Choosing a Plastic Surgeon

Find the right cosmetic surgeon

Given that cosmetic surgery patient satisfaction rates are closely tied to the experience level of the attending surgeon, choosing the best plastic surgeon is enormously important. Not only are you more likely to wind up with a desirable end result, you'll also minimize your risk of adverse post-operative side effects, some of which can be serious.

When trying to find a plastic surgeon, your best bet is to collect referrals from your family doctor. This way, you'll only be directed to certified plastic surgeons while avoiding the questionable qualifications and ethics of fly-by-night clinics and too-good-to-be-true alternatives.

Use a Plastic Surgeon Directory

If you're going to take advantage of the collected resources of a plastic surgeon directory, make sure that the service you use lists only board-certified professionals. Should you ever be in doubt about the credentials of a given doctor, check him or her out with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or your state's own licensing board. Plastic surgeon reports on individual doctors are available through these organizations.

Do not take your plastic surgeon search likely. Cosmetic procedures are considered major surgeries; they alter your appearance permanently, and mistakes can be unsightly, expensive and even deadly.

Questions to Ask a Plastic Surgeon

First, remember that the best plastic surgeon isn't necessarily the most expensive one, though doctors with more experience generally charge a premium. Once you've narrowed down your list of candidates to a few surgeons, arm yourself with a list of questions to get answered, including:

  • How long have you been performing this type of plastic surgery?
  • Are you registered with a state or national licensing bureau? When does your registration expire?
  • Do you have any before-and-after photos of previous surgeries to share?
  • Are you willing to put me in contact with any of your previous patients?
  • Is the clinic where the surgery will be performed certified by Medicare and licensed by the state?
  • Do you provide the postoperative care, or is another doctor assigned to me?
  • How much will the plastic surgery cost, and does your clinic offer any cosmetic surgery financing options?

Generally, the longer a doctor has been performing a given procedure, the more reliable he or she will be; however, this shouldn't dissuade you from considering younger doctors, if you are otherwise comfortable with them. Younger doctors have the benefit of working with more advanced technologies during medical school; older doctors may not be as familiar or skilled with new techniques.

Before finalizing your decision, you should interview several doctors and make notes on the conversation. In the end, your gut instincts will guide you; stick with them, but make sure you are satisfied with the answers to all the questions you asked before you make any kind of commitment.