Top surgeon in Plastic Surgery: Tips to identify if your surgeon is top notch
Undergoing cosmetic plastic surgery is a very exciting and life changing experience. However, it may become also an overwhelming experience. Everything starts by identifying if your surgeon is truly the BEST in the field, or at least a TOP surgeon at the procedure that you are interested in doing.
In this article we are giving some tips and secrets to narrow down your search and hopefully finding the perfect match for your goals.
Where do I start?
In the age of information, online searches are the first step. Usually a google search is a good starting point. Keywords that you may use are: your procedure + the location where you live + Location of a nearby big city + board certified + plastic surgeon. The “board certified plastic surgeon” is very important. We elaborate on this topic in our article “board certification”
Google will give you by default nearby options, since they track your computer’s location.
You will observe that the first 3 to 5 searches have an “Ad” label before the address of the website. These are paid adds that practitioners use to capitalize your attention. Some people think that these are the higher ranked practitioners, but most times it’s just the opposite. Be judicious with your decision based on the add.
After the Ad ranked practitioners, you will see the highly ranked doctors in your area. These doctors are a good starting point. Review doctors among the 1st and second google search pages.
Other useful portals to search for surgeons?
In the last 10 years there has been an explosion of website portals that list physicians by specialty. Make sure that you focus on plastic surgeons. They will list all surgeons in your area. You will find contact information, pictures, interaction with patients and reviews.
Some of the most relevant sites are:
-RealSelf: This place is one of the more specialized portals related to cosmetic surgery. Definitively, a top ranked place to start your search.
-Health grades: This was once of the first websites focused on patient reviews.
-RateMD: Another early web portal that lists physicians and their patient reviews.
-Vitals: This was once of the first websites focused on patient reviews.
There has been an explosion of sites mimicking the early adopters of physician’s information and reviews. Many of these places are copy cats trying to replicate what the original portals have done already.
The relevant point is to find consistency among the various sites.
Main things to look for.
Congratulations you have achieved an important step in your search for your potential surgeon. Now that you have a list of potential candidates, you need to start the selection process. Here is a checklist of things that will help your selection process:
-Before and afters
Let’s expand on this check list.
This is the number one check list point. You need to make sure that your surgeon is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Most importantly, be aware that surgeons claiming being certified by the board of COSMETIC surgery, might not have had training as Plastic surgeons. To find the main differences please go to this link (board certification).
Before and Afters:
The before and after section is a testimony of the quality of work that your surgeon performs. In this section you will find the best work the surgeon has done. This could be deceiving. However, if you see results that don’t seem good, then you can start the elimination process.
TIP: Pay attention to the consistency and quality of the photography that is presented in this section. Random and non-consistent photos may show the surgeon’s standards and their attention to details.
Now you know if: 1. Your surgeon was well trained (board certification); 2. The quality of your surgeon’s work is adequate (before and afters). Let’s focus on the way how patients are treated by the practice that you are considering for your procedure.
Now you need to explore the quality of the process that your surgeon offers to her/his patients. Online reviews have given a reality check to physicians. Now patients can voice their experience publicly when interacting with their physicians. Good and bad experiences can be found on the above mention online portals.
TIP: Make a balance of the following considerations.
-Bad reviews are important to determine how the practice manages complications or unfortunate outcomes.
-Pay attention to the magnitude of the bad review.
-Are there any patterns of patient unhappiness?
-Is your surgeon arrogant?
-Is the staff dismissive, disrespectful or abrasive?
With regards to the positive reviews:
-Look at the detail of the description. It is very different to see a detail positive outlook of a patient’s experience, vs a simple: “they are the best” or “they are awesome”.
Remember, that negative reviews are more likely to be voiced. This makes eloquent positive reviews a good reflection of the experience that the patient undergoes.
By now you should be able to narrow down your list to 3 or 4 surgeons. It is time to set up your consultation.
Call and make the appointment
Your first interaction with the practices should be the front desk staff. Evaluate their level of knowledge about your procedure and friendliness.
Congratulations, now you have your appointment.
Some offices will charge a consultation fee. In many cases, they will honor the money that you paid towards the surgery fee, if you book the surgery with that practice. Some other practices will not have a fee.
TIP: Expensive is not always better. and cheap is not always worse. Do NOT make any conclusions just yet. Meet the doctor and the staff, and then have a more educated opinion.
Prepare for your appointment
Do some online research but do NOT go crazy.
Realself should be a good resource to get information.
Watching videos of the procedure may help, but not all sources are reliable. TIP: Many videos are commercially oriented more than informative oriented. Be judicious with your selection and do NOT cancel your surgery because of it.
Write down your questions. If you don’t do that, I promise you will forget.
Day of your appointment
Be on time. In many cases the practice will send you paperwork to fill prior to your consultation. Have it ready so the consultation can run in a timely fashion. If you can not print or access the documents online, they should recommend coming 15 minutes earlier.
How late is your appointment?
Cosmetic surgery can be a tricky topic to be discussed. The more focused your complaints are, the more efficient the consultation will run.
How long does the consultation last?
There are 3 possible scenarios:
- The doctor will be in and out.
- You will spend most of time with a nurse or a physician’s assistant, followed by the doctor.
- The doctor will conduct the whole consultation
TIP: The ideal is when the doctor spends quality time with you.
How much did you learn?
Remember that you are conducting a job interview. This time, you are in charge. Your doctor should provide you with relevant details related to your procedure. Don’t be persuade by the magic of before and after photos. Surgery is a complex process and you need to know the benefits, the risks, and the complications. If you answer most of your questions during your consultation, then you can tell how through your surgeon is?.
Does your doctor make sense?
It is important that your doctor speaks with simple words. The easier he explains the topic, the more knowledgeable he is. Following a coherent conversation, will give you a good idea of the clarity of your physician’s thoughts.
Does your doctor listen to your concerns?
It is unfortunate, but many surgeons are well known to love hearing themselves. Don’t let their knowledge overpower your concerns. Common sense is always a good way about approaching problems. However, be open to the professional opinion of your doctor. If the same recommendation comes from all your doctors, then you may consider adopting the consensus.
Is your plastic surgeon a good car salesman?
Some surgeons will try to convince you about upgrading your surgery. Please run away if they may suggest doing something completely different. (ie. You came for breast surgery and you come out with a facelift quote).
How to differentiate a good intended comment from the car sales one?
Everything is based on how things are said. Your surgeon should comment on the benefits and potential complications of the procedure that you came to discuss about. If there are pitfalls to your planned procedure, then she/he might elaborate on alternative procedures that may address the issues mentioned above.
At the end, this is a conversation where you and your potential surgeon will compromise on goals and expectations. This is the key to a happy outcome.
TIP: A car sales surgeon will have a unilateral conversation without elaborating on the rational of the proposed procedure.
Product quality control
Evaluate some of the before and after photographs. Usually you can have access to them through the website. If not provided, ask for them. However, facial surgeries are less likely to be found online, since people don’t want to be public about their facial surgery.
Get your quote and keep it to compare.
Keep your quotes to compare prices. Not always more expensive is better. On the same token, cheapest should alert your radar.
TIP: DO NOT pay attention only to the numbers when comparing your prices. Keep in mind that a cheap price from someone who has raised many red flags, may not be such a great deal. On the same token, paying a little bit more for outstanding care may be worth the peace of mind.
Here you have it. Put all the pieces together and choose your surgeon.
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