This Article Has Been Medically Approved By

Dr. George H. Sanders

• What keeps people from doing plastic surgery?

And if they do decide to move forward,

• How do they choose their plastic surgeon?

These two questions were the focus of a recent journal article in the May, 2013 edition of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal (33(4) p. 585-590). The authors surveyed 96 patients from general medical practice waiting rooms, and their conclusions are interesting.

• First – Why not plastic surgery?

#1 Reason – Fear of a Poor Result
#2 Reason – Cost
#3 Reason – Fear of the Recovery Process

According to these results, if I could offer a guarantee of a perfect result at no cost to the patient and with no recovery period, I would be the busiest plastic surgeon alive!! As we all know, however, none of these three are possible. On the other hand, when a patient goes in for a consultation with a plastic surgeon, they should be armed with these 3 questions and get answers from the doctor. Even if you don’t think to ask these, you probably would like to have an answer.

Similarly the doctor should have good answers to these questions since these are the most important ones that patients have in mind. Before and after photos of similar patients requesting similar results go a long way toward reassuring nervous folks, having reasonable fees and possible financing programs helps with the cost, and explaining the recovery process and having a patient who has gone through a similar surgery who can answer questions and explain their experience is of value.

• Second – How should I choose a plastic surgeon?

1st Most Important Factor – Reputation
2nd Most Important Factor – Board Certification
3rd Most Important Factor – Referral by a Friend or Physician

Reputation and a referral source require no explanation, but board certification is a bit more complex. My detailed explanation of what it means to be board certified is available at:

Many patients may not realize that there is a great deal of difference in the type of board certification, depending on what board does the certifying! To be Board Certified in Plastic Surgery requires far more training than being board certified by a cosmetic surgery board. Patients recognize that proficiency in plastic surgery as evidenced by passage of a board exam is important, just as it’s good to know that the restaurant where you’re dining has an “A” rating from the county health inspector. On the other hand, you want the “A” to come from an official body, not from an organization set up to provide the label of board certification for their members who complete only minimal training. Bottom line: The patient needs to be educated.

What’s interesting in this list of factors is the absence of “Advertising” as an important factor in choosing a plastic surgeon. In fact of the eight factors considered in the survey, this was by far the least important. Although you won’t go to a plastic surgeon if you haven’t heard of him/her, it apparently doesn’t seem to matter whether or not there is any amount of advertising that goes along with the doctor’s name. The take home message for plastic surgeons: Become board certified and focus on excellent results to generate referrals and yield an excellent reputation. That’s been my mantra for years + Excellent Patient Service!

What do you think? Please feel free to comment.

George Sanders, M.D.