Which Do You Consider More Important, the Surgeon's Qualifications and Prestige or His/her Relationship with the Patient?

There are 2 doctors with whom I'm more interested in having a BA. One is a very well known and respected surgeon. He explained to me the procedure and made his recommendation. However, I felt him a little bit cold towards me. The other one, also has a very good preparation, but without all the prestige and recognition. However I was able to ask him all the questions I wanted to know at the moment. What would you as a surgeon would advice me to look for?

Doctor Answers 18

Assuming equal credentials and training...

I would chose the surgeon you feel you can talk with the easiest. Remember you are really, in effect, selecting the person you will be speaking with if things DON'T go as planned. If things go well, as I hope they will, it won't matter much. If you have a problem and need a sympathetic, empathetic and caring doc you'll be happier with the one you can relate to and who can relate to you.

Munster Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Substance over style if necessary

Hi there-

There is no question that if I had to choose between two surgeons, one with a top-notch education, stellar training, and excellent experience, and one who did not have those things but had a great bedside manner, I would choose the one with the credentials.

Especially in surgical specialties, it is true that we're not all warm and fuzzy... And it's also true that a surgeon doesn't have to be warm and fuzzy to be outstanding at what he/she does.

On the other hand, (the good news is) you shouldn't have to choose between the two!

It is possible to find a surgeon with the education, training, and experience you prefer, a winning personality and outlook, and most importantly, the RESULTS you would like to see on yourself.

This latter point, while not mentioned in your question (and it is often under-appreciated by patients), is critical!

Consider this- you would NEVER buy a dress without trying it on, would you? A car without a test drive? 

Before and after photos are your best chance to see the quality of a surgeon's work. Where the rubber meets the road....

In other words, anyone can make their credentials sound grand (believe me, I've seen even those with mediocre or worse credentials make themselves out to be Da Vinci's of the OR), and many surgeons are friendly- but it's harder (although not impossible) to fake outstanding outcomes over time.

When it comes to surgeons, I would prioritize this way (for myself or a loved one):

1. Education, Training, Experience

2. Outcomes (quality of work)

3. Personality and manner

So spend a lot of time looking at photos. And be sure the photos really represent that surgeon's work (believe it or not, there are surgeons who present others' work as their own), and that the "after" photos were taken after a meaningful period (there are actually surgeons on this site that present "after" photos that were clearly take in the OR during the surgery).

Don't settle... But if you have to, go with education, training, experience, and OUTCOMES every time.

Armando Soto, MD, FACS
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 157 reviews

Which Do You Consider More Important, the Surgeon's Qualifications and Prestige or His/her Relationship with the Patient?

If  I needed a very  rare and complicated brain operation, then I wouldn’t care if the doctor had the personality of a washcloth, if he was the best…But for Breast Augmentation, which we can probably all do in our sleep!!…you should find a well trained Board Certified Surgeon that you feel very comfortable with. It is more important in this operation that you have good communication and that you like their results…

John J. Corey, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

The best surgeon for you will be the one that gives you the result that you desire


Deciding on which plastic surgeon to use can be difficult but it should be made in a methodical fashion.  I recommend that you look at both plastic surgeons before and after photos and that you also look at their web reviews.  If they are both recommending the same or similar plan and are otherwise comparable in reviews and results then you will get a great result regardless of who you choose.  At that point I would go with whomever you feel most comfortable with.

In general, always have 2-3 board certified plastic surgeon consultations.  Look at their before and after photos.  Look at their web reviews.  And make sure that what they are recommending makes sense to you in terms of your goal.

All the best,

Dr Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 162 reviews

Surgeon Reputation vs Relationship with Patient

I assume that you have evaluated the work of the second, less well known surgeon and found his/her work to be comparable with the first surgeon. If you have, and there should be very little difference in the outcome for you, then choose the one you can talk to and who answers all your questions. If he/she will not do this before surgery, there is little chance you will get your questions or concerns answered after surgery. The only time reputation and “qualifications” trump everything else is with very unusual problems where there are only a few surgeons who can handle the problem, and this is now rare.

