What Is The Magic Trick to Identify an Experienced/Skilled Breast Augmentation Surgeon?

I have read many advices on how to choose your BA surgeon but I still need help on how to analyze the answers I will get from a consultation. For example: 1. Where did you get trained for BA surgery? I will get a place. How do I know if that place is a good/bad/average/formal training place? 2. How long have you been performing BA surgery? I will get x number of years. How many years are considered long enough? 3. How often you perform a BA surgery? I will x times per y. How often is often?

Doctor Answers 12

How to choose a breast augmentation surgeon.

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You are asking the right questions, but you need more detail, and have wisely come to understand that "pat answers" don't necessarily convey what you really need to know. Here's my list of must-haves:

   1)  Board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery is a must. However, many ABPS-certified plastic surgeons have a broad practice in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, and may not do as much cosmetic surgery as some of their colleagues.

   2)  Membership in ASAPS (American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Inc.) indicates the member plastic surgeon (only ABPS-certified plastic surgeons can be members) is "actively involved in the practice of plastic surgery and must devote a significant part of their professional effort to aesthetic surgery." [from the bylaws of ASAPS]

   3)  An accredited facility. If your surgeon operates in an office-based surgical center, it should be accredited by AAAASF or JCAHO. Some (non plastic surgeon) doctors avoid credentials committees and peer review by operating out of an office exam room; ABPS-certified plastic surgeons who operate in their own facility MUST have AAAASF or JCAHO accreditation as a requirement for continued membership.

   4)  Should perform at least 100 breast augmentations per year. (ask the staff, the surgicenter charge nurse, the anesthesia provider, as well as the doctor). This will help to ferret out those who are prone to "case-inflation." Fewer doesn't mean the doctor is unskilled, but numbers do give a certain amount of experience that dovetails nicely with surgical talent. The surgeon with at least 10 or 15 years experience may have a more seasoned perspective than our more junior colleagues. More is usually better here, (at least until the surgeon is old and shaky!)

   5)  Plenty of before and after photos. Ask which surgeon did which case. Every woman is different; your surgeon should be able to show how he or she analyzes and approaches particular anatomic individualities.

   6)  A written or stated philosophy of how to minimize the most common "downsides" of breast augmentation--namely: sizing, profile choice, avoidance of capsular contracture, activities and restrictions, re-do and revision policy (who pays for what), re-operation rates (again, ask the nurses and staff as well as the doctor), anesthesia type and provider, and follow-up visits and policies. Will you be seeing the surgeon or one of his nurses? If your anesthesia is provided by an MD anesthesiologist, will he or she be present in the OR for the entire case? (HINT: for young, healthy patients they rarely are; the CRNA is the true provider.) How are emergencies dealt with? How many have occurred? Infection rate? Deaths?

   6)  And finally, do you get a good feeling about your surgeon? Is he or she forthright, confident without being cocky, honest and humble about potential problems and how to deal with them, and how do the staff-doctor-patient interactions feel? Are people genuinely happy to be caring for you? After all, you are their reason for being there, not to mention their paycheck!

If your chosen surgeon has an assessment and surgical plan that makes sense, you can intuitively sense what is correct, but also beware of "conventional wisdom" or urban legend types of "information." There is a reason we constantly tell questioners here on RealSelf to check a doctor's board certification (WHAT board?) since there are "real" boards that have nothing to do with plastic surgery, as well as a host of "bogus boards" that seek to legitimize doctors with little or no surgical training who wish to perform cosmetic operations.

But once you finally have the "real" plastic surgeons, then the rest of the information above is helpful. For a detailed set of facts about breast augmentation, click on the link below, or contact me for the entire 23-page article I wrote about breast augmentation in my practice. Thanks for asking!

Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

How to choose a breast augmentation surgeon

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Make certain that your surgeon is board certified in plastic surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Ask your OBGYN or PCP for recommendations- they see plenty of results!   Schedule a consultation with a few different surgeons until you find the one you are completely comfortable with. Ask the surgeon how many augmentations she performs in a year. You want someone who has experience and performs breast augmentations daily, not monthly.  The choice to have plastic surgery is an extremely personal one- please take your time in finding the best surgeon for you.

Christine Sullivan, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Choosing a breast augmentation surgeon

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There are many things to consider here and in the end you will need to use your gut instinct to make the final choice because there will be no absolutely right answer on paper.  First, insist on a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, not a "cosmetic surgeon" as these are not real plastic surgeons, just posing as ones without the real formal training.  Second, insist that they do at least 100 augmentations per year as any truly busy breast augmentation surgeon will do that and this speaks to their experience and the quality of their work because they would not be busy if they weren't any good.  Third, make sure that you meet with the doctor, not just the nurse for an extensive review of exactly what you want and make sure they "hear" you and can honestly tell you if your expectations are reasonable or not based on the body you have.  Fourth, look at LOTS of their photos to be sure the kind of results they have are like what you are hoping to get.  Finally, be sure you have a great raport with the doctor and the staff as it is this relationship that will help you through the whole process.

Choosing your Surgeon?

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Choosing your Surgeon?

I think you have touched on the “main things to go by in picking the right plastic surgeon”.  At this point your choice should be made by asking yourself the question:  which surgeon  do you feel can  deliver the results you are looking for?

Some general words of advice for patients just starting the process of selecting a plastic surgeon....

