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How Do I Choose a Plastic Surgeon
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How Do I Choose a Plastic Surgeon

Episode 7: How Do I Choose a Plastic Surgeon

The choice of a plastic surgeon is a very important and a very personal decision. So I'm going to go through a couple of criteria to consider so that you can make an informed choice that you're ultimately going to be very happy with. There are really five kinds of things to take into account when selecting your plastic surgeon.

How important is word of mouth in choosing a plastic surgeon?

The first thing is word of mouth. Then you can take reviews into account. Then look at the surgeon's before and after photo gallery, then look at their training and credentials. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, judge how comfortable you are with that surgeon in the context of an in person consultation. So with that framework in mind, let's go back and look at each of those criteria in a little more depth.

So first of all, word of mouth, that is the classic, most popular way of finding just about anything. And at least in terms of initial selection, the choice of plastic surgeon is no different. If you have a friend or a colleague who has had work done that he or she is very happy with, it only makes sense that you would go speak to the surgeon or provider who performed their treatment. Word of mouth has become a little more complicated in today's digital world: it is now extended by a provider's digital presence. Where they're showing up in Google search result?. What is their social media profile like? What does the online world tend to think of them? And that brings us into the next kind of criteria to take into account when selecting your plastic surgeon, and that is the online review.


Should you trust online reviews?

Online reviews, while important, should always be taken with a bit of a grain of salt. For example, a surgeon that has 100 five-star Google reviews with no actual comments behind those reviews may invite suspicion for having purchased or otherwise dishonestly gotten those reviews. On the other hand, a surgeon with a string of very positive reviews that go into specifics has a much more plausible and valuable online review profile. On the other end of the spectrum, you may have a surgeon that's getting consistently poor reviews and that is obviously probably someone that you want to stay away from.

However, there's that gray area in the middle where you have primarily positive reviews with a few negative reviews sprinkled in here and there. And that is a very realistic scenario. And someone with a review profile like that might be an excellent surgeon. And that's the kind of person that if you are otherwise interested in his or her services, it might bear looking into and going to visit with that surgeon and seeing what you think. And you can even bring up individual reviews that you're concerned about and see how he or she handles those questions. And you can make your own educated judgment based on the conversation that you have with the surgeon.

Another scenario comes into play when there is a surgeon that has almost no online reviews or very little online presence at all. And while that might be alarming to some, that really should not necessarily be a reason to run for the hills. There are many surgeons out there, especially older surgeons who can be very, very seasoned that just aren't as tech savvy, or aren't as concerned with building an online reputation for themselves. So if you otherwise have all the positive indicators in place for one of these individuals, it's still probably worth going in for a consultation and speaking with them. And I would not necessarily be deterred by the fact that they don't have much of an online presence.

What about before and after pictures?

Another online piece of the surgeon selection process is the surgeon's before and after photo gallery. And that is important from two perspectives. One, you can often get a sense of a surgeon's experience with a certain procedure or interest in performing a certain procedure by the distribution of photos in their photo gallery. And also you can get a sense of the surgeon's aesthetic. Do you like the results that they're achieving? Is that the kind of surgery that you would want to have? Are these the results that you would want to achieve after your procedure?

If there is a surgeon that you are interested in but you're not seeing the kind of before and after photos that you'd like to be seeing either in quality or quantity, there is nothing wrong with asking the surgeon about that and asking to see some additional photos in the office. Sometimes patients will give consent to show their photos in the context of the doctor's office but not to actually post them online. So you can never go wrong asking the question.

How important is your rapport with the surgeon?

Moving out of the online arena and into the in-person consultation, it's very important to make sure that you're comfortable with the surgeon just to see what kind of rapport you develop, what the conversation is like, and how you get on with them. Is this someone that you want to embark on a journey with? And ultimately, that's what an aesthetic surgery procedure is. You are forming a team with your surgeon and working towards an excellent result together. And just like any relationship, communication is key to making it successful.

How important is the plastic surgeon’s training?

Finally, it's important to take the nuts and bolts of the surgeon's background into account, namely, his or her training and certifications. Now, you probably won't know the relative merit of the surgeon's residency program or their fellowships, but what you can do is look out for some very important landmarks in that person's resume. Far and away, the most important criteria of a plastic surgeon and knowing that you're going to someone who is a safe surgeon and a skilled surgeon is looking for board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. To be board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the surgeon has had to complete a rigorous surgical residency and then pass a series of exams, both oral and written and demonstrate proficiency to their more experienced colleagues.


So as you can see from this discussion, there really are many criteria to take into account when selecting your plastic surgeon. You really have to form a complete picture for yourself by looking at the ins and outs of each of these categories. And just because someone doesn't quite meet your specifications in one category, that's not necessarily a reason to discount him or her. For example, you might love a surgeon's before and after photos, they might have stellar reviews, they could be board certified, and you could get along with them really well, but you might not have heard of the institution at which they did their training. Well, that may not matter if all the other boxes have a big check mark in them and there's that one box that you're not so sure about— that surgeon could still be the right choice for you. So ultimately, it comes down to doing your research, having lots of open conversation with the surgeon and any of your friends or colleagues who have had procedures and forming a well rounded opinion so that you can feel confident in your choice and go forward in getting a great result that you'll be thrilled with.


  • Darren M. Smith MD
  • Darren M. Smith MD
  • Darren M. Smith MD

All photos are of models except before and after images.

© Darren M Smith MD. All Rights Reserved.

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