How to Choose a Surgeon

In the process of selecting a plastic surgeon, you may choose to have multiple consultations or receive referrals from friends and family. If you have located a surgeon using Smart Beauty Guide’s Select a Surgeon search tool, then you have already started the process of finding a qualified plastic surgeon. If you get a referral from a friend or doctor, be sure to find out if they have the right qualifications before the consultation.

Here are some helpful links to get you started on your research:


Top Ten Qualities to look for in a Plastic Surgeon

Have confidence when choosing your plastic surgeon. Here are the top ten qualities your aesthetic plastic surgeon should have:

  1. Board Certification
  2. ASAPS Membership
  3. Experience
  4. Facility Accreditation
  5. Hospital Privileges
  6. Reliable References
  7. Thoroughness
  8. Rapport
  9. Follow-up Care
  10. Reasonable Cost
Board Certification
A doctor's board-certification is the best indicator of his or her training in a particular medical or surgical specialty. In the USA, look for certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), the only Board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to certify doctors in the specialty of plastic surgery. In Canada, look for certification by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCSC). International plastic surgeons should be board certified in their country of origin and a member of ISAPS and IPRAS.
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ASAPS Membership
ASAPS membership ensures that in addition to certification by the ABPS or RCSC, a doctor also has significant experience in cosmetic surgery. ASAPS membership is by invitation only. Plastic surgeons who are not citizens of the United States or Canada who meet the high professional and ethical standards required for ASAPS membership may become ASAPS international active members. To ensure that your doctor is a member of ASAPS, search for them with our Select a Surgeon tool.
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Experience
Experienced aesthetic plastic surgeons generally perform a wide range of cosmetic surgeries on a regular basis. Patients should ask about the surgeon’s experience with the particular procedure being considered. If considering a “new” technique or technology, patients should inquire whether results that substantiate safety and effectiveness have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
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Facility Accreditation
Cosmetic surgery can safely be performed in a hospital, a surgicenter or an office-based surgical facility: Current published data show that accredited office-based facilities have a safety record comparable to that of hospital ambulatory surgery settings. However, the majority of office-based surgical facilities are not accredited. Another advantage of selecting an ASAPS member is that all ASAPS surgeons operate in accredited, state-licensed or Medicare-certified facilities.
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Hospital Privileges
Before granting operating privileges, hospital review committees evaluate a surgeon’s training and competency for specific procedures. Wherever the surgery will be performed, be sure that the surgeon has operating privileges in an accredited hospital for the same procedure being considered.
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Reliable References
Asking your primary care doctor for recommendations is a good place to start, and friends may offer suggestions, but the surgeon’s board-certification should always be verified independently by contacting the American Board of Plastic Surgery (www.abplsurg.org). Free referral information to board-certified plastic surgeons with significant experience in cosmetic surgery can be found using the Select a Surgeon tool.
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Thoroughness
The consultation is an important opportunity for questions to be asked and answered. It should include a candid discussion of risks as well as benefits of the surgery. A thorough consultation also involves a review of medical history including any existing medical conditions. All these factors help the surgeon to custom-tailor the operation to best meet the needs of each patient.
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Rapport
Even the most experienced surgeon is not the “right” surgeon for every patient. Any successful relationship depends on good communication. Patient satisfaction is enhanced when surgeon and patient candidly discuss goals, agree on realistic expectations, and plan the course of the surgical journey together.
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Follow-up Care
Good surgical care does not end with the surgery. For most surgeries, plastic surgeons want to see the results and monitor your progress. Nonsurgical procedures usually require a consistent schedule, so you can maintain your results. You should inquire about follow-up visits and about the doctor’s policies should surgical revisions be necessary.
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Reasonable Cost
National averages for surgeons’ fees can be found here. Keep in mind that costs may vary considerably depending on geographic region, surgeon experience and individual patient factors. Not all patients can be treated with the same technique, and the complexity and length of surgery affect cost. Patients should note that cosmetic surgery is not usually covered by insurance.
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