How to wisely select a facial plastic surgeon

Donn R. Chatham, MD
Article by
Louisville Facial Plastic Surgeon

How does the average person wisely select a good plastic surgeon?

Let’s say you are looking for a plastic surgeon to help you with some issues you have with the appearance of your face. How do you go about finding a doctor who is right for you? To whom do you trust your face?

 

Ideally your doctor would possess these qualities:

1. Experience & Excellent Training

2. Compassion & Empathy

3. Good Judgment

4. Good Surgical Skills

5. Strong Sense of Ethics

6. Pleasant Personality

7. Board Certification in appropriate specialty

 

Here are some guidelines to consider:

1. Research your physician. Does he/she practice in a specialty you normally would associate with facial enhancement or improvement?

2. Is this doctor a surgeon, trained in an appropriate specialty?

3. Is this doctor board certified? By what Board?

4. If a surgeon, does he/she have privileges to operate in an approved surgical facility such as a hospital or accredited surgery center?

5. How long has the doctor been practicing this specialty?

6. When you visit the doctor’s office, are you comfortable with the surroundings and how the staff treats you?

7. When you meet the doctor, are you comfortable with him/her and able to develop a good rapport?

8. Does the doctor take time to really listen to your concerns and clearly answer your questions in plain language?

9. Are your best options explained to you, including the pros & cons of that procedure or surgery?

10. Is this doctor going to be the one treating you or will some of this be relegated to another person? 

 

WHAT IS BOARD CERTIFICATION & how important is it?

“Board Certification” is a process offered by a number of medical specialty organizations in order to evaluate its physician members in terms of their knowledge, experience, judgment, decision-making, and ethics. The goal is ultimately to improve the level of care that the public receives. Certification by a medical board means that a physician has met the standards set by that particular board.

For example, the American Board of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery requires that the surgeon be a graduate of an approved ACGME surgical residency program, possess a valid medical state license, undergo peer review evaluation of his/her surgical experience, achieve satisfactory passing of a rigorous written and oral exam, provide references p by several other reputable surgeons, and possess a high code of ethics.

There are other boards as well such as the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the American Board of Otolaryngology, and others that certify physicians who are trained in surgery of this region. It would seem to be less pertinent if the board certification were in a specialty far removed from the area of expertise you are seeking.

 

Other questions that may be considered:

  • Do you want your non-surgical facial rejuvenation administered by a physician or does it matter to you?
  • Do your want your physician to be very experienced in this surgery or procedure or is a little experience good enough?
  • If you undergo surgery, will the follow-up care be provided by the surgeon or by another person who has been delegated to your future visits?
  • Is your physician generally reachable both before and after you have had treatment in case you quickly need to consult with them?
  • Did you have the opportunity to view representative photographs of prior patients who had a similar procedure or speak with a prior patient who also had this procedure?
  • Were you provided with clearly written educational materials explaining the surgery or procedure of interest? 

These questions are intended to help the average person wisely select a suitable plastic surgeon, especially when there are facial concerns. There are other pertinent questions that can be asked as well.

There is no intention to imply that a particular specialty is the only one appropriate for a given patient. Excellent physicians may be affiliated with a number of different organizations, and educational entities.

It is always important for a prospective patient to spend time in a face-to-face consultation with the physician surgeon, and try to develop a level of comfort, trust and openness with that physician. Sometimes visiting more than one physician is helpful.

Take your time, ask questions and allow yourself to choose a physician you feel is right for you and your situation. The seven qualities listed in the beginning of this article are valued, and you should see as many of them as possible in your physician.