In 2019, there were over 18 million cosmetic procedures performed in the U.S, a trend that is projected to increase in the coming years. But with all of these procedures being performed—and all of the various surgeons out there—I’m often asked how a patient should choose their plastic surgeon.
Choose a board-certified plastic surgeon
While there are tens of thousands of plastic surgeons in this country, the most important decision you can make is to choose a plastic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). An ABPS-certified surgeon will have clinically-vetted knowledge and experience in a wide range of aesthetic plastic surgery procedures.
Is your surgeon a member of a surgical society?
In addition to board certification, look for a surgeon who is a member of a society of accredited plastic surgeons. Surgeons who are active members of surgical organizations have extensive experience and training in plastic surgery, as well as the support of their peers. For example, I am a member of the Aesthetic Society (formerly known as ASAPS), a group of board-certified plastic surgeons dedicated to the advancement of aesthetic (cosmetic) procedures. I am also a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. The ASPS requires all of its surgeons to have at least 6 years of surgical experience and a minimum of 3 years of experience performing plastic surgeries.
Choose a surgeon who is knowledgeable about pre-existing conditions
Though it’s rare, plastic surgery can sometimes uncover pre-existing medical conditions. Very occasionally these can be life-threatening, but more often than not they are aesthetic factors that can influence the outcome of a procedure. Either way, it’s critical to have a highly capable surgeon. I have 2 examples of procedures where my patients were unaware of their pre-existing conditions I’d like to share to highlight this importance.
My experience operating on a patient with hyperfibrinolysis
My relationship with hyperfibrinolysis is very personal. Recently I was performing a procedure on a patient who didn’t know she had a blood clotting condition, but I was quickly able to identify hyperfibrinolytic activity—a clotting condition normally associated with liver and heart surgeries—due to excessive bleeding. I immediately reached out to a hematologist, who confirmed my diagnosis, and I was able to safely finish the surgery.
This patient was grateful for my care and early diagnosis of hyperfibrinolysis—a diagnosis that explains an earlier loss of twins in utero that gave both her and her husband comfort in finally knowing the reason for the loss of their babies. Additionally, this information could be lifesaving if she were ever to have an accident or undergo another surgical procedure, elective or otherwise.
My experience operating on patients with tuberous breasts
My second example deals with patients who have tuberous breasts, a condition where a woman’s breasts have developed abnormally during puberty and taken on a conical, downward-facing appearance. While tuberous breasts are fairly common, they often go undiagnosed. Patients with tuberous breasts tend to have pouty nipple areola complexes, their breasts tend to be widely spaced, and they have a short distance between the nipple and the breast fold below (caused by absence of the lower one-third of the breast). Combined, these issues make it difficult to correct tuberous breasts with a traditional augmentation.
The good news is that surgeons who understand tuberous breasts will often make periareolar incisions to reduce or reposition the nipples, release the constricted lower portion of the tuberous breasts, and insert implants. A combination of these techniques leads to perky breasts with natural-looking areolas—and patients who are happy with their results.
Choose a surgeon with an accredited surgical suite
Many of my patients don’t realize that non-specialized surgeons are allowed to perform surgery in their normal offices without having hospital-level safety measures in place or the oversight of an accrediting organization. I bring this up because these things are very important to look for when choosing a plastic surgeon.
My practice, the Breast Implant Center of Hawaii, is a AAAASF fully-accredited surgical suite with modern, hospital-grade equipment. My board-certified anesthesiologists, OR staff, and I follow the highest hygienic protocols and safety measures, and—in the unlikely event that any issues arise—are able to quickly diagnose and remedy them.
Choose a surgeon with guiding principles
While the importance of skill can’t be emphasized enough when choosing your surgeon, you want to choose a surgeon who follows a set of principles to ensure they are acting in your best interest. I’ve woven in the guiding principles that I follow for each of my patients throughout this post, but I’ll lay them out here:
- Heart. You want your plastic surgeon to care about you as much as you care about you. This means making sure your surgeon fully understands your desired outcomes and any concerns you may have.
- Hands. As I mentioned, skill cannot be overemphasized. Make sure your surgeon is experienced and board-certified, and verify their technical skills by reading their reviews on platforms like RealSelf and Google.
- Eyes. Aside from technical skill, your surgeon will be performing an aesthetic procedure, so you want them to have an eye for beauty. A great way to make sure you will love your surgeon’s work is to check out their before and after pictures. Remember, an excellent plastic surgeon is an artist.
- Friends. Since all surgeons operate within a broader medical field, you want your surgeon to be well-connected and respected in their community. As I mentioned above, membership in surgical societies not only ensures a surgeon is an expert, but that they have the support of their peers and other experts in the medical community. As my experience with my hyperfibrinolytic patient shows, it’s incredibly helpful for your surgeon to have relationships with other medical specialists to help diagnose and treat conditions early.
Care shouldn’t end after surgery
A good surgeon knows that post-surgical care is just as important as the quality of the surgery itself. Your surgeon and his staff should not only have great bedside manners, but they should follow up with great aftercare to make sure you are healing properly and comfortably. If you are having a surgical procedure that will require you to stay in an overnight facility, look for a practice that has a highly-trained overnight nurse to optimize your early recovery.
Choose the Breast Implant Center of Hawaii for your procedure
As a board-certified plastic surgeon, I have over 30 years of plastic surgery experience. My knowledgeable staff and I at the Breast Implant Center of Hawaii strive to ensure you have a safe and comfortable procedure with exceptional aesthetic results. Contact us online or call 808-597-8835 to speak with one of our patient specialists today about booking your cosmetic consultation.