Patients often ask me how to shop for and find the best plastic surgeon for their procedure.
To paraphrase Judge Elbert Tuttle’s 1957 commencement address in which he defines the meaning of a professional: When seeking the services of a professional, there is no guaranteed outcome in advance. The consumer is, in essence, buying a promise of service. The service provider has no goods to sell or land to till, and is in reality, selling him or herself. So what is a piece of a man or woman worth? If he or she possesses the quality of integrity, the service is priceless. If he or she does not, the service is worthless. If the service is cosmetic surgery, the difference may be even more significant. A great result means a more appealing face or body for many years, and is often life changing from a personal and career standpoint. A poor outcome resulting in deformity can be a liability for life, and indeed, worse than the original.
So, without the capacity to see the result in advance, how does the consumer shop for cosmetic surgery? The answer is to buy integrity, and the highest standards. If your surgeon has the highest standards for his or her performance, your care will be the best. Surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) have engaged the most demanding and exacting training and examination process, and satisfied all associated requirements. ABPS certified surgeons fulfill continuing education and maintenance of certification guidelines, and have committed to providing the best available care. There is NO OTHER American Board of Medical Specialty recognized board that certifies surgeons in cosmetic surgery. Therefore, don’t just ask if your surgeon is “board certified,” be sure he or she is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. These surgeons can be found at abplsurg.org, and may carry the Starmark logo on their marketing materials.
Beyond certification by the ABPS, look at “before and after” photos of his or her work, and evaluate whether or not you yourself believe the outcome is what you would hope for if you had the appearance of the pre-surgical photograph. Beauty is somewhat subjective, and “in the eye of the beholder.” Are the surgeon’s “after” pictures more beautiful to you than the “before?” After two or three consultations with ABPS certified surgeons, you will feel comfortable planning your procedure, and will likely have found a professional that you trust will be a reliable partner, shepherding you safely toward the result you are hoping for.
Steve Laverson, MD, FACS