Research a Plastic Surgeon
Selecting a plastic surgeon is the most important decision made. It is paramount that a qualified surgeon be chosen so that you get the best results possible. While plastic surgery is an elective surgery, it is still surgery. You are trusting someone to make what are (often times) permanent changes to your body. You want to select your plastic surgeon with the same carefulness with which you could go about choosing a physician for your newborn baby, for example.
Unfortunately, many women spend more time choosing a new handbag than they do on choosing their plastic surgeon. This page will show you the steps you should take to research your doctor, as well as what to look for in a surgeon.
Step 1: ABPS Certification
Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery is a must-have credential when searching for a qualified plastic surgeon. Click here to learn more about ABPS certification and why it is important, as well as how it differs from other "boards". Please note: There is NO board or qualification that is "equivalent" to certification by the ABPS.
Verifying ABPS certification can be done in a few ways. First, you can search on the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) site. You will need to create a free account in order to peform the search. The good thing about the ABMS site is that it allows you to see exactly what board a surgeon is certified by. For example, if a surgeon is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and NOT by the American BOard of Plastic Surgery, the ABMS will show you that information.
Alternatively, you can verify board-certification at the American Board of Plastic Surgery's (ABPS) web site. YOu do not need an account in order to perform a search. However, it will only show you whether or not the surgeon is not certified by the ABPS. While this is really the only thing that matters, many women are not only shocked to find out their prospective surgeon isn't ABPS certified, they're curious to know what they are certified in. In this case, searching the ABMS site is a better option.
Search the ABMS
Search the American Board of Plastic Surgery
Step 2: Physician History
The next step is to check your physician's history. (It is important to note taht this can be done for any doctor, regardless of his or her specialty.) History includes any proceedings and actions by the state medical board, malpractice history, etc.
If your surgeon has had a malpractice claim, don't automatically assume that the surgeon is bad and that you should not go to him or her. However, if there is a long history of malpractice suits and settlements, it is a red flag. Any pattern like that should be taken into strong consideration.
Click on the link below to go to the state board in which your (prospective) surgeon practices so that you can do a search.
Find your State
Check Hospital Privileges and Accreditation
If the first two things check out, your next step will be to verify that your surgeon has hospital privileges at the hospital(s) he or she lists. (During your consult, you will need to ask your surgeon which hospitals allow them privileges.) This is done by calling the hospital administration office and verifying that your surgeon is listed with that particular hospital.
Why are hospital privileges important? Well, in the event that you have surgery at an ambulatory surgical center or an surgery suite at your surgeon's office, and something goes terribly wrong and requires that you be transported to the hospital, you will want your surgeon to be able to continue to treat you and monitor your condition while you are at the hospital. If your surgeon doesn't have privileges at that particular hospital, he or she cannot treat you as a patient while you are in that hospital.
Accredited Surgery Suites
Accredited surgery suites are very important. Accreditation means there is oversight, and that high standards are maintained in that surgical suite OR ambulatory (outpatient) surgery center. Click here to learn more about about how these places are accredited, and how you can verify accreditation.