After deciding to have cosmetic surgery, many patients have difficulty choosing the best plastic surgeon for them. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, “Choosing the right plastic surgeon is the most important factor in the success of a patient’s plastic surgery.” How to approach the process of picking a surgeon is not always easy. In order to try to simplify the process and use objective criteria in making such this important decision, Dr. Paul M. Parker and his team at the Parker Center for Plastic Surgery, have developed a “Consultation Checklist.” Searching for a surgeon becomes more manageable when you use a clearly defined system to make the choice. This list divides the most quantifiable factors used in selecting a plastic surgeon into a checklist that helps the patient evaluate plastic surgeons in NJ fairly and accurately.
Start the process by looking for a surgeon that meets your needs. You can get referrals from friends or family members who have had cosmetic surgery, your physician, and by researching online. For traditional medical and surgical procedures you should heavily weigh the advice given by your doctor. For cosmetic surgery procedures, however, patient referrals are usually very valuable and important. Patients who have been through the process themselves can give you straight talk about the care given by a particular practice. It’s best to select a surgeon who is a member of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS); this prestigious society requires its members to be board certified plastic surgeons with significant experience in cosmetic surgery and operate in fully certified surgical facilities. Their members can be found at surgery.org.
Review the surgeon’s website to determine their education, training, experience and philosophy. Many surgeons have designed their websites to be user friendly educational tools which provide a glimpse into the practice before scheduling an in office consultation. Be sure to look at the surgeon’s before and after photos on the site. Photographs are one of the most important ways of evaluating a plastic surgeon’s results:
- Be sure you see more than one or two examples of the procedure you are considering.
- Be sure the results look natural and not “over operated.”
- Be sure the pictures are the surgeon’s own patients.
Schedule between 3 and 5 consultations for face to face visits with the surgeon and their staff. During these visits, evaluate the caring and competence of the surgeon and their team. You will meet with the surgeon and hear their recommendations, evaluate more before and after photographs, evaluate the office for cleanliness, staff organization and dynamics. In some offices, you can undergo computer imaging to give you an idea what your results should look like. Others will perform a sizing session on patients seeking breast augmentation to help customize implant size for them.
It’s usually a good idea to complete all the consultations you have scheduled. Even if you think you’ve found your surgeon at the first visit, you may discover better options as you shop. Most patients feel better informed after seeing several surgeons. If seeing several surgeons raises conflicting advice, make arrangements for a second consultation with your short list of potential surgeons. Ask them to help you sort through the various recommendations you have heard and clarify their advice.
In choosing the best surgeon, look for:
- Expertise—ideally, an ASAPS surgeon who you trust and like. Trust relates to the surgeon’s training, experience and results. “Like” relates to the surgeon’s openness, willingness to communicate and kindness. If you can find both qualities in the surgeon you choose, your overall experience will be better.
- Safety—be sure the procedure is performed in a fully certified facility with a board certified anesthesiologist in attendance for your procedure.
- Support—be sure your surgeon is surrounded by a nurturing, knowledgeable and patient centered supportive team for your pre operative education, procedure and recovery.
As you research your plastic surgeon by looking at their website and meet with them and their team during your consultation, use this Consultation Checklist. It will allow you to objectively compare one surgeon and their team with the others. After you’ve evaluated each surgeon, add up their point totals. Compare this to the fee quote they have given you. If the highest fee quote comes from the practice with the lowest point value, look for a better value for your money. If a practice achieves a good point total for their surgical results, communication, and safety levels at a moderate price, you are able to save money without compromising quality.
“By creating this list, we’re giving patients a tool that will help them evaluate a potential surgeon and compare them to other New Jersey plastic surgeons. We’ve learned from our patients over the years what’s important to them. Accordingly, we have modified what we do in our practice to provide the best experience possible. This Checklist allows patients considering cosmetic surgery to evaluate all surgical practices by criteria we’ve learned our patients consider important,” explained Dr. Parker.
Patients are offered the Checklist when they make an appointment for a consultation at the Parker Center. The form is also available as a .pdf download from the website /.
Patient education has always been a top priority for Dr. Parker and his team at the Parker Center. The Consultation Checklist is another valuable tool that can assist plastic surgery patients in choosing the right surgeon for their procedure. Its development is consistent with the Parker Center’s belief that fully educating patients about cosmetic surgery allows them to make intelligent decisions that enhances their overall experience.