Plastic Surgeon Areas of Expertise?

If a Plastic Surgeon offers several procedures, how do you know which ones they are most proficient at? Would it be the ones they are doing most? Would a large amount of before and after pictures give you a clue by the volume? How can you get real information on the quality of work? Any advice?

Doctor Answers 12

Make sure all your questions are answered and you feel comfortable with the surgeon

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This is a good question. First of all, check on the qualifications of the surgeon. They should be board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Although there are other "boards" they do not carry the same rigorous checking that American Board of Plastic Surgery does.

Next, make sure that the physician has an affiliation with a local hospital and can do the procedure that you want at the hospital. The hospital also checks into their qualifications and usually makes sure that they are skilled to do that procedure.

Then talk honestly with the doctor, most of us only want to do procedures that we do well. I will tell a patient if I do not feel qualified to do what they are asking for. Also, ask them what percentage of their practice is cosmetic in nature. I was trained to do hundreds of proceures, I now only do cosmetic surgery and fell confident that even if I only do a few of a procedure a year, I can give you an excellent result.

A young plastic surgeon first starting out will be at a disadvantage, because they only have a few patients with post op pictures to show you, and an older physician may have many, but the younger doctor may be just as good.

So there is not one answer. Just make sure that you are seeing a real plastic surgeon and not someone who calls themself a cosmetic surgeon.
Also check with your state's agencies to see if there is a profile of the physician, You may find out that the doctor you are seeing is really a gynecologist or an internest who has decided it is time to take a correspondents course and become a cosmetic surgeons.

I hope this helps you out.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Plastic surgeon areas of expertise

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A plastic surgeon who specializes in a particular area will often have interest in the area beyond just performing that procedure.

Often that means he or she will publish papers on the topic in plastic surgery journals, speak at national meetings, etc.

None of these are a substitute, of course, for lots of before and after pictures.

It is also important to relate to the doctor and feel that your needs are being listened to and addressed with a focused plan during the consultation.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Experience, qualifications, photos, and word of mouth all help

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This is a great question and one that many patients ponder. In general, the things to look for are:

  1. Training -- make sure they trained at a fully-accredited plastic surgery program. You would be amazed how many doctors claim to be cosmetic surgeons without any formal training.
  2. Verify their Board Certification Status -- Ask them directly if they are Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. If there is any doubt, you can always find this information out online as well.
  3. Before and After photos can help -- The number of photos is not as important as the quality-- ie, do the before pictures represent something close to what you look like, and do the after photos represent something close to what you wish to look like.
  4. Word of Mouth -- most of us have many patients who would be very happy to speak with a potential patient about their experience. Ask to speak to some former patients and most surgeons will not have any problem with fulfilling this request.

Hope that helps, best of luck!

Dr. S

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 155 reviews

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Plastic Surgeon's area of expertise

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This is a great question. Many excellent plastic surgeons perform superb plastic surgery of the face and body. Some specialize in one area. It generally depends upon their expertise and their love of a particular procedure. Asking about their experience, and viewing many examples of before and after images should give you an idea about the expertise of a plastic surgeon in any given area.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

Plastic Surgery Expertise is a guarantee of success

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In my own practice, approximately 95% of my patients are from patient referrals from previous patients and friends. In truth, this is the best way to choose a plastic surgeon and is far superior to advertisements in choosing a plastic surgeon. For those patients who do not have a referral from a friend, the best way to evaluate a physician is by using your best judgement and your hunch. The quality of a physician's website, office, examination room, staff, credentials, awards, reviews, and overall demeanor are important attributes to a qualified surgeon.

Also, seek the recommendations of your states medical board. Board certification is also an effective means of finding a suitable and well qualified surgeon.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

You cannot ever be completely sure

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If you were referred, then someone was happy with the results. However, it could be hit or miss. If the doctor is board certified in plastic surgery and trained in a good plastic surgery program in the US then at least you know that he/she IS a plastic surgeon.

