1. What, if any, board certifications does the doctor have?
Typically, you will want a doctor who is board certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Be careful. There are many other doctors out there that are board certified in something similar or even claiming to be triple board certified. A call to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or ASPS at 1-888-4-PLASTIC (1-888-475-2784) can tell you which doctors are legitimate plastic surgeons with outstandingqualifications. You can also visit the ASPS web site at www.plasticsurgery.org. The ASPS is the only one of the 24 boards approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties that certifies physicians in plastic surgery of the face and all areas of the body.
To further gauge a plastic surgeon’s worth you should definitely ask about their training. Has the surgeon completed an accredited residency program specifically in plastic surgery? Such a program usually includes three years of intensive training in the full spectrum of reconstructive & cosmetic procedures. Usually this fellowship is completed after already completing at least 3 years of general surgery residency training. Let’s not forget the need to also pass rigorous comprehensive oral and written exams to become board certified. Additionally, membership in ASPS requires a plastic surgeon to regularly attend continuing medical education courses and to adhere to a strict code of ethics.
So, does asking all of these questions mean you’re done? Of course not. Ask to actually see their diplomas and certificates. Look closely. In most states, a licensed physician may perform plastic surgery without being board-certified in plastic surgery. Just because a doctor is board-certified, it does not mean they are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS).
To be clear, I am board certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
2. How long has the doctor been performing this procedure?
Experience does help. You will want to pick a doctor who has performed the procedure more than a handful of times. You will also want to make sure they’re capable of handling the complications from these types of surgeries.
In the past year alone, I’ve performed hundreds of cosmetic breast, liposuction, tummy tuck, eyelid and facial rejuvenation procedures plus hundreds of other minor cosmetic procedures like mole removal, laser skin rejuvenation, laser hair removal, laser vein removal, as well as Botox and filler injections.
3. Can you look at typical “before” and “after” photos?
Choosing a doctor on experience and qualifications is important but it’s more important to see their results. One good way is to look at a “before and after” set of pictures. Carefully scrutinize the photos to see for yourself what results the doctor achieves. Also be sure to check the amount of time that has passed between each picture.
In my office there are binders full of patient pictures for you to browse through. I also show my patients many before and after pictures for any cosmetic procedure that they wish to seeon our websites. You can see different stages of recovery and scar maturation as well as below-average, average & above-average results so that you can have realistic expectations.
4. Can you speak with an actual patient who had this procedure done?
Happy patients are the key to a successful procedure. If you can speak with actual patients, then you’ll find out the truth about any pain or discomfort they went through. How long was the recovery process? And of course whether or not they would go through it again. An actual patient can give you their real-life experience and help you decide.
In my office, there are many patients that you can speak to at your convenience. Ask them any question you’d like. Your conversation is private. For any cosmetic procedure, there are several different patients waiting and willing to tell you about their own personal experience.
5. If the procedure is to be done in an outpatient center or an office, is the facility Medicare certified and state licensed?
If a facility is certified by both of these organizations, it means there is strict adherence to safety, operational, management and sterilization protocols. I work at several hospitals and surgery centers in the Chicagoland area. The list includes Loyola’s Surgery Center in Oakbrook, 900 N. Michigan Avenue Surgery Center, Illinois Masonic Hospital, Holy Family Hospital, Alexian Brothers Medical Center, Resurrection Surgery Center, Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center, Hinsdale Medical Center, and Elmhurst Memorial Medical Center. All of these hospitals and surgery centers are state licensed and accredited by Medicare (ie. they are JCAHO approved).
Along these lines, ask your surgeon if a hospital has granted them privileges to perform the operation they want to perform in their own office. Maybe there is a reason they only do this surgery in their office? Maybe they do not have privileges to perform that type of surgery at a hospital? You should always ask.
