What Are the Most Important Criteria when Picking a Plastic Surgeon for a Tummy Tuck?

I am a 41 year old whose stomach has begun to sag, from weightloss originally but it has only gotten worse after childbirth. I'm researching specialists in the area to consult about a tummy tuck and although I have quite a list of questions, I'm wondering what questions professionals recommend or what criteria other than American Board Certification in plastic surgery should I be concerned about when interviewing a surgeon for the first time?

Doctor Answers 19

Selecting a plastic surgeon

There are many considerations when selecting a plastic surgeon. The attached video might provide some help as you start the selection process. Also, look at lots and lots of photos to be certain your plastic surgeon is capable of providing the result you are hoping to achieve. 

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 120 reviews

What are the most important criteria when picking a plastic surgeon for a tummy tuck?

Hello! Thank you for your question.  Cost will vary among plastic surgeons as well as with geographic location and what procedures exactly they will be providing to you.  Certainly, researching a board certified plastic surgeon well-versed in the procedure(s) you desire is recommended - checking the American Board of Plastic Surgery is a great start. Consult with two or more surgeons who you are happy with their postoperative photographs and those who you, most importantly, feel comfortable and confident with. Use the opportunity to ask questions as well as visit with staff and investigate the accredited facilities they work out of.  I believe fellowship-training, beyond the core plastic surgery residency to be important, as that surgeon has gone above and beyond to seek additional training specific to that area of interest and chosen to gain additional expertise in that area.   

Experience should not be measured solely by the age of the surgeon or how many years s/he has been in practice.  Checking the education and training is more valuable - a Board Certified MD plastic surgeon who was accepted to and completed an integrated plastic surgery residency, in today's day and age, are excellent choices. Those are the top students who have superior training at top institutes.  Plastic Surgery is NOT a fellowship...it is a residency. Those surgeons who have actually successfully completed additional fellowship training beyond the plastic surgery residency are also passionate about that area and will likely have the most recent, innovative, and up to date techniques. These are usually the younger surgeons, who are still readily willing and competent to continue to strive for the newest material and remain up to date on literature and conferences. 

You must decide for yourself who you are most comfortable with and confident with who will meet your goals and expectations. Cost may differ just on expertise and the aforementioned additional training ad what that additional expertise training has afforded to his/her patients.  Hope that this helps!  Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Choosing a Plastic Surgeon?

Thank you for the question.

I would suggest starting with the American Society of Plastic Surgery and/or  The  Aesthetic Society of Plastic Surgeons to obtain a list of well experienced board-certified plastic surgeons.

Then, I would suggest you visit a few surgeons whose practices  concentrate on aesthetic surgery. Ask  to see lots of examples of their work and preferably speak/see patients who have had similar procedures done.

You will find,  while doing your due diligence,  that there are many different “specialties” who will offer their services to you;  again, I strongly recommend you concentrate on surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

A few additional words of advice may be helpful:

1. Make sure you are doing the procedure for the right reasons (for yourself)  and that you have realistic expectations.  Be aware that an improvement in the “problem area” may not translate to an overall improvement in your life   situation.  You are bound to be disappointed with results of the procedure if your motivation for doing the surgery is not internally driven.

2. Time your surgery carefully; generally, it is not a good idea to have surgery done during or immediately after a stressful period in life (for example divorce or death of a loved one). The additional stress of surgery will undoubtedly be  more challenging to deal with if a patient's emotional reserves our already exhausted. Remember, that an improvement in your physical appearance will not translate to an improvement in your life situation.

3. If possible speak to patients who have undergone similar procedures and query them about the toughest times of their recovery period. Any practical hints previous patients can provide may be very helpful.

4. Make sure you are aware of potential complications that may arise how to reach your surgeon if necessary.

5. Make sure you have a strong and patient support system (several people if possible) in place who have time/patience to take care of you. Arrange for professional nursing if any doubt exists regarding the availability and/or stamina  of your caretakers.

6. Be patient with the healing process, understanding that it will take several weeks to months to feel “normal” again. It may also take many months/year to see the end results of your surgery.

