How to Tell if I Got a Good Plastic Surgeon?

How can you make sure you have found a very good plastic surgeon? I want a Breast reduction and Tummy Tuck but I'm afraid it will end up a disaster. I want to make sure that I've found someone very good because I can only afford to do this once and I couldn't afford to have a botched job fixed.

Doctor Answers (16)

How to select a Plastic Surgeon

+3

When choosing a plastic surgeon it is imperative to select a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Often, plastic surgeons who perform a great deal of aesthetic or cosmetic surgery will also be members of ASAPS. Although many capable aesthetic surgeons are not ASAPS members, searching for a plastic surgeon who is a member of ASAPS is an indication that a surgeon has significant interest in aesthetic plastic surgery.
Selecting a plastic surgeon should always start with board certification but it doesn't end there.

Choosing Your Surgeon
There is endless information about plastic surgery available online, some of it helpful, some of it hogwash. Many patients learn about treatment options and narrow their search for a plastic surgeon with the help of their computer. And then they make one or two or more appointments, and on the basis of these encounters decide on a surgeon. Some patients already have a particular plastic surgeon in mind, based on the recommendation of satisfied patients or the surgeon's reputation.
Regardless of how you decide who you see, ask yourself the following questions after your consultation appointment(s):
Is this surgeon qualified to perform the surgery I am considering?

Do I like this person? Will I enjoy seeing them over the course of my surgery and recovery?

Was my complete medical history taken and examined in detail?

Did this physician truly listen to me as I explained my thoughts about the improvement I am seeking?

Does this physician share my aesthetic sensibility? Do they understand me and are they able to provide exactly what I am looking for?

Was I provided with a thorough understanding of all options available (both surgical and non-surgical)?

Was I shown photographic examples of surgical outcomes that give me confidence?

Was the office staff professional, friendly and accommodating?

Was I pressured in any way to proceed with surgery?

Listen to what your heart and your gut tell you when you are evaluating your consultation experience. Only move forward if you can do so with confidence about the experience you expect to have in a given plastic surgery practice, and about your ultimate outcome as a surgical patient.
Your experience with the consultation process is a good indication of what you are likely to receive as a surgical patient in any practice. If the process is well-organized and enjoyable, the staff is respectful and efficient, and the physician takes adequate time to understand your individual needs and communicates effectively, then you have a very high likelihood of being treated in a similar fashion if you become a surgical patient of that practice. If the process is disorganized or rushed, if the staff is discourteous or unprofessional, or if the physician does not give you confidence that your needs will be met, then don't expect things to get any better once you are a surgical patient.

You must be absolutely certain that your plastic surgeon's aesthetic sensibility matches your aesthetic goals. I have a very particular aesthetic vision, and I do not pretend to be the plastic surgeon for everybody. I strive to produce surgical results that are natural-appearing, results that do not advertise a trip to the operating room. For example, I do not perform breast augmentation for patients that are seeking an overly large and distinctly `done' breast appearance. And I have a particular distaste for cheek implants, as I think they rarely produce natural-appearing cheek contours, and instead prefer to enhance facial volume by means of structural fat grafting. Make sure that your plastic surgeon's philosophy and preferred approaches are consistent with the goals that you have in mind.
Adequate communication is obviously invaluable, and you should be able to communicate clearly and easily not only with your doctor, but also with your doctor's staff. Over the course of preparing for and recovering from aesthetic surgery, your doctor's staff will have an important and active role. Make sure that your interaction with the staff gives you confidence that you will receive the care and attention that you expect, and deserve, postoperatively.


Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Finding a competent plastic surgeon

+2

For breast reduction and tummy tuck, patients should consider board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery first. They should then go to the website and confirm that their physician is indeed board certified in plastic surgery.

Next, they should read the CV, the resume of the doctor. His qualifications will be in this document. His schooling, residencies, publications, university affiliations (i.e. are they a Professor at a major university in addition to being in private practice?).

Next, where is the surgery performed? It should an accredited surgery facility, not just an unaccredited room in the office.

Where is the doctor credentialed to practice? A major hospital or nothing at all? The hospital has their reputation at stake when they take on a doctor, so this is a valuable step.

The Medical Board website of your state should list major problems the doctor has had.

Next, the consultation. The before-after pictures, demeanor of the doctor's staff and your interaction with the surgeon are all important. When you are in the right office, they will know it without doubt.

Last, ask your family doctor if he has heard of the reputation of the surgeon. All doctors have their "referral networks" (even our office)!, and not all good doctors refer to all other good doctors. If asked whether the surgeon has a good reputation, however, you will likely get an honest assessment.

