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Choosing the Right Cosmetic Surgeon

These guidelines can help you find the right cosmetic surgeon for your needs.

First, you should interview two or three surgeons whose specialties match your needs. The surgeons should be board-certified and members of one of these professional organizations:

  • The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • The American Society of Plastic Surgeons
  • The American Academy of Dermatology

There may be qualified surgeons in other professional organizations, but these are the primary groups that certify doctors to perform cosmetic surgery.

Personal recommendations are important. Ask friends for referrals if they have gotten a similar procedure. Get opinions from your family doctor and other doctor acquaintances. Surgical technicians and operating room nurses are an excellent source for information about a surgeon's skill in the operating room.

Remember, cosmetic surgery is a highly competitive field. Don't be confused by groups claiming to be "the only" or "the best" because this excludes many surgeons who may be better choices for your particular issues. Ask about their fellowship training -- specialized training in specific procedures. Check with your state's medical board to verify the surgeon's board certification, education, and license. And check whether disciplinary action has been taken against the surgeon.

Questions to Consider Before Selecting Your Cosmetic Surgeon

At this point, you may have narrowed your choices to one or two cosmetic surgeons. It is now time for the consultation. Here are key questions to consider:

  • What is the surgeon's area of expertise?
  • Has the surgeon practiced for many years or performed many of these procedures?
  • Is the surgeon friendly yet confident and professional?
  • If the procedure will not be performed in the doctor's office, does the surgeon use a certified surgical facility with board-certified anesthesiologists and up-to-date emergency equipment and anesthesia monitoring devices?
  • What is the total price of the surgery? (This includes the surgeon's fee, operating room, anesthesia, and other charges.)
  • Are you allowed to see before and after pictures of other patients? Are computer images available for you and the surgeon to view together?
  • Does the surgeon encourage you to ask questions?
  • Are the surgeon's answers to your questions realistic?
  • If a second surgery is needed, what is your financial responsibility?

After you've settled on a doctor and a procedure, you may want to get a second opinion. This will help you feel confident about your final decision.

You should exclude any cosmetic surgeon who:

  • Does not routinely perform the procedure you are considering
  • Dismisses the risks of surgery or is not open to talking about possible complications
  • Guarantees results
  • Will not or cannot show before and after photos of other patients
  • Does not allow you to freely ask questions
  • Is not courteous and respectful
  • Offers bargain fees or gimmicks
  • Is not routinely involved in postoperative care

Keep in mind, excellent credentials and a good rapport with your surgeon do not guarantee a favorable outcome. However, they are the foundation of a successful partnership between your surgeon and you.

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