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How to Choose a Facial Plastic Surgeon


Choosing a qualified facial plastic surgeon is the key to ensuring that you receive superior care and attain the cosmetic surgery results you desire. Learn about the traits of a qualified plastic surgeon, including board certifications, educational background, and more.

What You Should Know about Board Certification

Those choosing a facial plastic surgeon must remember that the principle of caveat emptor (buyer beware) applies. It is up to the patient to research the qualifications of prospective surgeons, including board certifications.

Just because a plastic surgeon is “board certified” does not mean he or she is sufficiently qualified to perform facial plastic surgery. Self-proclaimed boards of plastic or cosmetic surgery are not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) — the main body of the 24 recognized medical specialties. For a board certification to be meaningful, the board should have ensured that the surgeon has successfully completed an accredited residency in plastic surgery and passed the examination process necessary to obtain board certification.

In the United States, all qualified plastic surgeons will have been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Those designated "facial plastic surgeons" have undergone secondary, specialized training and are certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

General vs. Facial Plastic Surgeons

Only some surgeons can legitimately claim to be a facial plastic surgeon. To do so, a surgeon must have completed years of specialized training in Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery and passed the tests required to be certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Questions You Should Ask Your Facial Plastic Surgeon

A good facial plastic surgeon will be open about his or her credentials, experience, safety record, and outcomes. The surgeon and office staff should make you feel comfortable at all times and welcome all your questions. A good facial plastic surgeon should be:

  • Candid, professional, and easy to converse with
  • Passionate about the practice of surgery and the enrichment of patients’ lives
  • Attuned to your goals, hopes, concerns, and facial anatomy
  • Focused on artistic sensibilities, with an eye for form, proportion, beauty, and a natural look
  • Able to produce before-and-after pictures of past surgical cases
  • Concerned about hiding surgical incisions in inconspicuous areas

Potential patients should ask the following questions of a potential facial plastic surgeon:

Questions about the Surgeon’s Background

  • Which boards have certified you? (A facial plastic surgeon should be certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. They may also be certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the American Board of Ophthalmology, or the American Board of Dermatology.)
  • Are you associated with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons?
  • What is your educational background? What internships and surgical fellowships have you completed?
  • What are your philosophies regarding anesthesia, surgery, and optimal outcomes?
  • What hospitals are you affiliated with?
  • Are you in good standing with the local medical society and the hospitals with which you are affiliated?
  • Where do you perform surgery? Is the facility accredited?
  • Have you ever had your malpractice insurance coverage revoked, suspended, or denied?

Questions about Surgery

  • Am I a good candidate for facial plastic surgery? If so, which procedure or procedures?
  • May I speak with one of your patients who had the same surgery I am considering?
  • What is the charge for the procedure? Will I be provided with written fee quotations? Do you offer cosmetic surgery financing?
  • How many procedures of this type have you performed?
  • How long will the surgery take?
  • What type of anesthesia will be used? Who will administer the anesthesia?
  • What is the recovery time?
  • What kind of help will I need during recovery?
  • Who will supervise my postoperative care?
  • What are the risks involved in this procedure? What percentage of patients has experienced complications at your practice?
  • Is postoperative medication necessary? If so, what kind?
  • What constitutes “optimal results?” What results can I expect, given my anatomy, age, lifestyle, etc.?
  • During recovery, will I need to take time off work?
  • How long can I expect the results of the surgery to last? What factors may affect the long-term outcome of the procedure?
  • If the procedure’s result does not fit agreed upon criteria, will you repeat or correct the procedure? If so, will I be charged again?

Find a Facial Plastic Surgeon in Your Area

Choosing a qualified facial plastic surgeon is the first step toward a successful procedure. DocShop is an online resource designed to help you locate experienced surgeons in your area.

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