This process takes a little time, but is preferable to searching the world for somebody who can fix the results of a bad surgery. There is no one single source patients can visit for who is and who is not a good doctor.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 96 reviews

How to tell if I got a good plastic surgeon?

+1
Hello! Thank you for your question.  Cost will vary among plastic surgeons as well as with geographic location and what procedures exactly they will be providing to you.  Certainly, researching a board certified plastic surgeon well-versed in the procedure(s) you desire is recommended - checking the American Board of Plastic Surgery is a great start. Consult with two or more surgeons who you are happy with their postoperative photographs and those who you, most importantly, feel comfortable and confident with. Use the opportunity to ask questions as well as visit with staff and investigate the accredited facilities they work out of.  I believe fellowship-training, beyond the core plastic surgery residency to be important, as that surgeon has gone above and beyond to seek additional training specific to that area of interest and chosen to gain additional expertise in that area.   

Experience should not be measured solely by the age of the surgeon or how many years s/he has been in practice.  Checking the education and training is more valuable - a Board Certified MD plastic surgeon who was accepted to and completed an integrated plastic surgery residency, in today's day and age, are excellent choices. Those are the top students who have superior training at top institutes.  Plastic Surgery is NOT a fellowship...it is a residency. Those surgeons who have actually successfully completed additional fellowship training beyond the plastic surgery residency are also passionate about that area and will likely have the most recent, innovative, and up to date techniques. These are usually the younger surgeons, who are still readily willing and competent to continue to strive for the newest material and remain up to date on literature and conferences. 

You must decide for yourself who you are most comfortable with and confident with who will meet your goals and expectations. Cost may differ just on expertise and the aforementioned additional training ad what that additional expertise training has afforded to his/her patients.  Hope that this helps!  Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

How to find the Best Plastic Surgeon

+1

First of all try to find a Great Plastic Surgeon, not just a good one-

 

The following are my screening guidelines and criteria for picking the best plastic/cosmetic surgeon if I as a Plastic Surgeon wanted to select a Plastic Surgeon to operate on a family member. It is one of the most important decision you can make.

7-Step Process for Finding the Best Plastic Surgeon

1. Board Certified Plastic Surgeon by the American Board of Plastic Surgery

The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only certifying board in Plastic Surgery that is a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties. Use these links to look up a prospective surgeon’s status.

To become a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery requires a minimum of five years of surgical training with a minimum of two years of training specifically in plastic surgery. Then the applicant must also pass a comprehensive written board exam. If successful, the candidate must present his/her clinical cases for critical review by board examiners (I was one such board examiner) and if accepted will take a series of oral examinations.

Since the 1990s, the American Board of Plastic Surgery Certification is only valid for ten years. To retain your board certified status, a plastic surgeon must complete a Maintenance of Certification including written testing and case review. This means that all who pass are trained and experienced in all plastic surgery procedures including facial procedures, breast, and body; essentially all cosmetic and reconstructive procedures.

If a Plastic Surgeon is additionally board certified by another surgical specialty recognized the American Board of Medical Specialties, then this also marks additional expertise and training at the highest level. 

Likewise, beware of physicians armed only with certification from other non-ABMS recognized boards or special society memberships other than those I have recommended (eg. “Cosmetic Surgery Board,” “Lipoplasty Society of North America,” etc.).

2. Fellow of the American College of Surgeons: FACS

The American College of Surgeons is dedicated to improving the care of the patient and to safeguarding standards of care in an optimal and ethical practice environment. Members of the American College of Surgeons are referred to as “Fellows.” The letters FACS (Fellow, American College of Surgeons) after a surgeon’s name mean that the surgeon’s education and training, professional qualifications, surgical competence, and ethical conduct have passed a rigorous evaluation, and have been found to be consistent with the high standards established and demanded by the College.

To be a member you have to:

be board certified in a surgical specialty recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties
be in practice in one location for a number of years, with a background check, nomination, and interviews which verify that you are an ethical and safe surgeon among other criteria.
Hint: Look for the “FACS” (or “FRCS,” see below) after the “MD” in a doctor’s title or in his/her Curriculum Vitae to see if he/she is a “real surgeon.”

Note for patients in Canada: The equivalent of FACS in Canada is the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, FRCS.

