5 Questions to ask when choosing a Plastic Surgeon

Choosing a Plastic Surgeon is an important decision. You place an enormous amount of trust in your surgeon and he/she ultimately is responsible for your cosmetic results and your safety. No matter how you first found your surgeon, there are some key questions to ask before you commit to surgery. As a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon specializing in Cosmetic Surgery, here are 5 questions that I think are the most important:

Are you a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon?

Board Certification means that your surgeon has completed the appropriate training and has also passed both written and oral examinations. It also means that your surgeon meets the appropriate ethical and moral standards. Make sure he/she is a Board Certified PLASTIC SURGEON. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a cosmetic surgeon is the same. If a doctor tells you he/she is a Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon, turn and run. This means that they were trained in some other field (maybe even cardiology or radiology) and has taken a course as short as a weekend, and now is allowed to call themself a cosmetic surgeon. I call BS on that. Don’t be fooled. You deserve better.

Where do you operate and do you have admitting and operating privileges at a nearby hospital?

Some surgeons operate at a hospital, an ambulatory surgery center, or out of an office based operating room. If your surgeon operated out of an office based operating room, make sure it is a fully certified facility and meets all the standards set forth by the state. Also make sure that your anesthesiologist is a board certified anesthesiologist who is dedicated soley to you during your case and not working multiple operating rooms at a time.

Even in the safest operating environment, rare complications can occur. In this situation, it is important that your surgeon can get you to a nearby hospital that he/she has admitting privileges at. This means that the can continue to take care of you should you require hospitalization. More importantly, your surgeon should also have operating privileges in the rare event you need to have a surgery at the hospital. If your surgeon is not affiliated with a nearby hospital, then in the rare chance that you need urgent hospitalization, you will likely end up at the nearest hospital and your surgeon is not allowed to be actively involved in the care of you.

How many ____________(the surgery you are interest in) do you perform in a month/year?

There is no magic number as to how many cases a surgeon must perform before they are considered “good” at it. Some people have tossed around the number 100, but I don’t think this is necessarily fair. The point is that you certainly don’t want to be the first (or 20th?) of a particular case. Also, just because your surgeon has done 100 of a particular case, doesn’t tell you whether or not the results were any good. Unfortunately there are plenty of really busy, yet really bad, plastic surgeons. Every plastic surgeon specializes in something. No plastic surgeon does everything. Some may be known as a “face guy” and others may be known as a “body guy”. It doesn’t make sense to have your breast implants put in by a body guy.

Can I speak with some patients?

This question is key. You can learn a lot from speaking with some patients who have had the same, or similar, procedure. The surgeon should be able to give you 3 names of patients who are willing to speak to you. Keep in mind though, that these are clearly going to be “happy” patients. It would be bad form for a surgeon to give you the phone number of a patient who has poor results and will be likely to tell you about their bad experience. But there is some value in speaking with them because they can tell you about the process, the recovery, and give you valuable tips that will be helpful no matter who you select as your surgeon.

What is your revision policy?

Plastic Surgery is an art. As a plastic surgeon I do everything I can possible do to get the best result for my patients. Unfortunately this is not always possible because there are many factors that we cannot control for. Occasionally, revision surgery may be needed. You should find out what the surgeon’s revision policy is. Does he/she charge? If so, what are the fees? Each office should have a policy regarding this. Hopefully it is never an issue for you, but in case it is, you should have the information in advance.

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