After you know where to look, you need to know WHAT to look for in a plastic surgeon. You may receive referrals from friends and family or even spend hours scrolling surgeons on Instagram, but how do you really know if that surgeon meets the highest standards for education, experience, and ethics?
Here are the top ten qualities to consider:
- Membership in The Aesthetic Society
- Facility Accreditation
- Hospital Privileges
- Reliable References
- Follow-Up Care
A surgeon’s board-certification is the best indicator of his or her training in a particular medical or surgical specialty. In the US, make sure your surgeon is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to certify surgeons who specialize in plastic surgery. In Canada, ensure your surgeon is board-certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCSC). International plastic surgeons should be board-certified in their country of origin. Be aware that some surgeons may advertise that they are “certified” but may not be board-certified by an accredited board or may not have a board-certification specific to plastic surgery. See board-certification for additional information.
2. Membership in The Aesthetic Society
The Aesthetic Society is a group of the most advanced board-certified plastic surgeons dedicated to helping you safely become your most beautiful self. Membership to The Aesthetic Society is by invitation only. Each member goes through a rigorous vetting process to confirm their board-certification and ensure they are certified by the ABPS or RCSC*. But the requirements don’t stop there. Members must also submit a minimum number of aesthetic case studies, operate at accredited facilities, participate in continued education, and follow this strictest code of ethics. We conduct this added layer of vetting so you can feel even more confident when choosing an aesthetic plastic surgeon. Click here to learn more about why your surgeon should be a member of The Aesthetic Society. Use our find a surgeon feature to check whether your surgeon is a member of The Aesthetic Society or search for surgeons near you.
*Aesthetic plastic surgeons who are not citizens of the United States or Canada who meet the high professional and ethical standards required for an Aesthetic Society membership may become International Aesthetic Society members (ISAPS).
Experienced aesthetic plastic surgeons generally perform a wide range of aesthetic surgeries on a regular basis. Some surgeons specialize in specific aesthetic procedures or have experience performing new, cutting-edge techniques. Make sure your surgeon has experience with the procedure you are considering and ask to see case studies. When using our find a surgeon feature, you can filter surgeons based on their specific areas of expertise. If your surgeon suggests a “new” technique or technology, you should ask to see results that substantiate safety and effectiveness.
4. Facility Accreditation
A qualified surgeon can safely perform aesthetic plastic surgery in an accredited hospital, surgicenter, or office-based surgical facility. Current published data show that accredited office-based facilities have a safety record comparable to that of hospital ambulatory surgery settings. However, the majority of office-based surgical facilities are not accredited, which is why you must check that your surgeon only performs procedures at accredited facilities. An advantage of selecting a member of The Aesthetic Society is that all Aesthetic Society surgeons operate in accredited, state-licensed, or Medicare-certified facilities. See facility accreditation to learn more.
5. Hospital Privileges
Before granting operating privileges, hospital review committees evaluate a surgeon’s training and competency for specific procedures. Wherever your surgery takes place, be sure that your surgeon has operating privileges in an accredited hospital for the procedure you are receiving.
6. Reliable References
Asking your primary care doctor for plastic surgeon recommendations is a great place to start, and your friends may have suggestions too. No matter how you find your surgeon, always verify the surgeon’s board-certification independently by contacting the American Board of Plastic Surgery (www.abplsurg.org) or checking that they are a member of The Aesthetic Society using our find a surgeon feature. Once you know a surgeon has the proper qualification, you can also browse the surgeon’s ratings and reviews left by other patients to see examples of their results and learn more about their bedside manner and general approach.
The consultation is an important opportunity for you to ask questions and get answers. You should have a candid discussion with your surgeon about the risks and benefits of the surgery. As part of a thorough consultation, your surgeon should also ask to review your medical history, including any existing medical conditions. If your surgeon does not ask for this information, you should consider it a red flag as your health and safety should be his or her number one priority. All these factors help the surgeon develop a customized approach that best meets your needs.
Even the most experienced surgeon is not the “right” surgeon for every patient. Any successful relationship depends on good communication. You will likely be more satisfied with your results when you feel comfortable discussing your goals with your surgeon, can agree on realistic expectations, and plan the course of your surgical journey together.
9. Follow-up Care
Good surgical care does not end with the surgery. For most surgeries, aesthetic plastic surgeons want to see your results and monitor your progress. Nonsurgical procedures usually require a consistent schedule so that you can maintain your results. You should inquire about follow-up visits and about the surgeon’s policies should surgical revisions be necessary prior to your surgery.
You can find National averages for surgeons’ fees here. Keep in mind that costs may vary considerably depending on geographic region, surgeon experience, and individual patient factors. Surgeons can’t use the same technique for all patients, and the complexity and length of each patient’s specific surgery can affect cost. Also, most aesthetic surgery is considered “elective surgery,” and therefore, insurance does not typically cover the costs. While you don’t want to overpay for plastic surgery, you also don’t cost to be the primary driver when selecting a surgeon. See our cost resource section for more information.