Choosing a plastic surgeon is a highly personal decision—and one that’s not to be taken lightly. In addition to the obvious vetting of credentials, there are many other elements to take into consideration. To help those who may be seeking a professional in this particular area of expertise, we spoke with four plastic surgeons across the country about what to look for, and how to select a surgeon who is perfectly suited to your needs. Here is their expert advice.
Seek out personal referrals. While there are many reviews to be found online, Dr. Christian Jacob of Hedgewood Plastic Surgery in New Orleans, Louisiana, warns against this practice. “Word-of-mouth personal referrals are much more powerful than any internet searches or advertising,” he says. “The internet and social media can be very misleading and manipulated easily.” Dr. Babar Sultan of Sultan Facial and Plastic Reconstructive Surgery in Towson, Maryland, agrees. He recommends seeking out a recommendation from relatives and friends who have been to the surgeon. Additionally, it is a good idea to ask the doctors who you visit regularly if they have heard of the doctors on your list.
Verify each surgeon’s credentials. Before even making an appointment, there’s some important due diligence that can be done on your part. Dr. Jaimie DeRosa of the DeRosa Clinic in Palm Beach, Florida, says ensuring your surgeon has the correct training and certifications is key. She points out that anyone with a medical license can technically perform any procedures if they have their own office. Dr. Joyce Aycock of Joyce Aycock MD in Denver, Colorado, explains that plastic surgeons should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Furthermore, facial plastic surgeons should be certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology with additional fellowship training in facial plastic surgery. Oculoplastic surgeons should be certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology with additional fellowship training in oculoplastic surgery. “Board certification in ‘cosmetic surgery’ is a red flag, as this is not a regulated field of training,” Aycock says.
Check their specializations. Nowadays, the best plastic surgeons have their practice specialized in various specific areas, such as the face, breast, body contouring, and reconstruction. Sultan recommends seeking out surgeons whose specialization lines up with your goals. As recommended above, Jacob points out that you want to see board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists.
Ensure your aesthetics are in alignment. After you’ve curated your list based on credentials, assess each plastic surgeon’s “after” photos. DeRosa explains that you’re looking for photos that are similar to your goals. When reviewing before and after images, Sultan advises that you make sure they are in the same lighting and angle. For those seeking more natural results, look for a plastic surgeon who creates a ‘natural look’ from plastic surgery. Upon meeting with surgeons, it’s helpful to review imaging or reference photos so you can be sure that what you and the surgeon are saying match up with what you visually desire.
Make sure you have a good rapport. You should feel at ease and be comfortable having a two-way conversation with your surgeon so you can discuss your goals for plastic surgery and any concerns you may have, DeRosa explains. “If you can’t communicate well with your surgeon, you may end up getting what they think looks best instead of what you actually wanted,” Aycock shares. “I can’t tell you how many patients I’ve met who’ve had technically successful procedures but are unhappy because they ended up with something they were not expecting.” Make sure that you like your surgeon and they like you. If you don’t feel a good connection, make some other appointments.
Address your expectations from the start. Although no one wants to hear “No,” it’s important that your surgeon is honest with you about what can and can not—or should not—be done. “A good plastic surgeon will give you an honest assessment of what he or she thinks is possible based on your specific anatomy and concerns,” DeRosa explains. Additionally, your selected surgeon should be able to clearly explain the pre and post-surgical experience, Jacob says. Any questions you have should be answered so that you know what to expect in terms of recovery and results.
TSG Tip 387 from Dr. Christian Jacob of Hedgewood Plastic Surgery in New Orleans, Louisiana; Dr. Babar Sultan of Sultan Facial and Plastic Reconstructive Surgery in Towson, Maryland; Dr. Jaimie DeRosa of the DeRosa Clinic in Palm Beach, Florida; and Dr. Joyce Aycock of Joyce Aycock MD in Denver, Colorado. Hedgewood Plastic Surgery is featured in The Scout Guide New Orleans. Sultan Facial and Plastic Reconstructive Surgery is featured in The Scout Guide Baltimore & Annapolis. DeRosa Clinic is featured in The Scout Guide Palm Beach. Joyce Aycock MD is featured in The Scout Guide Denver.