Many patients today start their search for a plastic surgeon by simply asking their mobile device a simple phrase like “plastic surgeon near me” or “plastic surgeon near me breast augmentation”. Unfortunately, this may result in a visit with a provider who may not be a truly qualified plastic surgeon, i.e. board certified, to perform the desired surgery or be trained in not only the procedure that you are looking to have done but also how to handle all of the potential complications that can occur.
We often hear patients comment that they have been to other plastic surgeons in the Seattle or Bellevue area and when we search that provider we find that his or her specialty is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. (In other words, they are not board certified plastic surgeons.) Examples are the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery or the American Board of Facial Plastic Surgery, neither of which is recognized by the ABMS.
While many surgeons are members of these boards, these boards are not recognized the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The ABMS is the organization in the US that develops and sets the standards for medical specialty certification in the US. The specialties the ABMS oversees adhere to rigorous training and assessment standards. Certification in an ABMS medical specialty like Plastic Surgery, is a significant achievement that not all doctors attain. Board Certified doctors have been assessed to:
- Be skilled and knowledgeable
- Experts in their specialty
- Meet a higher standard
How to get recommendations for board certified plastic surgeons.
To find a qualified, skilled and vetted plastic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a board the is recognized by the ABMS, for your procedure, whether it be Botox or fillers (eg. Bellafill) or a surgical procedure for breasts (eg. breast augmentation or breast lift or reduction) or something like a tummy tuck or mummy makeover, you may wish to ask friends or family members, who have had plastic surgery procedures done, as they may have information on the consultation, the surgery and the recovery process.
Someone in the health care field, such as a doctor, nurse, nurse practioner or physician assistant may also have a recommendation on the best plastic surgeon.
These approaches may be better than an online search using phrases such as “best plastic surgeon near me ” or “plastic surgeon near me reviews”. These phrases will not necessarily direct you to board certified plastic surgeons.
Once you have found some leads, you can then investigate further as to their expertise and board certification. A few excellent ways to start your investigation are:
- Search for the surgeon on the ABMS certification check site, certicationmatters.org
- Search for the plastic surgeon on the America Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery surgeon finder page. Only plastic surgeons who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and who have at least 5 years of aesthetic surgery can be members.
- Ask the surgeon you are interested in if they have hospital privileges for the procedure you are interested in. Hospitals only allow surgeons to perform surgical procedures that are in their scope of practice.
Read reviews of the plastic surgeons near you.
Here is a quote from a mother of 3 children, who was looking on the internet for a plastic surgeon to perform a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty and a breast augmentation and maybe a breast lift, a so called “mommy makeover”.
“For me, knowledge is power, so searched for and then read reviews by patients by asking Siri phrases like “plastic surgeon near me mommy makeover”, as well as “breast augmentation near me”, “breast lift near me” and a “tummy tuck or abdominoplasty near me” to get a sense of previous patients’ experiences and to learn how each surgeon “operated” both in and out of the operating room.”
Another patient looking for the “best facial rejuvenation” started her searched “plastic surgeon near me face lift” and “plastic surgeon near me neck lift”. She then joined online plastic surgery and facial rejuvenation forums to help her find a suitable surgeon. “Most people don’t know this, but there is a “secret” group of thousands of women on Instagram and Facebook who create pages dedicated to various types of plastic surgery.”
RealSelf.com is a type of social network dedicated to cosmetic surgery. By putting in specific procedure terms like “Botox near me” and “Bellafill near me” information is generated regarding pricing and physicians who are certified in their specialty.
Use caution in your internet research, eg. “plastic surgeon near me reviews”
Reviews on Yelp, Google, RealSelf.com and social media pages may be good resources but they can also be misleading. Sometimes a patient is promoting his or her own agenda (positive or negative) instead of sharing knowledge and personal experience for other patients.
Also use caution when looking at “before and after” photos. Sometimes the angles, lighting, shadows, and makeup are different which may be manipulating the “after” pictures to improve the appearance in the after shot or to make the before shot look worse than reality.
It’s also wise to be wary of physicians and websites that seem to rely heavily on advertising. If their page continues to pop up on everything from your Facebook or Instagram feed to your local billboard, it could be a red flag rather than a good sign. The plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery market in the San Francisco, Bay area market, where there are many plastic surgeons and many other physicians and nurses providing cosmetic services, some the most highly regarded and highly trained surgeons in the area do no advertising at all.
Feel good about your experience from start to finish.
This goes without saying, but you should have a good “feel” for your experience from start to finish, from your internet search, your friends or family comments, the call for your appointment and your visit with your surgeon.
You do not want to feel rushed or pressured. Look for a surgeon that explores your aesthetic goals, encourages research and seeking additional opinions, and clearly discusses the pros, cons, risks and benefits of the procedure. Get your medical, plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery questions answered during your visit. This will help with decision making.
Ask for a portfolio of his or her work. You should also have a packet given to you or emailed to you regarding the procedure and consents.
Feeling confident in your surgeon and the procedure you have chosen is an important part of the process.