The Smart Guide To Choosing A Plastic Surgeon

Find a plastic surgeon

For anyone considering cosmetic surgery, it can be an exciting but also intimidating time. How do you choose a surgeon that will meet all your expectations?

There are several key factors to consider when choosing a surgeon. This article will detail what to look for specifically.

Having a good plastic surgeon can make all the difference.

If you have ever flicked through Sunday night television and landed on the E! network (which let’s be honest, we all watch from time to time), then you probably have seen the addictingly bad TV show Botched.

The show centers on surgery-gone-wrong. Some of the botched jobs can be nightmarish. There are uniboobs from out-of-proportion implants, and many individuals who have had too many bad procedures (even individuals who have tried to make themselves into living-dolls).


Through the show, it’s up to the surgeon to fix these botched jobs and give these individuals quality work that will save their appearance.

The end results are always rewarding to watch, but honestly, no one wants to be featured on Botched. Everyone wants their first-time surgery to go smoothly and result in a beautiful improvement.

The first step to achieving that goal is choosing the right plastic surgeon. Here are tips to help you find the best one for you:

Make sure the surgeon is board-certified

For plastic surgery, you want a doctor who’s certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. It’s simple: The American Board of Medical Specialties’ website will tell you if a doctor is board-certified in plastic surgery.

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Why is it so important to have a board-certified surgeon? Because legally any doctor is permitted to do any procedure (a psychiatrist could do a breast augmentation, yikes!).

If you use a board-certified plastic surgeon, you know he or she has completed three to five years of training in general surgery and a minimum of two to three years of training in plastic surgery, plus they have to take written and oral tests.

Board-certified plastic surgeons also have to do continuing medical education and take a written test every 10 years.

You can also look to the organizations of surgeons to get a sense of their knowledge.

Doctors that have American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) membership are individuals that also have significant experience in cosmetic surgery. ASAPS membership is by invitation only.

Most practices’ websites or doctor contacts will show the various memberships of the surgeons.

Like this snippet of certifications from Plastic Surgery Specialists website:

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Check the surgeon’s record

You can find this out easily by going to the Medical Board of California’s website. Links to the Web sites of every state’s medical board can be found here.

Many state licensing boards, like California’s, list malpractice judgments, plus any disciplinary actions by the board.

Look for experience

Experienced aesthetic plastic surgeons generally perform a wide range of cosmetic surgeries on a regular basis. Patients should ask about the surgeon’s experience with the particular procedure being considered.

If considering a “new” technique or technology (maybe something like the CoolSculpting® procedure), patients should ask even more questions about experience and results.

Would you feel safer taking a cross-country road trip with a newly licensed driver or with someone who has had their license for years and has made the trip numerous times before? Same principle applies.

Also, read through testimonials to see what real patients have to say:

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 10.18.08 AMPlastic Surgery Specialists has a whole page on their site full of details about patient experience and follow-up care. It’s a great resource for discovering more about their staff and procedures.

Ask if the surgeon has hospital privileges

Even if you’re having a plastic surgery procedure at an outpatient clinic, it’s worth asking where the doctor has hospital privileges. This is because hospitals do background checks, Dr. Rod Rohrich, past president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, shared in an interview with CNN.

Before granting operating privileges, hospital review committees evaluate a surgeon’s training and competency for specific procedures.

“If they don’t have hospital privileges, that’s a huge red flag,” Rohrich says.

Come prepared with questions for the doctor

The consultation is an important opportunity for questions to be asked and answered. It should include a candid discussion of risks as well as benefits of the surgery.

A thorough consultation also involves a review of your medical history including any existing medical conditions. All these factors help the surgeon to custom-tailor the operation to best meet the needs of each patient.

Here is a good beginning checklist of questions to ask, provided by The American Society of Plastic Surgeons:

  • Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
  • Are you a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons?
  • Were you trained specifically in the field of plastic surgery?
  • How many years of plastic surgery training have you had?
  • Do you have hospital privileges to perform this procedure? If so, at which hospitals?
  • Is the office-based surgical facility accredited by a nationally- or state-recognized accrediting agency, or is it state-licensed or Medicare-certified?
  • How many procedures of this type have you performed?
  • How often do you perform this type of procedure?
  • Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
  • Where and how will you perform my procedure?
  • How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
  • What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
  • How are complications handled?
  • What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the outcome of my surgery?
  • Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for each procedure and what results are reasonable for me?

In the San Francisco or Marin County area and interested in learning more about a specific procedure? Book a consultation today!

It’s your body and your appearance that you are altering, so never feel like there are any dumb questions to ask or too many questions you want answered.

Be wary of multiple procedures

Risks can go up when procedures are bundled together.

A doctor could be making an unethical choice when suggesting multiple procedures. If a patient comes in for a nose job procedure and is pushed into a neck lift, as well, with no prior consideration for that type of procedure – then that could be a red flag.

It’s important that you can talk openly and comfortably with your doctor, but if you feel something is off then take a step back and look at the situation objectively.

Patient satisfaction is enhanced when surgeon and patient candidly discuss goals, agree on realistic expectations, and plan the course of the surgical journey together.

Find out about follow-up care

Good surgical care does not end with the surgery.

For most surgeries, plastic surgeons want to see the results and monitor your progress. Non-surgical procedures usually require a consistent schedule, so you can maintain your results. You should inquire about follow-up visits and about the doctor’s policies if surgical revisions become necessary.


Choosing a plastic surgeon doesn’t have to be super complicated. It is a major decision, however, and should be treated as such.

No one wants a botched job and ensuring that your procedure goes smoothly begins with picking the right surgeon.


  • Certification
  • Experience
  • Hospital privilege
  • Communication
  • Follow-up care

Those in Marin County, California can schedule a consultation today with board-certified surgeons at a world-class plastic surgery clinic. Make your consultation today to find out more.

Any other advice for those interested in cosmetic surgery and searching for a doctor? Share below!

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