7. Be prepared to distract your mind with things of interest such as books, magazines, and movies.

8. Expect less of yourself; do not go back to work, school or chores too early and let others take care of you (for a change).

9. Pick your surgeon carefully (a well experienced board-certified plastic surgeon) and trust in his/her advice. Keep in close communication with your surgeon and do not hesitate to communicate questions/concerns and the   emotional swings that you may experience.

10. Resume all medications that you were using preoperatively when cleared by your plastic surgeon and stop the use of narcotics and sedatives as soon as feasible after surgery.

11. Keep in mind the end results as you go through the tougher emotional times after your surgery.

I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,499 reviews

Criteria for choosing a Plastic Surgeon

Another resource would be the American Society of Plastic Surgery. ASPS ensures their members have the highest standard of training, ethics, and research in plastic surgery. They also have information on their web-site regarding questions to ask at your consultation.

George John Alexander, MD, FACS
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Safety is number one factor

Make sure that you choose a board-certified plastic surgeon by the American Board of Plastic Surgery who is experienced and will perform the tummy tuck in an accredited facility with good monitoring of your anesthesia. to check certification, go to abms.org. I hope this helps.

J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 183 reviews

Selecting a plastic surgeon to perform your tummy tuck

At minimum, when selecting a plastic surgeon to perform your tummy tuck, it is imperative (in your best interest) to make sure that they are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. There are many other issues to consider after that such as years in practice, reputation, results (such as photos and patients), how comfortable that you feel with them and he/she relates to you during your consultation, office staff, responsiveness, etc. 

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

How To Choose A Plastic Surgeon For A Tummy Tuck

Choosing a plastic surgeon for a tummy tuck is similar to choosing a surgeon for other plastic surgery procedures. First and foremost is board certification by The American Board of Plastic Surgery. I would also recommend that your surgeon participate in and complete the Maintenance of Certification program and get re-certified every 10 years. This ensures that your surgeon is doing everything he/she can to maintain their knowledge and expertise. I think you should consult with at least two surgeons and ask for patient referrals and to see photographs of patients that your surgeon has operated on. Other questions about surgery location, anesthesia and follow ups are also important. Finally and very importantly, make sure you get along with and like your surgeon. This is a very personal and important decision you are making and you will be spending a good amount of time with the surgeon that is caring for you. Good luck.

Douglas L. Gervais, MD
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 176 reviews

What Are the Most Important Criteria when Picking a Plastic Surgeon for a Tummy Tuck?

Being board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, member of ASPS, having surgical privileges to do the same operation in a hospital. Are the primary qualifications needed. Others are more personal. 

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 174 reviews

Choosing a Plastic Surgeon

Ask for a recommendation from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons for several board certified plastic surgeons in your area.  Also, ask your OB-GYN and any friends who have had plastic surgery procedures.  Once you have a few names, schedule consultations with two or three surgeons. Ask to see before and after photographs, where they perform the surgery, who is the anesthesiologist, will the surgeon be available for post-operative care?  Make sure the center where the surgery is performed is accredited.

And most importantly make sure the surgeon understands what you want and expect from the tummy tuck procedure.

Rondi Kathleen Walker, MD
Washington Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

It comes down to SAFETY and EXCELLENT RESULTS!

When choosing a Plastic Surgeon........

The main questions to ask in my opinion are about the risks and how often these things happen in their practice?
How often does that surgeon do revisions of their own work? 
What are his/her policies regarding fees if revisions are necessary? 
You need to know where the surgery is going to be done? 
Who will be doing your anesthesia?
Will there be an anesthesiologist on the premises if someone else is doing your anesthesia?
Once you have qualified them as a safe surgeon, I would recommend requesting to see before and after photos of their patients (one or two is not enough) and ask to speak with some of their patients to get a patients perspective of their experience with this surgeon. 
I believe it comes down to SAFETY and EXCELLENT RESULTS.  If you aren't comfortable with either of these then keep looking.

Daniel P. Markmann, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 114 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.