Anyone considering plastic or reconstructive surgery should consider consulting a board certified plastic surgeon to achieve the best and safest results possible. Physicians who are considered board certified hold a certification with the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). This certification proves that the surgeon has graduated from an accredited medical school, has completed a residency of at least five years, has three years of experience in general surgery, is actively practicing plastic surgery for at least two years, and has passed mandatory comprehensive and written examinations. These surgeons are referred to as diplomats of the ABPS and have fulfilled the following requirements.
It is in the patient’s best interest to choose a board certified plastic surgeon. It is vital to your safety and the success of your cosmetic surgery that the surgeon you choose has the right qualifications, ample experience, and documented results of his or her work. ABPS diplomats have extensive skill and experience in a wide range of plastic surgery procedures.
There are a number of advantages in choosing a qualified and highly experienced plastic surgeon to perform your cosmetic surgery. If there are any complications during surgery, an experienced plastic surgeon will be more adept at handling the situation. In addition, a plastic surgeon that has performed many cosmetic surgeries will have had more time to perfect his or her technique and results.

Reputable plastic surgeons should have privileges to perform cosmetic surgery procedures in the operating room at an accredited hospital, not just in the surgery center in their office. They work with a highly skilled team including, board certified anesthesiologists, nurses, and technicians to enhance patient comfort and to provide a peace of mind to the patient’s and their families.
During your consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon, ask to see before and after photos of actual patients who have undergone cosmetic surgery. The surgeon may provide you with a list of patients you may speak to as a reference for the doctor. To enhance your education regarding the surgeon, you may be introduced to some post-op patients as well during your visit with the surgeon. Most patients are willing to share their experience regarding their surgeon, the staff, hospital, and recovery.
Professional doctors will ensure realistic expectations and take the time to address your concerns. They will provide you with honest advice and encourage you to do your homework, talk to other patients, and make an informed choice. One of the most important factors in choosing a plastic surgeon is your personal comfort level with the doctor. You should feel comfortable asking questions about your cosmetic surgery procedure so that you can make an educated final decision on whether you would like to proceed with surgery.

I hope this helps.

Tips on choosing a breast augmentation surgeon

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Choosing the right surgeon can be confusing and difficult.  Here are a few tips to help you pick the best surgeon for you.

  • Make sure the surgeon is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Any surgeon that is certified by the ABPS has had rigorous training and demonstrated that he or she meets the best standards for surgical care
  • Make sure the surgeon performs this surgery frequently - several a  week as opposed to a few a month
  • Ask to see before and after photos of that surgeon's work
  • Ask of you can talk to some of the surgeon's patients
  • Get referrals from your friends
  • Get referrals from your medical doctor, ask them who is reputable in your community
  • Meet with the doctor. Make sure you can communicate well with him or her about you expectations.  Does he or she take time to listen and explain the surgery with you.

I hope the above are helpful for you.  Good luck in your search.

James H. Schmidt, MD (retired)
Sarasota Plastic Surgeon

There are no magic tricks to find a good plastic surgeon- it is matter of gut feeling!

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Stop looking for any magic tricks to find a plastic surgeon.  If you really are ready for surgery, you will find the surgeon that is made for you, by your instincts.

Just meet with 1-3 Plastic Surgeons who are certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery.  However, if the 'first one' meets your gut instinct criteria, don't  waste time on others.

 Multiple consultations will just confuse you.

 Every trained surgeon knows what to do.

Vasdev Rai, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

A referral from a friend who has had the surgery is best

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I think that a referral from a friend or relative who has had the surgery you are contemplating is a good start.  If you personally know someone who has had the surgery and was happy with the results and with the plastic surgeon who performed the surgery, you should have confidence that that surgeon can perform that surgery with good results.  I would also recommend that you see someone who is board certified in plastic surgery to perform your breast augmentation surgery.  

James Tang, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
3.4 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

How do I pick a surgeon for breast augmentation

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There is a lot of good information and advice on these posts that I would echo - find a board-certified plastic surgeon (ask :  Which Board??  you are looking for the American Board of Plastic Surgery), someone who does breast surgery regularly (not someone who only does breast augmentation), a surgeon that listens to you and answers all of your questions, an accredited operating facility.... but I think it is also important to listen to your instinct - do you feel that the surgeon will be there for you if you happen to have any issues postoperatively?  Do you get a good feeling from the staff - are the nurses experienced?  Did your appointment run smoothly or if not, was the staff supportive?  While this may seem unimportant, your surgical care needs experienced teamwork.  Also, friends and family referrals can be invaluable once you narrow down the qualified surgeons.

Choosing a surgeon for breast augmentation

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Cosmetic surgery has become a wide open field with many individuals with a varying degree of experience and training claiming to be the best. The simplest advice is selecting a surgeon  is to insist on board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Next, review several surgeons websites to preview each practice, practice philosophy, and posted results. The final choice is likely to come after two or more consultations which will allow you a chance to compare and determine which practice and surgeon is the best fit for you.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

I don't think that there is a magic trick

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As with anything else you are shopping for you need to do your homework.  Ask questions like, is the surgeon board certified in plastic surgery, look for pre and post op photos of the surgeons work, how many breast augmentations have they done.  See several surgeon and see with which one you are the most comfortable.

Do you like the office staff, you will be dealing with them both pre and post op. Ask nurses in your community who they would reccommend as well as aking your personal physician.

Follow these guidelines and you will most likely find someone who will do a good job for you.

Good Luck,

Dr T


Scott Tucker, MD
Winston Salem Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 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.