Does your doctor have pre- and post-op photos of the procedure you’re interested in? If a doctor is comfortable with a procedure, they’ll post their before and after photos. And if they don’t look so great, beware, because any doctor would naturally post their best photos.
How do they refer to themselves? Do they say they’re a cosmetic surgeon or a plastic surgeon? If they noticeably avoid stating that they are a plastic surgeon and use alternative language such as cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon, cosmetic surgeon or board certified cosmetic surgeon, then they did not complete an accredited training program in plastic surgery and are not a plastic surgeon. I’m not saying that plastic surgeons are the only doctors that perform cosmetic surgery but what I am saying is that you can’t be sure what they’re training has been unless they’re a plastic surgeon. Plastic surgery training is undeniable — held to a high level of competence — and requires oral and written certification and re-certification.
If they were a plastic surgeon, they’d tell you immediately since there would be no need to beat around the bush and hide their true training credentials. Because ultimately, if you trained to be a specialist in cosmetic surgery by becoming a plastic surgeon, why would you hide it! To determine if someone is a board-certified plastic surgeon, click here.
Check their available reviews. But be thorough and look at Google, RealSelf, Yelp, HealthGrades and RealPatientRatings.com.
Do they give you useful pricing information on their website? Most doctors make it very difficult to determine pricing before going in for a consultation. But this is a potential waste of your time and theirs if the cost is out of your budget. Look for pricing information on a plastic surgeon near you by clicking here.
Check out their training, not just their board certification. Does their resume say they trained as an ER doctor or an orthopedic surgeon but doesn’t show any formal training in plastic surgery? While it seems strange, there’s nothing technically illegal about practicing cosmetic plastic surgery without training in a plastic surgery fellowship but it is highly questionable from an ethical standpoint.
Google the “Medical Board” of the state you’re in and once at the Medical Board website, you can access the doctor’s license to see if it’s in good standing or not. That information is public so you don’t have to have a password to check.
Ask a friend who had a similar operation and ask them whom they went to. Were they pleased? This is the strongest recommendation you can find when looking for a plastic surgeon.
Do they make unreasonable claims on their website like a lunchtime facelift? Be very careful with these too-good-to-be-true promises. A legitimate facelift cannot be done during a lunch break. I believe a less-invasive, minimal-result procedure can be done during your lunch break, but not a facelift!
While not everyone has time, a second opinion is a very reasonable thing to do. But understand that your doctor may charge for a cosmetic consultation. That is their right.
How does the doctor look on their website? Does his/her face have an “operated on” appearance? A plastic surgeon that’s had “too much” plastic surgery should be a red flag. If they think they look appropriate when in fact you think they look bizarre, chances are they’ll inflict that same twisted self-image of what they think looks good, onto you!
Dr. Jonathan Kaplan is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in San Francisco, CA and founder/CEO of BuildMyBod, a website that provides consumers nationwide with itemized price estimates on the cost of cosmetic and other out-of-pocket procedures from its database of almost 100, and growing, board-certified plastic surgeons, dermatologists and other health care providers that believe in price transparency.