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Should It Be a Red Flag if my Selected Plastic Surgeon Can't Provide Me with a Reference?

Hello, I plan to have a tummy tuck soon and have met with 3 board certified PSs. The PS I selected was recommended to me by my OBGYN and he is very experienced and I'm very comfortable with him. He told me has performed more than 1500 TTs and has many satisfied patients, so I asked if I could speak with one of them about their results. I requested this information more than a month ago and still have not heard from a former patient (and the doctor is aware of this). Should this be a red flag?

Doctor Answers (7)

Should It Be a Red Flag if my Selected Plastic Surgeon Can't Provide Me with a Reference?

+2

Regarding:  "Should It Be a Red Flag if my Selected Plastic Surgeon Can't Provide Me with a Reference?
Hello, I plan to have a tummy tuck soon and have met with 3 board certified PSs. The PS I selected was recommended to me by my OBGYN and he is very experienced and I'm very comfortable with him. He told me has performed more than 1500 TTs and has many satisfied patients, so I asked if I could speak with one of them about their results. I requested this information more than a month ago and still have not heard from a former patient (and the doctor is aware of this). Should this be a red flag
?

The longer a Plastic surgeon has been practicing the more patients he has interacted with and operated on. To be successful, a plastic surgeon must have many satisfied and vocal patients. It is not enough to be good these days. It is vital for the patients who are happy with you to be very vocal and sing your praises to anyone who would listen. Unfortunately, the vast majority of satisfied and grateful as they may be may not be inclined by disposition or temperament to act as enthusiastically as we may want them to be. This holds especially true in conservative communities as may be found in the Northeast or the deep south where plastic surgery is private and many women would rather not disclose the fact they had Cosmetic surgery, much less talk about it repeatedly. As a result of such privacy conscious, recalcitrant patients many plastic surgeons are NOT as well known as they could be.

On the other hand, all Plastic surgeons with some experience all have great patients who love nothing more than to meet prospective patients and educate them.I would call the Plastic surgeon's office again and remind them you are still waiting. The ball may have been dropped.

Good Luck.

Dr. Peter Aldea


Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Providing references prior to surgery.

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This is not as much of a red flag as it is a sign that there may be difficult for the surgeon's office to accomodate your request. He/she may have performed that many cases and it should be somewhat easy to identify a willing patient. Occasionally, it can be difficult to coerce former patients who have compensated us well for our services to then pick up the phone and contact you. It can be an inconvenience for these patients who do not necessarily feel obligated. Why should they do it? However, their inability to provide you with the requested service may be indicative or predictive of future requests. Contact their office one more time and verify his/her credentials within the community to the best of your abilities. 

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

Patient references

+1

Your surgeon should be able to provide a patient reference to you to go over their experience.  Call back the office.

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

Patient Recommendation Should Be Easy To Get

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If your surgeon has performed that many abdominoplasties, then it should be very easy to get a patient reference or two.  He may be extremely qualified and done thousands, but it is always nice to talk to previous patients about their own results, experience, etc.  And while this is not critical in pickinga surgeon, the fact that his office can not provide you with at least one patient would make me pause a little.

Christopher V. Pelletiere, MD
Barrington Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Red flag or not?

+1

While this is a little surprising, if the doctor has the endorsement of the gyn and has a lot of experience and you felt comfortable with them, I would not let this be a problem.  If it were a rookie surgeon, I would be more suspicious.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Choosing a surgeon

+1

It may or may not be a red flag. Some patients want to maintain privacy about their surgery especially in smaller towns. Most of my tummy tuck patients do not speak with prior patients. They seem to be satisfied with me going over the details of the procedure, my drawing the skin excision pattern on them while they view this in the mirror and their viewing before and after photos with me of different types of abdomens. Did the surgeon at least show you before and after photos of his/her patients?

Aaron Stone, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Comfortable with your surgeon?

+1

I don't think this should be a huge red flag for you. After all, you've met with the surgeon, checked his credentials (I hope he's certified by the American Board of PLASTIC Surgery), and you're comfortable with him and his staff.  I'll bet you've already reviewed his before-and-after photos as well. 

Talking to a prior patient is sometimes helpful, but no two surgical recoveries is exactly the same.  So I don't think it's critical.  However, if it's important to you, just ask your surgeon's office for some additional references.  Usually, my office will contact a prior patient on your behalf, then ask that prior patient to call you or email you (whichever you request).  Once we've made contact with the prior patient, it's out of our hands and up to the prior patient to get in touch with you.  If that doesn't happen, we would certainly try some additional prior patients.  Best wishes!

Carmen Kavali, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 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.