Factors to consider when picking plastic surgeon

Kathleen Back Brady 10:34 p.m. EDT May 29, 2014

Man-BotoxWhen you’re in the market for a house renovation, you usually get a referral from someone who knows the quality of the contractor’s work. And it’s good to get a few estimates from multiple contractors.

So when you’re looking for an aesthetic improvement for your face or body, how should you proceed with choosing the best plastic surgeon for the cosmetic procedure you’re seeking?

Never take this process lightly. It’s your body — and your health — at stake. You need to do your homework by researching and choosing the plastic surgeon who will ultimately give you the safest, best result possible to suit your particular needs.

The number one rule in choosing a plastic surgeon is to be certain that your doctor is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (and the Canadian Board of plastic Surgery for those in Canada). Plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery are extensively trained in all areas of plastic surgery.

Board certification will require your plastic surgeon to augment their learning with continuing medical education courses. That’s important to keep abreast of the latest procedures and innovations in the field.

“I think it is most important to question the surgeon’s experience and volume of your desired procedure. Asking to see a photo gallery as well as asking for references from former patients for particular procedures is also helpful,” said Ben J. Kirbo, M.D., of Southeastern Plastic Surgery, P.A.

“Talking to your friends about their experiences and results is always quite helpful,” says Laurence Z. Rosenberg, M.D., also of Southeastern Plastic Surgery, P.A. Seeking references from medical professionals may provide additional insight.

What are some indicators that a plastic surgeon has a good reputation? A plastic surgeon should be able to show you a portfolio of before and after photos of their work.

In many cases, plastic surgeons will also have you contact former patients who have undergone your same procedure and who can discuss their experiences.

Be careful with reading negative online reviews, however. Dr. Rosenberg notes, “Relying on online reviews can be a challenge. There is a saying in plastic surgery that a happy patient tells no one and an unhappy patient tells everyone.”

It’s a good idea to research whether your plastic surgeon has any disciplinary actions against them. Most state licensing boards will list malpractice judgments.

Do your homework to ensure that your plastic surgeon doesn’t have a bad history. If you have any doubts or concerns, a second opinion can be helpful.

Questions for your plastic surgeon

• Have a printed list of questions with you when you go for your consultation. Remember that no question is too stupid or too trivial. You need to be comfortable with your surgeon and to be able to communicate your concerns with them.

• Focus on your goals and ask about other alternative options or solutions. Ask how long the procedure will take to perform and ask how many of these procedures they have performed. Learn what major and minor risks are associated with the procedure.

• If the surgeon does procedures in an office-based facility, see if the facility is accredited. Ask whether you will need sedation or will they use local anesthesia only. Be sure to inquire about the length of the recovery period and post-op limitations and instructions.

• Ask about realistic expectations and final results. What medications are usually needed for pain or to promote healing? Which of your medications will need to be stopped before your procedure and for how long? How long will it be before all bruising and swelling are gone? Will there be noticeable scarring? Also ask about the surgeon’s policies on follow-up or any revision procedures.

All of these questions will help you determine which plastic surgeon is right for you and what you can expect after your procedure.

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