Finding a plastic surgeon used to be based almost exclusively on referrals and word of mouth, but since the advent of the Internet, things have changed. In Chicago, patients looking for plastic surgeons can find volumes of results online, and that’s how many new patients find me.
With almost unlimited information, much of it unverified, prospective patients need to be very diligent and really scrutinize what they see. Online, every surgeon appears to be on an even playing field, but that’s not so in the operating room. I recommend patients check out 2 kinds of Internet resources when looking into a surgeon:
- The surgeon’s website: On a surgeon’s website, patients should be able to find a lot of background information on the doctor, including an extensive list of credentials, training, and education, usually in the form of a Curriculum Vitae (CV). Surgeons’ websites should also provide information on which procedures they perform and whether they use any special techniques. Another key feature is a photo gallery showing before-and-after results of past patients. The gallery should include a good variety of photos of patients of different sizes, ages, cosmetic concerns and surgical procedures so prospective patients can see a surgeon’s full range.
- Third-party sites: Unbiased reviews and ratings sites are another great resource for evaluating surgeons. RealSelf.com is among the most popular patient forums in the world of plastic surgery, and many surgeons also have dedicated review sites. Prospective patients can read directly from past patients about a surgeon’s bedside manner, staff and facility, and other factors that affect the overall process.
Of course, once a patient uses these online resources to narrow down his or her search for a great surgeon, the best tool is an in-person consultation. That is the time for the patient to ask detailed questions, and to see if the surgeon measures up to his or her expectations.