3. Member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of plastic surgeons in the United States and one of the largest in the world. ASPS members are uniquely qualified because of the society’s membership requirements:

Members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons must be Board Certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery complete at least 5 years of surgical training with a minimum of 2 years of training specifically in plastic surgery. The more years of Plastic Surgical Training the better – this includes fellowships in a plastic surgical field.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons members are required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and must fulfill rigorous Continuing Medical Education (CME) requirements including patient safety issues.
Lastly, ASPS members are required to operate at accredited surgical facilities certified by one of the following USA organizations: American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgical Facilities, Inc., Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, Inc., or the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations.
Beware of physicians without this membership but belonging only to similar-sounding societies as their claim to excellence eg. “American Society of Cosmetic Surgery,” “Lipoplasty Society of North America,” etc.

4. Member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)

This is the most elite society in the United States and perhaps the world for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. To be a member means that your career is focused in cosmetic surgery at the highest level. Among the requirements for invitation and election to ASAPS membership, a plastic surgeon must:

Be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (or in plastic surgery by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada);
Be in at least the third year of active practice following board certification;
Participate in accredited Continuing Medical Education (CME) to stay current with developments in the field of cosmetic plastic surgery and patient safety;
Document the performance of a significant number and variety of cosmetic surgical cases to demonstrate wide experience;
Be sponsored by two ASAPS-member plastic surgeons to help ensure that the applicant’s professional reputation meets the high standards required by ASAPS;
Adhere to current ethical standards for professional conduct as outlined in the Code of Ethics observed by all ASAPS-member surgeons;
Operate in accredited surgical facilities; and
Be elected by at least 80% of the Active Membership.
Find an ASPS member online.

5. Hospital privileges to perform the same type of surgery

Hospitals often examine qualifications of doctors applying for hospital staff privileges and restrict privileges to only surgeons best trained and qualified to do certain procedures. For example, in order for surgeons to be granted plastic surgery privileges in most hospitals in Orange County, California, that surgeon must have completed plastic surgery residency training and must be board-eligible or -certified in plastic surgery to be allowed to perform plastic surgical operations in that hospital.

Non-surgeons and other physicians that are not plastic surgeons circumvent this process by performing surgery in their offices or in outpatient surgery centers where the credentialing process is less rigorous or nonexistent. In these settings non-plastic surgeons perform procedures in which they have no formal residency training.

I am not warning against use of outpatient surgery centers or in-office procedures. I am only recommending that you check that your physician has hospital privileges for these same procedures.

6. Surgical Experience in the procedure you are having

Few patients ask how long doctors have been doing a certain procedure or how many they have performed. When you consult with a plastic surgeon:

Ask to see typical “before and after” photos;
discuss the details of the procedure in a manner that is clear to you;
review benefits and potential complications;
get full answers to your questions.
7. Evidence of Excellence, Experience and Commitment to the field of Plastic Surgery

Here are some additional criteria to look for in your plastic surgeon.

Surgical Board Certification in more than one field
Plastic Surgical Fellowships in addition to Plastic Surgical Residency.
Number of years practicing.
Peer Review Honors in their own board certification from groups such as Best Doctors, Top Doctors, Super Doctors.
Current or Prior position denoting excellence in the field or high regard by their peers such as:
Prior or present Professor or Faculty affiliation with a University Plastic surgical program (the higher the rank the better)
Chairman of a Department of plastic surgery at a regional hospital
Honors from surgical societies of which they are members such as Board Examiner, etc.
Published Plastic Surgical papers in peer review journals are also a good sign that they are committed to being on top of their field.
Feel Comfortable with your choice

It is very important that after you have done this screening and met with your potential surgeon that you feel confident in your choice.

Complications are not common in cosmetic surgery, but if one did occur are you confident that this surgeon would take charge and handle just about any problem?

Do you feel that he listens to you and communicates well by answering your questions completely, doesn’t rush you in to a decision but rather makes you part of the decision-making process? You should truly feel that it is a combined effort.

Does the surgeon’s office run smoothly? Do the staff take good care of you? If you answered in the affirmative and have gotten this far in your screening guidelines then I think you have found your “Dr. Right.”

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Make sure of a good plastic surgeon

+1

There are several things that you can do to make sure you have chosen the right surgeon. Check board certification. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the doctor and the staff. Look at pre and post op photos. Talk to friends or patients to see if they were happy.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Making sure you have a very good Plastic Surgeon

+1

Your questions is good and common - no one wants a lemon in a car, spouse or a professional. The best way to decrease the risk of a poor choice is information, education and introspection.

Basics:

1. See several Plastic surgeons. You will learn more and have more to compare.

2. For each compare their education (College, Medical School, Surgery, Plastic surgery training- better schools and programs are much harder to get in and suggest academic excellence) their certifications (MUST be certified by The American board of Plastic Surgery - MUST be members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (check www.PlasticSurgery.org).- This certification assures you the surgeon passed the highest qualifications mandated by THE Plastic Surgery professional board).

