Tips on Finding the Best Cosmetic Surgeon for You
Your choice of cosmetic surgeon will be a choice you live with for years, if not your entire life. A successful procedure will make you feel more like yourself and give you greater confidence for years to come. On the other hand, ending up in the hands of an inexperienced surgeon increases your chances of having poor results which leads to additional costs, time, and heartache.
Finding a board certified cosmetic surgeon who has plenty of experience in your procedure of choice is critical to getting the results you desire. Get help vetting doctors you interview by downloading our cosmetic surgeon comparison checklist now, or read on to get the details.
Key Point: Board Certification
Many people think they can depend on state medical boards to ensure that surgeons are qualified to perform the procedures they advertise, but that fact is that the government does not require a surgeon to be specifically trained in the procedures they offer. This problem is most acute in the area of cosmetic surgery, as many doctors with general surgery or other medical training hop on the cosmetic surgery bandwagon in pursuit of greater profits.
Our view is that consumers need a dependable way to know if their surgeon is properly trained and experienced in cosmetic surgery. That’s why we at the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery formed a board exclusively dedicated to cosmetic surgeons’ education, training, and certification.
Things to ask and look for:
- Are you certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery?
- For more on the importance of ABCS board certification, see Board Certification: What it Means and Why it Matters.
Key Point: Experience In the Procedure You Want
You now know the importance of specialization and board certification in cosmetic surgery, but cosmetic surgeons can have subspecialties within this field. This is because each area of cosmetic surgery requires different skills: you can imagine how operating on a nose with bone, cartilage, and breathing passages would be quite different from operating on a breast, which is primarily comprised of soft and glandular tissue.
So to find the right doctor, first you need to choose a board certified cosmetic surgeon. Second, be sure the cosmetic surgeon has plenty of experience in the specific procedure you plan to have.
Key questions to ask your potential cosmetic surgeon:
- How did you train in the procedure I am considering?
- For how long have you been performing this procedure?
- How many times have you performed this type of procedure?
Key Point: Aesthetics
We all know that what one person finds beautiful may be unattractive to another. This is why it is so important to find a cosmetic surgeon that shares your aesthetic sensibility.
For this reason, you can’t just trust a friend’s recommendation of a surgeon, or solely depend on the cosmetic surgeon’s experience. You’ll need to look carefully at the results for each surgeon you interview.
Tips & things to look for:
- At this step in the process of vetting providers, you should compare each doctor’s results for the procedure you want to have, and think about whether those results appeal to you personally.
- Look at yourself carefully in the mirror or take a selfie for reference in finding patients that have similar qualities to you. Do their results look like you want to look after your surgery?
- For facial procedures, look for patients that have a similar facial structure, are around your age, and have some of the same concerns, whether it’s a sagging neck or prominent hump on the nose.
- For breast procedures, look for patients who have a similar torso and breast shape. For instance, if you have narrow shoulders and widely-spaced, small, asymmetrical breasts, patients with those qualities in the before images will give you a better sense of how that surgeon tailors a procedure to patients with your concerns and body type.
- For body procedures, look for patients with a similar shape to you. So if you tend to carry extra weight around your hips, or have a sagging tummy, see how the doctor helped patients like you. Hint: Be open to considering related body procedures, as you may find that a concern you thought could be treated with liposuction is best treated with abdominoplasty.
- How consistent are the surgeon’s results for all patients who’ve had the procedure you are considering?
Key Point: Emotional Connection
You’re going to be spending quite a bit of time with your cosmetic surgeon both before and after surgery. Plus, surgery is a big deal, and there can be curves in the path to your new look. You need to feel very comfortable with your cosmetic surgeon and their support team.
Things to ask yourself:
- Do I like spending time with this surgeon?
- Do I feel like I can trust this surgeon to recommend what’s safe and right for me?
- Would I feel comfortable asking this surgeon any question I might have throughout the process?
- Do I feel comfortable disclosing my full medical history and habits to this surgeon? (This is critically important to your safety!)
Key Point: Safety & the Operating Facility
Your safety during surgery depends in large part on the anesthetist and the operating facility. Accredited operating rooms include key life support systems just in case something goes wrong.
Things to ask and look for:
- Ask your surgeon where they perform surgery, and find out that facility’s level of accreditation. Look for AAAASF, AAAHC or JCAHO operating facility certification.
- Ask about the anesthetist’s qualifications. For safety, you want either a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) or a Board Certified Anesthesiologist administering your anesthesia.
Key Point: Customer Service
Throughout the process of improving your appearance, you want to be sure you are being served and treated well. Some of that will be obvious a few minutes after you walk in the door of cosmetic surgeon’s office. Here are some tips on other things to consider.
Things to ask and look for:
- Is the staff friendly and helpful?
- Do I get helpful materials that fully prepare me for the risks and realities of surgery and recovery?
- Are all fees clearly stated? Is the quote all-inclusive?
- When I contact the practice, do I receive a prompt reply?
Now Download Our Checklist
To make the process of comparing cosmetic surgeons easier, we have put all of these pointers into a checklist you can use as you interview doctors.