To find that out, call the board of Plastic surgery located in Chicago. If the doctor is young and just out of his/her training they have 5 years to get their boards so do not be upset if they do not have them yet. Ask the nurses in the hospital where the doctor works about his work.

Sometimes a very smart doctor could not be aesthetically good, and even though the surgery is done well, it does not look good. So the opinion of others is important.

Lastly go with your gut feelings. Pictures mean nothing as they could be another doctors or from a book. You do not know whether it is HIS or HER patient. Good luck.

Helen S. Colen, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon

A good question

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How do you know if a plastic surgeon has expertise in a particular procedure? First of all, be sure they are a real Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Then ask your friends and Gynecologist for recommendations.

Next, visit the doctor and ask specifically if your procedure of interest is performed frequently in their office. Photos are extremely important and there should be a good volume of them including ones that have a starting point somewhat like your own. Ask to speak with a couple of patients.

Finally, do you click with the doctor and trust that he or she will give you the result and care you are hoping to get?

Get referrals and check references

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I believe my colleages have answered this in excellent detail but I would add one additional comment.

Think about how you would go about finding any professional for a different service? I usually rely on referrrals from trusted friends, family, and other professionals.

Clearly I understand that you may be reluctant to discuss this personal surgery with other friends. However, think about discussing this with your family doctor, your gynecologist, your neighbor who happens to be a nurse.

If this is unavailable, I would consider going to the web for blogs or rating sites but I would interpret these with CAUTION. Overly optimistic or pessimistic reviews may not be truthful and are truly difficult to verify the source but it does remain another option.

I would also verify that they are on staff at a local hospital because this requires that their -in-hospital actions be monitored to some degree and does confirm the practioners ability to adhere to local standards.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

How to tell if you have a good Surgeon

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Thanks for the good question! First and foremost, make sure you are considering a board certified plastic surgeon. A member of the Amercian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) demonstrated that he/she has been board certified AND met addtional requirements of experience and ethics in oreder to become a member.

Additonal memberships such as the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) shows the member is in a higher "tier" of plastic surgeons. Only 30% of plastic surgeons are selected into this society.

Experience is the most important factor, to me, in choosing a surgeon. The more procedures a surgeon performs, the more proficient he/she will become with it and better results should be obtained. Ask your surgeon how many of that particular procedure he/she has performed. Ask to see photos of their results,and ask if they are average results, best, or worst! Make sure you see at least ten sets of photos. Ask to speak to patients, ask about their complication rates.

"Word of mouth" is extremely valuable as well. Ask physicians you know and trust who they would refer a family member to if they were to have that procedure. If you know any operating room personnel, ask them about the surgeon.

You can check state medical board information about any actions taken against the surgeon. There are websites that have patients rating surgeons, but take these lightly as there is no way of verifying these people's claims. Anyone can write anything, there is no verfication process.

Training is important, you can see if the surgeon trained at reputable facilities. Fellowship training means the surgeon spent additional time after the formal training to achieve further expertise in a particular field. If your surgeon has additional training in the procedures you are interested in, it should strengthen your decision!

Michael S. Beckenstein, MD
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Some plastic surgeons are technicians and others are true artists

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Not all plastic surgeons are made the same. Some are essentially technicians and others are true artists. Also, not all plastic surgeons have the same level of training. Most procedures build on basic fundamental skills which can be applied to many different areas of the body.

However, if the surgeon does not have a strong hold on the fundamental skills, then they are limited to only that area that they have had the most exposure to performing. So, just because a plastic surgeon advertises many different types of procedures, it does not mean that the surgeon is not good. It may in fact indicate that they are very good.

However, it is important that you talk to former patients, talk to patients in the waiting room, research the surgeon on the internet, and talk to the surgeon. Make sure that you feel very comfortable with the surgeon before undergoing any operation. I hope this is helpful.

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.