There are a lot of "plastic" surgeons out there who never trained in Plastic Surgery, are not board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and are not members of the ASPS. (ANY DOCTOR WHO WANTS TO CAN LEGALLY PRACTICE PLASTIC SURGERY)

3. Go in to your consultation AFTER reading up on the topic and ask as many questions as you can. You must FULLY understand your options. Watch your surgeon as he/she answers them. Are they complete? Is he/she making an effort to educate you?

Subjective
1. Is the Plastic surgeon friendly?
2. Does he appear knowledgeable?
3. is his/her office staff friendly and eager to work with you?

introspective - YOUR factors
1. Are YOU sure you want to do this?
2. Are you psychologically ready? The few days before and after surgery are stressful.

As regards : "I'm afraid it will end up a disaster. ...I couldn't afford to have a botched job ...". Complications happen in the best of hands, despite our best intentions and are not preventable. While working with a non board certified (non ASPS member www.PlasticSurgery.org) may raise the likelihood of a poor result, you could have one or several complications despite picking a good surgeon. If you cannot afford the financial and psychological cost of surgical complications, you should not have any surgery for which you will be responsible. They are unfortunately NOT predictable.

There are no guarantees in life. You know that. The best you could do is make the best educated choices and move on.

Dr. P. Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Picking a breast reduction surgeon.

+1

Hi.

I wrote an article for RealSelf with tips for picking a plastic surgeon (for breast reduction or any cosmetic procedure).  You can look at it on my profile. Hope it is helpful.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

You can find a surgeon right for you.

+1

Choosing a plastic surgeon can seem like a very difficult process, however the selection starts right after the first impression. Before you schedule any appointment you should make sure the surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. It is also helpful to view the practice website to help you understand the flavor and texture of the office you wish to visit. also you will be able to confirm that your surgeon is affiliated with a highly rated hospital in the area.

You may begin to understand the practice philosophy right after you enter the office. The environment should be comfortable, the staff polite and attentive, and the physician should be interested in you as an individual, spend time to fully understand your concerns, and make recommendations that are clearly explained and make sense to you. You should know during your visit if the surgeon and staff is interested in caring for you, or whether you are just another customer in their practice.

The relationship between you and the surgeon and practice is an important one. Look for a practice that will stand with you and support you through any anticipated procedure. You will know it when you see it. If not, keep looking.

Best of luck,

peterejohnsonmd

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Do your homework bit be prepared; complications occur even in the best of hands

+1

You have a couple of different issues here:

  1. Finding a good plastic surgeon
  2. Wanting a perfect result the first time around.

While the first is an important decision and one that has been answered, the second reveals aspects of your situation which may not make you a suitable candidate for surgery,

Generally, no one (paitent or surgeon) goes into surgery thinking that they want to do a "botched job" as you put it. We are professionals that have taken alot of time in our training to get where we are as board certified plastic surgeons. We count on delivering a result that makes the patient happy and encourages them to spread the word to friends and family. That is how we best succeed.

Complications, even in the best of hands occur. If you are not prepared to manage this, you may want to reconsider the operation. No one plans on getting into a car accident but that is why we buy car insurance.

The truth is one measure of "a very good plastic surgeon" is one that can manage an unforeseen complication.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

A most difficult question

+1

Nothing is guaranteed. A good result from a fantastic surgeon is not guaranteed. One important thing is to trust a doctor with knowledge of that doctor, not just blind trust. A good place to start is with your internist or gynecologist. They are not going to ruintheir reputation by referring to "bad" surgeons. Gynecologist also have a good feel because all women have gyncologists and all problems fromcosmetic surgery are eventually seen by gynecologist. I believe that one important thing about a surgeon is whether he or she has the experience, no-how, and personality to get you out of trouble if you are in trouble. Does the surgeon really listen to you? Does he discuss things so you can understand? Does he have the patience and personality to deal with "problems?" A doctor who gets exasperated with your questions or rushes around without listening to you, probably will not deal with individual problems well.

Finding a good surgeon is like finding a good spouse.There is not magic formula. But things are easy when everyone is healthy and happy, the kids are doing well, there's money in the bank and work is wonderful. The question is, how do things and relationships and trust hold up when things go bad.

On a more practical note, I would ask to speak with patients about their experience. Photos can be deceptive. A good post-op photo can still have an unhappy patient. The goal of surgery is not to do a procedure well but to get you what you want.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.