How Often Should a Doctor Perform my Procedure to Be Qualified?

How frequently should a doctor perform my chosen procedure in order to make them a good choice? Every week? Every month?

Doctor Answers 13

Experience in plastic surgery

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This is not an easy question to answer because no amount of experience will make a good surgeon out of someone who is poorly trained and lacks surgical talent and judgement.  A gifted young surgeon with less experience would be better than an older surgeon with less ability.  That being said, I think all doctors on RS who are more than 20 years out from training would agree that they are much better at what they do now than when they first came out of residency training, no matter how well intentioned and enthusiastic they were back then.

In terms of frequency of procedures, I would not be comfortable going to someone who performs an operation less than once a month.  Preferrably, for something common like breast augmentation, I would hope they are doing well over one hundred each year.

Frequency of treatment does not make a good technician

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There are some doctors who are excellent surgeons soon after they graduate their residency or fellowship and with years they gain experience which helps them tackle more difficult cases.  Other doctors, no matter how much experience and how many cases they do, don't become technically as good as their colleagues. Many great surgeons do not need to do a particular procedure frequently to be able to do it well, once they have mastered it. Get referrals from physicians and friends.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Qualifications of a Surgeon

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How frequently a surgeon performs a particular procedure is not as important as the experience of that physician with a particular procedure and the results he/she achieves.It is not reassuring if a surgeon has a lot of inferior results. When considering aesthetic and reconstructive surgery look at a lot of the surgeon's results. 

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

How Often Should a Doctor Perform my Procedure to Be Qualified?

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I have been a plastic and cosmetic surgeon for over 20 years and this is a common concern for potential consumers today.  IMHO, these are the most important factors for anyone considering a treatment or surgery to improve their the order of importance.

  1. There's simply no substitute for the proper aesthetic judgement.  Performing a procedure many times using poor aesthetics will yield poor results.  
  2. Experience is key.  IMO, it takes a minimum of 7-10 years for a good plasic and cosmetic surgeon to gain experience in this field.
  3. Not all surgeons are created equal.  People in all fields vary in training, experience and skill.

You can read my posted article on how to choose your plastic surgeon for more information.

Francis R. Palmer, III, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Experience and the number of surgical procedures

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That is a very good question. Certainily, some procedures such as a rhinoplasty requires the physician to have performed at least several hundered or so in my opinion to have ample experience. Other procedures which are technically easier may not require that volume. Another important question should be his or her complication rate and revision rate as those are often better indicators. I would seek a surgeon who is comfortable correcting a less than ideal result.

Scott Trimas, MD
Jacksonville Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

It depends on the procedure

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How often should one perform a procedure to be proficient?  It depends on the procedure.  Doctors that do Botox perform that procedure far more often than doctors that do rhinoplasties.  Whom ever is doing your procedure should perform it regularly with sucess for you to want to choose that individual.  The level of scrutiny will  undoubtably be higher for a surgical procedure than for an injection.

Daryl K. Hoffman, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

How to choose your injecting physician

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There is no exact answer to how often a physician needs to perform a procedure to excel at what they do. Each patient needs to be thoroughly assessed and have a specific treatment plan developed based on patient desires and a comprehensive aesthetic evaluation. It is as much an art as it is a science. And there is no substitute for experience. Make sure your physician has all of the "tools" to use, such as all of the various facial fillers (Sculptra, Radiesse, Perlane, Restylane, and Juvederm) that are approved for use in the United States. The effectiveness of your treatment depends on your physician’s ability to visualize the desired changes and to select and skillfully administer the best treatments alone or in combination. Since every face is different, the experience and technique of your physician injector is the most critical part to your achieving a beautiful, natural result. Always ask to see before and after pictures of patients they have personally injected. If possible, look for someone who is on the medical education faculty for one of the facial fillers. If they have been selected to train other physicians how to treat the aging face they are likely to be good, experienced injectors.

Mitchell Schwartz, MD
South Burlington Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

How often should the procedure be done

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There is no set number that guarantees results. It starts with training. Board certification and hospitl priveleges for the procedure are good benchmarks but again no guarantee. Generally the surgeon should have an interest in the procedure and perform it or closely related procedures regularly. You should be able to see a wide variety of before and after photos of other patients to get a sense of his/her experience and outcomes and aesthetic. 

Michael L. Schwartz, MD
West Palm Beach Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Choosing a surgeon

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This is impossible to answer because the number will obviously be different for different procedures and different surgeons. Furthermore some procedures require sufficiently similar motor and mental skills that the numbers should be included in the tally. For example if the surgeon does hundreds of breast reductions they are more than capable of doing a few breast lifts.

I think most would agree that if the surgeon has not done a specific procedure that is different from other procedures, like a breast reconstruction or craniofacial surgery, in years it would be better to get a different surgeon.

My response to your question/post does not represent formal medical advice or constitute a doctor patient relationship. You need to consult with i.e. personally see a board certified plastic surgeon in order to receive a formal evaluation and develop a doctor patient relationship.

Aaron Stone, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Age vs experience and talent in plastic surgery

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Just because a surgeon is older or has been in practice longer does not necessarily equate into experience or surgical talent. The plastic surgeon also should be board certified. Ask around. Word of mouth referrals are probably your best source of information.

Donna Rich, MD
Webster Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 33 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.