In the 25 years I’ve practiced plastic surgery in Chicago, one of the most significant changes I’ve seen is how much research patients do before stepping foot in a consultation. Not only do they learn a lot about the procedures they are considering, but also about plastic surgeons themselves. Many of my patients come to their consultations already knowing quite a bit about my qualifications and credentials, and many are prepared with excellent questions.
For those of you who may be new to plastic surgery and just beginning your search for a physician, this blog post offers some tips for how you can learn from past patients. On a surgeon’s website, you can typically find information about the doctor’s education, training, and experience, but you can also learn a lot by seeing past patient results and reading their own words. Here are some tips:
1. Review testimonials. Reading what actual patients say about their experiences is a very valuable resource. The surgeon’s website may include patient testimonials, but there are also independent websites such as RealSelf.com where patients post reviews. This can give you a candid look at what it’s like to work with the practice and information on the surgeon’s bedside manner.
2. Look at before-and-after photos. Most surgeons feature a gallery of real patient photos on their websites and have additional photos available during your consultation. If photos are not available, or there are very few for the procedure you want, that is a red flag. When viewing photos, look for patients with similar attributes to yours. For example, if you are getting rhinoplasty to reduce a hump, find photos of patients who had the same concerns and ensure the surgeon gets consistent, strong results in those cases.
3. Always confirm a surgeon’s credentials. Although great testimonials and photos are signs you’re on the right track, that’s only part of the equation. Always check your doctor’s credentials. Surgeons may refer to themselves as “board certified,” but the organization that certified them may not be recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Only surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) are considered board-certified plastic surgeons, meaning they have satisfied rigorous education, training, and experience requirements and passed the ABPS exam.
In finding the right surgeon for you, it’s wise to learn from past patients, but also to follow your own instincts. Good luck on your search!