By the way, who performs the anesthesia? Does the doctor give his own sedation? Is the patient put to sleep by a nurse anesthetist? Or is a board certified anesthesiologist present at all times? Many doctors are able to offer a cheaper price because they skimp on something – make sure you are in safe hands. Make sure a board certified anesthesiologist is always there. I perform all of my procedures involving IV sedation or general anesthesia with one present. They can pay attention to your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation. I perform your surgery knowing you are in safe hands. For those patients nervous about receiving any sedation or general anesthesia, there are many minimally invasive procedures that I perform in the office strictly under local anesthesia. Make sure you understand all available options.
6. Does the office offer financing?
Can you pay by credit card? Which cards are accepted? Is there any kind of other financial arrangements available directly with the office? What about payment plans? Since most people cannot afford to pay for many cosmetic procedures in one lump sum, this may be an important question to consider.
My office offers you multiple financing options (Care Credit) as well as accepting cash, checks, money orders, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.
7. Who will perform the surgery and all of the postoperative care?
Will the same doctor who consulted with you actually perform your procedure or will part of the surgery be delegated to a surgeon-in-training? Then what about your postoperative care? Even though I still teach and regularly give lectures at many Chicagoland teaching hospitals, I personally perform all of the surgical procedures. No residents perform any part of your surgery. Believe me, none of the big academic hospitals can make you that promise!
After performing any plastic surgery, I call all of my patients the night of surgery to check on them and then see them the next day. I see them again in 2-4 days, 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and every year after that. Why do I keep telling my patients to come back? It’s quite simple - I love spending time with my patients and love seeing their progress after their procedure. Remember, I will not abandon you once I’ve received your payment and performed your operation. This is the most common complaint I hear from patients who have had procedures performed elsewhere. I will not rest until you are happy and completely satisfied with your results.
Knowing the answers to these 7 important questions will help you decide which surgeon you should favor with your important decision regarding plastic surgery.
Next I offer these 2 important recommendations
1. Interview Several Doctors and Then Go With Your Instincts
By visiting more than one doctor, you’ll be able to see how you are treated by both the office staff and the doctor. Are they eager to answer all your questions and concerns? Do you establish an easy connection with them? Does the doctor really listen to you? The general feel you get in the office and which doctor you like best usually helps you make the right choice. Trust your gut feeling. If you don’t like the doctor or office, or if what they tell you seems a little unusual, then don’t go forward with the process. Get another opinion until you feel comfortable.
2. Have realistic expectations!
When you decide to have a cosmetic procedure done it is very important to realize what can and cannot be done. By educating yourself on the particular procedure you are considering, you will have a better idea of its limitations and will in turn have more realistic expectations.
To think that by coming in for surgery you’ll walk out a model is simply unrealistic. By being realistic with your expectations, you drastically improve your chances of not being disappointed. If you are hoping for a miracle it won’t happen. It’s far better to ask exactly what you can expect then to assume how it will turn out.
From my experience most patients are quite happy and excited with their results. They will come back after having procedures done and tell me how much more confident they feel and more self-assured.
By following these recommendations and asking these 7 important questions, you’ll obtain all the information you need to make an informed and intelligent decision about choosing a plastic surgeon to help you. Remember, plastic surgery is a very personal decision and no one can make the choice for you. I hope I’ve provided some valuable information that will assist you in making the right decision. I’ll be happy to answer your questions and provide you with a comprehensive, no-obligation consultation to get to know you. I want you to tell me what results you are looking for and after examining you, I’ll be honest with you. I will also share with you my personal philosophy and show you what sensational results other patients have achieved.
Then, together, we can decide if there should be a next step.
I invite you to call my office at (847) 696-9900 to schedule your private consultation. Again, remember that the decision to have plastic surgery can often be difficult but the next step can be even harder. How do you find the right surgeon to trust your body to? No matter what type of plastic surgery you're considering, the most important factor in its success is the surgeon you choose. So please choose carefully.
Thank you very much for reading this. I hope you have found this information helpful.