosmetic bandwagon, donning white lab coats and all. In addition to meeting the surgeon in person, it’s also strongly encouraged to check their background to make sure they’re certified to handle the exact procedure you’re looking to have.
Talk to friends, family members, and acquaintances who’ve had work done to get recommendations.
First, consider those close to you. Has anyone had work done? If you’re comfortable, reach out to him or her for advice. “A trusted friend or family member can give you an honest rundown of the entire process, from the consultation with the doctor and the surgery itself to the recovery process,”
Do your homework by reading up on reviews of surgeons in your area.
As one does this day in age, Issy Ryan, 38, of New York City, took to the Internet before settling on a surgeon to carry out her liposuction procedure. “For me knowledge is power, so I read review after review to get a sense of previous patients’ experiences and help me get to know a little bit about how each surgeon ‘operated,’ both in and out of the operating room,” she tells SELF.
Choosing the Right Cosmetic Surgeon
These guidelines can help you find the right cosmetic surgeon for your needs. First, you should interview two or three surgeons whose specialties match your needs.
There may be qualified surgeons in other professional organizations, but these are the primary groups that certify that doctors are qualified to perform cosmetic surgery.
Personal recommendations are important. Ask friends for referrals if they have gotten a similar procedure. Get opinions from your family doctor and other doctor acquaintances. Surgical technicians and operating room nurses are an excellent source for information about a surgeon’s skill in the operating room
Remember, cosmetic surgery is a highly competitive field. Don’t be confused by groups claiming to be “the only” or “the best” because this excludes many surgeons who may be better choices for your particular issues. Ask about their fellowship training — specialized training in specific procedures. Check with your state’s medical board to verify the surgeon’s board certification, education, and license. And check whether disciplinary action has been taken against the surgeon.
Questions to Consider Before Selecting Your Cosmetic Surgeon
At this point, you may have narrowed your choices to one or two cosmetic surgeons
Tips to Pick the Right Plastic Surgeon
What is the doctor’s training and certification? Any practicing physician may call him- or herself a cosmetic surgeon or may advertise that he or she performs cosmetic procedures. Only physicians who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery have received years of specialized training in plastic surgery (both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery) and have passed rigorous examinations to demonstrate their competence in the field. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons Web site has a feature to help you locate plastic surgeons who are board certified in the field.
What is the doctor’s experience with the particular procedure you are considering? Ask how many times he or she has performed the procedure and if he or she has received specialized training in the particular area. How long has the physician been performing the particular operation? Remember that not all surgeons will be experts in every area. A doctor who is an expert in breast augmentation surgeries may have little experience with nose reshaping.
At which hospital does the doctor perform the procedure? Are you comfortable with being treated in this hospital? Is the hospital accredited?
Does the doctor ask you about your reasons for having the procedure, and are you comfortable talking openly with this doctor? A good cosmetic surgeon will explain all alternatives to the procedure and will not pressure you into making a rapid decision.
Does the doctor answer all your questions clearly and fully? Your doctor should be frank about issues such as recovery time, potential side effects, risks, and realistic expectations for the outcome of the procedure. While “before and after” photos make a convincing statement, be sure to ask if the photos represent typical results.
Tips for Choosing a Plastic Surgeon
A Personal Decision
Having reconstructive or cosmetic plastic surgery is a big decision. It can change your life by correcting a defect or improving the way you look and feel about yourself. Choosing a plastic surgeon is one of the most important decisions you can make. How do you find the best plastic surgeon who is right for you? Here are some important factors to keep in mind.
Start by asking your primary care doctor for a referral list of plastic surgeons. You can also ask family, friends and other healthcare providers for recommendations. Take the time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience on Healthgrades.com. As you narrow down your list, call each plastic surgeon’s office to see if he or she is accepting new patients. If so, ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the plastic surgeon.
Research the Plastic Surgeon’s Credentials
Board certification is one of the most important factors to consider when you are choosing a plastic surgeon. It tells you that the doctor has the necessary training, skills and experience to perform plastic surgery. Also confirm that the plastic surgeon has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You can find the plastic surgeon’s medical school, training hospital, certifications, and malpractice and disciplinary history on Healthgrades.com and state websites.
Consider the Plastic Surgeon’s Experience
Experience matters when you’re considering plastic surgery. The more experience a plastic surgeon has with a condition or procedure, the better your results are likely to be. Such experience allows the plastic surgeon to prevent surgical complications and promptly recognize them if they occur. Ask how many patients with your specific condition the plastic surgeon has treated. If you need a specific procedure, ask how many of the procedures the doctor has performed and find out about complication rates—complications the doctor has encountered as well as your own risk of complications.
It’s important to feel comfortable with your plastic surgeon’s gender because you will need to openly discuss personal information. When it comes to plastic surgery, your own gender is also an important consideration. Cosmetic plastic surgery has traditionally focused on female patients. However, men also seek the benefits of plastic surgery and their needs are often different. Ask the plastic surgeon about his or her recent training and experience specifically related to your condition and your gender.