10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Picking A Plastic Surgeon

Jager Weatherby on 16 Jul 2014 at 8:50am

Written by Adele Rayburn

Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Plastic SurgeonIn the market for plastic surgery? Going under the knife for the first time can be emotional, exciting, and utterly confusing — especially when it comes to finding the perfect doctor. Your plastic surgeon should be confident, informative, and most of all, a total pro, which means that finding the doc of your dreams can be a tricky business.

The good news? RealSelf has sourced valuable tips from board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Gary Alter, as well as our own expert community members, so you know exactly what questions to ask yourself when shopping around!


1. Is My Doctor Board-Certified?

Rule number one: Find a doctor who's certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Just keep in mind that many doctors are part of boards that seem legitimate but that aren't recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. "The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is not a recognized board by the ABMS," Dr. Alter explains. "There are other boards that are formed that aren't under that umbrella, and they're not under the same kind of vigilance." Establishing that your surgeon's certifications are up to snuff is essential. Just because your dentist offers Botox, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re qualified to administer it.


2. Does My Doctor Have Experience?

It goes without saying that you should find an experienced doctor, but some people are more skilled than others. In fact, nurses can even be more experienced than their supervisors when it comes to routine procedures like Botox! "If the nurse is doing them all day long and is practicing under the doctor's supervision or license, the nurse could be better than the doctor," Dr. Alter says. Of course everyone's experiences are different, which is why researching your doctor is critical. "It's very important to research the person doing your injections," says RealSelf community member misesteelaura. "Having a nurse do mine was my mistake. I'm not saying that there aren't nurses qualified to do Botox. But in my case, she injected too deeply and too low."


3. Do I Only Like My Doctor Because He's Charismatic?

Do I Only Like My Doctor Because He's Charismatic

Everyone wants a good relationship with their doctor, so it helps to find someone fun and personable who's able to put you at ease. But a winning personality isn't everything! "Don't go for the most charismatic doctor," one RealSelfer suggests. "Go for the critical perfectionist who seriously discusses the cons and takes the time to analyze your face and its current imperfections."


4. Have I Checked Out Patient Testimonials on RealSelf?

One of the best ways to find a great doctor is by checking out message boards and reading reviews. "I would ask certain friends who've dealt with surgeons for that particular problem or that particular issue," Dr. Alter advises. "You want to know what their training is, and you want to talk to people that have undergone surgery by that doctor. A lot of the chat rooms are very good for that." ( Pssst, you can begin looking for a doctor here and read relevant reviews per procedure.)


5. Have I Done My Homework?

Have I Done My Homework

You've decided you want Botox, but how much do you actually know about the procedure itself? "Do a bit of research," a RealSelf community member advises. "Don't inject yourself, but look up and read about injection techniques and 'off-label' techniques so you know what your injector is up to and what to ask for. The informed patient is the happy patient!" We feel it’s important to re-emphasize that you should never inject yourself with Botox or fillers. Doing so may result in serious infections, dismemberment, or in some cases, even death.


6. Is My Doctor A Specialist?

Want bigger boobs? Join the club. And while you're at it, find a doctor who specializes in breast augmentation surgery. A specialist is guaranteed to be more familiar with the procedure, and you're guaranteed to get better results. "You've got gynecologists doing plastic surgical procedures, you've got dermatologists doing facelifts,” says Dr. Alter. “You have to make sure you know what the qualifications of your surgeon are. You want to know what their specialty is."


7. Is The Office Spic n' Span?

Is the Office Clean?Finally found a great doctor to perform your nose job? Sounds great... but before you go under the knife, you need to make sure the office is clean, professional, and stocked with up-to-date equipment. "My friend said her anesthesia guy had a blood mark on his scrubs,” revealed RealSelf user Dorenelle. “She was trying to move to make sure she didn't touch it when he got close to her. Shouldn't the doctor say 'Go scrub up?'" Answer: yes!


8. Is This A Trendy Spa Masquerading As A Doctor's Office?

As simple cosmetic procedures like Botox increase in popularity, dubious businesses are popping up all over the place that just want to make a quick buck. Unfortunately, many of the folks working at these joints aren't skilled, and should be avoided at all costs! "There are so many little 'spas' and 'clinics' popping up that are money-driven with limited experience," a community member tells us. "The extra cost is worth the freedom from worry, and the superior results will save you money since you will not be back for 'corrective' procedures."


9. Am I A Guinea Pig?

Your face should not be a canvas for a trainee to practice on. Be wary of any doctors who farm out their smaller procedures to students, and make sure you get exactly what you paid for! "Watch out for anyone who is only in training," Jill Tulepe warns. "Do your homework and only go to an RN or someone under a very reputable plastic surgeon."


10. Am I Letting My Budget Get The Best Of Me?

Am I Letting My Budget Get the Best of Me?

It's tempting to get a quick Botox fix when it's offered at a reduced price, but there might be a reason the procedure is being peddled for less than it's worth. "I had a series of 100 dollar silicone injections 20 years ago, when there were no alternatives like Restylane," a RealSelfer says. "It looked great for 10 years, but now my cheeks are sagging into jowls. The injections seem to have swollen with time. My face feels heavy and looks abnormally large. It was so cheap, but think twice before you do something so permanent! Nobody could have told me at age 20 that this would happen to me. I wish I'd had a crystal ball."


If you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat about your upcoming cosmetic surgery, join RealSelf's community for insider tips, reviews, and expert answers from the country's best plastic surgeons!


Photo credits: Some rights reserved by James Mutter; Some rights reserved by tomek.pl; Some rights reserved by Ed Yourdon; Some rights reserved by Defense Logistics Agency; Courtesy of LivingSocial

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