One of the most important decisions you have to make is who to select as your plastic surgeon.
It used to be easier. You asked your family doctor and your friends and maybe looked at the Better Business Bureau. But now, things have gone haywire with the introduction of social media. This aspect of advertising has blurred the distinction between an experienced, trustworthy surgeon and someone who just has a lot of followers on social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. How does a patient differentiate the fakers—the social media stars—from the doctors who are actually performing safe and ethical surgery?
This can be a very hard thing to do, and in fact, we now know that many patients are left wondering how they themselves could be fooled into believing the social media hype. In this blog, I will outline the best ways to choose your surgeon and some of the worst ways, including social media posts.
How To Choose a Plastic Surgeon in 5 Steps
When it comes to choosing your plastic surgeon, there is no shortcut and no easy way around doing this—you have to do your homework. The homework begins with just asking your own doctors about the operation you are considering. And then you should ask your friends—so many of them have actually had a procedure and never told you! But this is the first step—NOT and I repeat NOT looking at social media! Searching online can be a first step. The website can be a useful tool, but only for looking at the overall practice. The only way to really evaluate the practice is to do your homework. Surgeons with very little experience can appear as a celebrity on social media. Buyer beware.
Step 1: Ask Other Doctors for Recommendations
Homework Assignment: Ask your family doctor or OB, or even your dentist, or any other doc you see about the operation you are considering. This is a crucial step. You want a doctor in your area. There are so many highly skilled surgeons in every city and state—the whole idea of traveling to the celebrity surgeon is crazy. They are not that much different and may actually be worse than the doctors you know in your area. When you get 2 or 3 names, then schedule an appointment with all of them. This is important so that you find the doctor that best meets your needs. It is worth the time and energy … you will see!
Step 2: Find Out What Your Friends Have Had Done
Homework Assignment: Ask your best friends about what they have had done … and ask at least 4 or 5 of your friends! There are so many plastic surgeons and so many fakers—you need to get the whole playlist. And you are going to be surprised by how many of your friends have done something … so get the conversation started!
Step 3: Schedule 2 or 3 Consultations
Homework Assignment: Have a consultation with each plastic surgeon on your shortlist. This is not a rush, and so this part may take a few months. The really good plastic surgeons are booked out 4 to 6 months or MORE!! You really do not want to choose a doctor who can see you next week and operate the week after! Does this make sense?
The experienced plastic surgeons are all booked ahead at least 4 to 6 months and sometimes even longer. This is not something you want to rush into—it is worth the wait to have the level of expertise you get with an experienced surgeon. (You can learn more about scheduling and preparing for your surgery in my related blog post.)
Step 4: Do Some Research
Homework Assignment: Now that you have had the 2 to 3 consultations, do some of your own personal education. Look a few things up online. Think about the information you learned, and do a little more of your own digging to learn more. Look over your doctor’s website and before and after photos again. Maybe even at this point, you can look at social media. This will help consolidate the information you have learned and help you decide. Listen to your gut too. This may be the biggest factor—and remember you have to feel really good about this decision.
NOTE: OFTENTIMES THERE ARE CONFLICTING PLANS. As plastic surgeons, we all have our own ideas and our own perspectives on the issue—so you may have different plans suggested. For instance, one doctor may say you need a breast lift and another disagrees. Or one would say you should do lower eyelid surgery and another say you can do filler. These disagreements come from our own perspective on the best way to deal with your issue. It is important to try to understand the different opinions, but sometimes you just have to trust the surgeon you feel the most comfortable with.
Step 5: Decision Time!
It is not all about the price! The amazing thing about the price is that the expensive choice is not always the most experienced or the most skilled! The prices can be hard to sort out—what each doctor includes and why the fees can be so different. The same operation can be $10,000 or $20,000—so how can you tell? And does the expensive choice indicate quality or just high cost? This is a cold, hard truth about plastic surgeons, and there is no easy answer.
But I can tell you the relationship between the surgeon and the office as a whole is probably a bigger factor than the cost. You have to feel really good about them in general, and like them … and this goes both ways. As a surgeon, I have to feel good about my patients.
As a plastic surgeon in practice for over 26 years, I am amazed by the change in how patients vet or choose a surgeon. In the first part of my career, there was no internet or social media. I had to build my reputation by doing a really good job and hoping the patients and the referring doctors would tell their friends and patients to come to me. It was a slow process, but there is no shortcut for excellence and mastery of a skill.
Nowadays, however, the newly minted plastic surgeons with little to no experience have a website and social media following that would suggest they are experts. The only path to mastery is time and experience. This probably occurs about 7 to 10 years into practice! This is my personal opinion on this—I mean, I was pretty good as a younger surgeon, but something just clicked about 12 years in— and now at 26 years, I can tell you, I am peaking!
My Final Thoughts
I do not aspire to be a celebrity plastic surgeon on social media. I want to take care of my patients, who come from around Columbus, Ohio, and make sure they have the best outcome possible. I want to be as humble as I can as I do this—I am still learning and growing, and every day I thank God that I am able to do it. I have the best job ever because I can help a patient in their time of need, and when they are most vulnerable, to feel and look better. What a job!
If you are from outside the central Ohio area, just contact me and I can tell you who I would recommend in your area! The Aesthetic Society also provides a helpful checklist for choosing a plastic surgeon on its website.
So if you choose the A-team at Aesthetica, we will all work together to guide you on your journey and provide the best outcome possible. To request a consultation, use our online form or call us at (614) 569-2649.