With plastic surgery procedures on the rise, more and more plastic surgeons are promoting themselves online and in social media. It can make finding a qualified, top cosmetic surgeon so much easier – and so much more difficult.

How do you find a reputable cosmetic surgeon?

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing the best cosmetic surgeon to perform your aesthetic procedure:

  1. Certifications: Choose only surgeons who’ve earned board certification in a specialty recognized by the American board of Medical Specialties, which includes the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) but also the subspecialty boards for Otolaryngology called the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS), and for Ophthalmology, called the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ASOPRS). Ideally, your doctor will also be a member of The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS – @theaestheticsocietyasaps and https://www.surgery.org/), an organization of board certified plastic surgeons dedicated to cosmetic surgery. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS), in contrast, is NOT governed by the American Board of Medical Specialities, meaning that these “board certified” members are not held to a comparable standard of training and certification. In some instances, there may even be no formal training in a surgical discipline at all, since cosmetic surgery is not a recognized medical specialty and does not include the formalized residency training that all recognized medical specialties – such as plastic surgery under the ABMS – require.
  2. Advanced Training: Ideally, your plastic surgeon will have received specialized fellowship training in aesthetic surgery. This means that after completing 6 years of plastic surgery residency, they spent an additional year (or more), focusing solely on the art of cosmetic surgery.
  3. Before & After Results: Standardized, professional before and after photos are essential. Pictures should be taken from the same angles, with the same lighting, without clothing or makeup that obstructs the view. In my opinion, casual photos (including patient selfies) are completely useless for the purposes of evaluating a surgeon’s work. You can make anything look better from a different angle and with different lighting: think of how many selfies we often take before we get that angle and lighting just perfect.
  4. Patient Reviews and Recommendations: When researching online reviews, make sure you’re using a reputable third party site, such as Yelp or google, that vets their reviewers prior to publishing. This helps ensure the review is non-biased and not fabricated for false promotion. To find out if a cosmetic surgeon has experience with your desired procedure, call the office and ask for a list of patient references. They should be able to provide you with several former and existing patients who are happy to discuss their experiences with you. If the plastic surgeon is unwilling to provide that, it’s a major red flag.

Listen to your intuition

In my opinion, the most important factor when considering whether or not a board certified aesthetic surgeon is the top choice for you is the feeling you have during and after your consultation. How well does the doctor listen to you? Is the surgeon patient and attentive? Is this someone you can trust, not only to treat you with the highest standard of care during your surgery, but before and after as well? Is the office environment welcoming, the staff friendly and helpful? Bottom line: you are entering into a very personal relationship, entrusting your cosmetic surgeon with the only face and body you have. Not only is a mutual respect and understanding essential, but at the end of the day, you definitely need to like each other.