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Tips For Choosing a Plastic Surgeon

Updated on June 1, 2010

If you are planning to have plastic surgery, choosing a plastic surgeon is one of the most important decisions that you will make. Many people do not give this enough thought, especially when you consider the amount of "botched" plastic surgery jobs that occur as a result of choosing a less than scrupulous plastic surgeon. Doing your homework beforehand will not prevent this from happening, but it can dramatically reduce the likelihood of falling victim to a plastic surgery scam. 

Don't Feel Obliged

Your initial consultation is supposed to be a chance for you to discuss your plastic surgery and ask any questions about the procedure before you commit yourself. Some plastic surgeons use consultations as an opportunity to push for a sale, regardless of whether the plastic surgery in question will actually be beneficial or safe. Reputable plastic surgeons will usually give you an opportunity to think things through before you commit yourself. In the case of scams, it is common for you to be under extreme pressure to put pen to paper. This often comes in the form of persuasive marketing to convince you that various types of plastic surgery will dramatically enhance your appearance and change your life. You should feel comfortable with your plastic surgeon, but this is unlikely to happen if you feel under pressure throughout the consultation. 

Avoid "Bargains"

When it comes to plastic surgery, you usually get what you pay for. The price that you are quoted includes surgical facilities and anaesthetic administration, as well as the surgery itself. If the price seems too good to be true, alarm bells should start ringing. Scams often use low prices to persuade unsuspecting victims to part with their cash. If the price you are quoted seems much lower than the average cost of the same plastic surgery elsewhere, ask where the surgery will take place and who will be administering the anaesthetic. These are just two of the areas in which scammers will cut corners, but both of these issues can have highly dangerous consequences for your health. Be aware that you may also need to have in-home care or medication after your surgery (depending on the type of surgery that you are having), and this will also increase the costs. 

Get A Referral

It may be possible to have your doctor refer you to a specialist plastic surgeon. This will usually mean that you will be treated by a plastic surgeon in the private sector, which can be quite pricey. However, you can place a good degree of trust in the plastic surgeon that you are referred to, as he or she will be accredited. This option is usually only available for those who desperately need to have plastic surgery to improve their lives. For example, you may be able to ask for a referral if your appearance is making you clinically depressed. Generally speaking, it is much easier to get a referral to a private plastic surgeon or plastic surgery clinic as you will be paying for the treatment yourself. 

Gather Information

Arm yourself with as much information as possible before you book any consultations with plastic surgeons. Bogus plastic surgeons tend to rely on their victims being relatively clueless about what to expect. This makes it easy for them to manipulate unsuspecting individuals. 

Qualifications and Accreditation

Look for evidence that the plastic surgeons that you are considering have qualifications and accreditation from a credible medical body. In many states in the US, it is legally possible for any MD to perform plastic surgery, including dentists and gynecologists. While this does not necessarily point to a scam as such, it is something to be aware of. In particular, check to see whether the plastic surgeon has certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). To be certified by this professional body, plastic surgeons need to have graduated from an accredited medical school and completed five years of training as a residential surgeon. Two of these years must have spent in plastic surgery, whilst the other three should have spent in general surgery. If you have any doubts as to whether the plastic surgeon has the relevant certification, you can search for him or her on the American Board of Medical Specialities website. 

Even if your plastic surgeon is certified by the ABPS, he or she will not necessarily specialize in the type of plastic surgery that you are intending to have. It is worth asking how many times he or she has performed the type of plastic surgery that you want to have to gauge their level of experience. Ideally, you want to know that you are in safe hands, and that your plastic surgery will not be botched due to their lack of experience in the procedure. There is nothing wrong with finding another plastic surgeon if you are not satisfied that he or she is enough of a specialist in your desired surgery. For example, if he or she has performed hundreds of face-lifts but relatively few breast augmentations, you may want to think twice before committing yourself to the latter procedure. 

Testimonials and Photographs

When visiting the plastic surgeon for an initial consultation, ask to see testimonials from satisfied customers. Bogus plastic surgeons will rarely have any of these to hand due to the fact that they do not have any satisfied customers. 

You can also ask to see "before" and "after" photographs of previous clients, but be prepared to only see the best ones. Reputable plastic surgeons should be happy to show you "before" and "after" photographs from clients who were not thrilled with the results, especially as this is relatively common. If he or she took the time to fully discuss your plastic surgery with you in your consultation, these photographs would not be demonstrating anything that you were not already aware of. If possible, ask to see photographs of clients who are similar to you in terms of build to give you a better indication of how your plastic surgery might pan out. 


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    • profile image

      Gerald Vonberger 3 years ago

      I think it's a good idea to make sure you don't feel obligated if you meet with a plastic surgeon for a consultation. You're right. It's the time to ask questions about your procedure and get a feel for whether or not the surgeon is a good fit for you. I also like what you said about making sure you can see before and after pictures. It will give you a good feel for what to expect after your procedure. Models aren't realistic, so it's good to see how the procedure worked out on people that actually had the procedure done.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      This is a great hub with very good advice. Thank you for all your information.