Robert T. Buchanan, MD
Highlands Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Picking a Physcian for your surgery...

When you have made the decision to have plastic surgery you want to find the best surgeon that fits your personal needs - not always the most prestigious doctor.  It is always best to do some research first.  The doctor that does the procedure should be a board certified plastic surgeon, with the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and I imagine both of the people you are talking about have that qualification.  It is important, in my opinion, to have a surgeon that will spend significant time with you preoperatively - that way, if something happens or you need additional care after the surgery, you know that surgeon will be there for you.  You also need to view a lot of pictures at the consultation to get an idea of his work and if it fits your goals.  Ultimately, there are many plastic surgeons that can perform a great breast augmentation, so if you feel good about the surgeon and he has proper qualifications, then that is usually the best route to go. 

Shain A. Cuber, MD
Edison Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 83 reviews

How to pick a plastic surgeon.

Hi.  I wrote this check list about a year ago.  I hope you find it helpful.

1) Is the surgeon a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery? Members usually do a lot of cosmetic surgery.

2) Did you sense a commitment to excellence in the office. Did the surgeon spend a lot of time with you? Someone who rushes through the consultation may rush through the surgery.

3) Were you treated as an individual? Did the surgeon present you with a surgical plan tailor made for you?

4) Plastic surgeons have to have a good eye and meticulous technique.  Did the surgeon show you A LOT of before and after pictures, and did you love the results?

5) Talk to other doctors you know. Established plastic surgeons have a reputation in the community, good or bad.

6)  Ask to speak to a patient who has had the procedure you want.  You are looking for a surgeon who does a lot of what you want.   Many  patients are eager to share their experience.  Privacy is preserved by having the patient call you.

7)  If you are having breast augmentation, ask if the surgeon has a large inventory of different size and shape breast implants available in the operating room.  A surgeon who does a lot of breast surgery will have an inventory.  This way, the final implant choice does not have to be made in advance.

8)   With office surgery, make sure the surgical facility is ACCREDITED.   Very important safety assurance.

9)   Make sure the anesthesia is given by a BOARD CERTIFIED ANESTHESIOLOGIST.  Another very important safety factor.

10)  Make sure the office has trained nurses available for hands-on post operative care.  This can really speed recovery.

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

On selecting a plastic surgeon

Of all the qualities you listed, factor out prestige because it is often manufactured by media. Qualifications like board certification in the ASPS or ASAPS indicate an important level of training and knowledge. However, in my 37 yrs.of experience the surgeon-patient relationship is also very important in obtaining a satisfactory result.

The surgeon and the patient must gel to form a" theraputic  unity".

Barry H. Dolich, MD (Retired)
Bronx Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

How to select a plastic surgeon

The first and truly important criterion is certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Obviously, if someone went to a class A medical school and trained in a top program, this says something about their intellect, skill level and those from whom he learned. I was extremely privileged in this regard and I don't think that anyone with good credentials doesn't think, during every operation, of what his chairman would have thought if he was watching. Prestige is a very subjective thing. Does that mean paying rent on Park Avenue or Rodeo Drive, or having a fancy office? Rapport is an important thing too. What you want is a plastic surgeon who will be there for you before, during and after the surgery. Consultations are the medical equivalent of a first date. If you are in doubt, go back for a second round of consultations and see if that helps you you to make a decision.

Robert L. Kraft, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Choosing a plastic surgeon - qualifications vs personality vs RESULTS

You have described two of the most important things in choosing a plastic surgeon but have forgotten the most important one - results!   The results from each doctor shown to you in many patients are key to knowing what you might get and in seeing the quality of their work.

You actually should be able to find all three traits in one person but if not, I'd take qualifications and results over personality any day.  But look for all three!!

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 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.