Plastic surgery is a significant investment in your physical and emotional well-being. It is not a decision that can be taken lightly, nor can the skill and qualifications of the provider be overlooked. This guide will walk you through how to choose a plastic surgeon so that you can make a confident, informed decision and enjoy the most natural-looking and flattering results.
1. Research Credentials & Qualifications
Choosing a plastic surgeon begins with thorough vetting and research. At a minimum, your plastic surgeon should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the only aesthetic surgery board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
Look for additional society memberships or professional affiliations, such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or The Aesthetic Society. Learning more about the surgeon’s advanced training, education, and specialized experience in your specific procedure can also be reassuring.
For example, I specialize in cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery for the face and body. I am also fellowship-trained in hand and microvascular surgery. Learn more about the importance of board certification in this related blog post.
2. Look at Patient Reviews & Testimonials
Next, consider the patient experience. The difference between finding a good plastic surgeon and a great one is how well they educate and treat their patients from start to finish. Patient reviews and video testimonials can be a great place to start.
Getting a balanced perspective from reviews can help you assess a plastic surgeon’s overall reputation and skill. Look for reviews that mention the consultation process: Did the patient feel rushed into making a decision? Did the plastic surgeon try to pressure them into getting more work done than the patient wanted, or did the plastic surgeon redirect them from what they thought wouldn’t be a good fit?
★★★★★ on Google
“I have nothing but amazing things to say about everyone at Lewis Plastic Surgery, from Dr. Lewis to his amazing PA Leslie and his coordinator Lee, Jade, and everyone else there made me feel so comfortable and at ease with every visit!” -Lauren M.
If you can, find reviews that mention postoperative care and the level of support the patient received. While satisfaction with the surgical results is an important consideration, it is one part of the entire experience.
3. Review Before-and-After Photos
A plastic surgeon’s photo gallery is akin to an artist’s portfolio. It reflects their technical skill and aesthetic sensibility and provides examples of their work and the type of results they can achieve.
When choosing a plastic surgeon, I encourage you to look for “before” cases that closely resemble yours, such as body type, ethnic characteristics (for a procedure such as rhinoplasty), or cosmetic concerns. These examples can give you more realistic expectations of what may be possible.
On the flip side, seeing diverse cases can show you whether a plastic surgeon tailors their procedures to the person or adopts more of a “cookie cutter” approach. Predictable, consistent results are important, but so is a personalized approach.
4. Assess Surgical Facility & Accreditation
Now that you’ve got a better sense of “who” and “how,” the next question to consider is “where.” Where does the plastic surgeon have hospital privileges? Does the surgical facility have Quad A (formerly AAAASF) accreditation, which testifies that the facility upholds the highest standard for safety, cleanliness, and patient care and education?
Knowing more about where your procedure will be done and how reputable the facility or hospital is can further give you peace of mind that you will be in the safest hands possible.
5. Ask Questions at Your Consultation
After conducting your research and scheduling your consultation, it’s time to ask your questions. To help you better understand the plastic surgeon’s expertise and approach and your procedure, we’ve assembled some important questions to ask during your consultation (or research beforehand).
Experience and Expertise
- Are you certified in plastic surgery? If so, by which board?
- Are you a member of any professional organizations related to plastic surgery?
- How many years of experience do you have as a plastic surgeon?
- How frequently do you perform this specific procedure?
- Can you show me before-and-after photos of your patients who have had this procedure?
- How do you tailor your approach to meet each patient’s individual needs and goals?
- Can you explain the procedure in detail, including the steps, expected results, and potential risks? Are there any alternative procedures or techniques suitable for my case?
- What type of anesthesia will be used, and who will administer it?
- How long is the surgery?
- What is the recovery process like for this procedure?
- What is the complication rate for this procedure, and how do you manage complications?
- What type of pain management is involved?
The Surgical Facility
- Do any recognized medical organizations accredit the hospital or surgical facility?
- What safety measures are in place to ensure a sterile and secure environment for the procedure?
- Will you be using any specialized equipment or technology during the procedure?
- What kind of postoperative care will be required
- How frequently will I need to follow up with you?
- Will you be available for any questions or concerns that arise after surgery?
Costs and Financing
- What is the total cost of the procedure, and what does it include (surgeon’s fees, anesthesia, facility fees, etc.)?
- Do you offer any financing options or payment plans?
A safe, uplifting plastic surgery experience with results you love begins by choosing the right plastic surgeon for your needs. By doing your due diligence and having realistic expectations about what plastic surgery can achieve, you can make an informed decision with optimal surgical outcomes.