Selecting a Plastic Surgeon

The quest for a more youthful, appealing physique along with a desire for greater confidence and well-being drive people of all ages and backgrounds to consider cosmetic surgery. As innovation, approach and lingo in this complex field advances, it can be more and more difficult to identify and distinguish the characteristics of the right kind of surgeon for your procedure. Increasingly, doctors of varying skill, specialty and experience have ventured into the cosmetic market, backed by powerful advertising campaigns that can both entice and confuse the first-time client. Potential risks run high, aesthetically, medically and financially. That is why it is so important to devote adequate time and attention to carefully researching the right doctor for you. Below, Dr. Capizzi has compiled some of the most critical questions to ask of your surgeon.

“What board certifications do you hold?”

The American Board of Plastic Surgery oversees every surgeon performing cosmetic procedures in the US. To become eligible, a surgeon must undergo rigorous training, residencies, peer reviews, and continuous testing in order to obtain or renew their certification. Although this may seem sufficient and it’s definitely a great start, Dr. Capizzi believes that it’s important for a cosmetic practitioner to also be board certified in general surgery by the American Board of Surgery. The reason is that a doctor with a dual certification will have completed training above and beyond the minimum required for the ABPS. In addition to having honed a sense of artistry in physical aesthetics, a doctor who has completed residencies, peer reviews, and the demanding requirements of general surgery will be equipped to handle any emergency or complication that may arise during a cosmetic treatment. Bearing this in mind, always research and double check your surgeon’s credentials before scheduling an appointment, as this will give you the peace of mind you need to objectively evaluate the next steps in your process.

“Do you belong to any professional surgical organizations? (i.e., American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery)”

Organizations such as the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery maintain stringent entry requirements, including minimums for number of years practicing and number of surgeries performed per year. Inclusion in such an organization is a good sign that your doctor’s professional standing is confirmed by his or her peers. Membership also indicates that your doctor has access to seminars, training and information about the latest, most advanced surgical techniques, products, skincare lines and cosmetic trends. You don’t want to find yourself getting a procedure that is no longer considered safe, or one that you will end up repeating later with a different surgeon.

“What separates you from other surgeons?”

This is a great question to ask, because a doctor will usually focus on his or her strengths in terms of technique, experience and areas of interest. It helps you to determine whether the doctor you are interviewing specializes in the particular procedure that interests you. You may find a doctor with excellent credentials that specializes in nose jobs, but that doesn’t reassure you much if you are getting breast implants. You can further break this question down to ask what the doctor does differently in terms of anesthesia, incisions or recovery. Don’t be afraid to get technical. You will be learning and gathering more information than you probably ever thought you could handle. Remind yourself that thanks to accessible websites like WebMD.com and MayoClinic.org, all the information you need to be empowered is at your fingertips.

Patient Stories

Having been through the Capizzi experience, these patients can help you understand the smoothness of the journey.

Do you have hospital privileges to perform this procedure?

Even if your procedure is performed at your doctor’s surgical suite or office, a reciprocating, privileged relationship with local hospitals and general surgeons indicates that your doctor is in good standing in his or her community of peers, and is recognized as a member of a larger medical team. Additionally, be sure to check with your state’s health department to make sure that your doctor’s surgical facility is properly certified and inspected by the appropriate governing body. Look for AAAASF, JCAHO or AAAHC certifications.

Who administers the anesthesia at the surgical facility?

In addition to checking your doctor’s credentials, you need to confirm that his assistants are certified, licensed and background checked. You should look for either a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) or a Board Certified Anesthesiologist.

“How many procedures of this type have you performed?”

Again, if you are looking for a particular type of procedure, such as breast augmentation or a tummy tuck, it’s reassuring to know that your surgeon specializes in these treatments and has performed them thousands of times. The more experience a surgeon has in your particular procedure, the more versed he or she will be in the nuances of the particular body area to be enhanced or refined, giving you more options to choose from in terms of technique and outcome. Also, you can check online to see the number of malpractice suits or claims against a certain doctor. It’s reasonable to assume that if a surgeon has been performing liposuction for a decade with no patient complaints, that their track record indicates future success.

“Am I a good candidate for this procedure?”

A good doctor will spend at least an hour with you in consultation, going over your medical history, surgical history, allergies, anatomy and expectations. By the end of this meeting, you should be well informed of all the risks and possible complications associated with your procedures, as well as all the alternatives. A conscientious doctor of integrity will always choose the path of least invasiveness to accomplish your goals, meaning they will not over operate or seek to correct flaws that don’t bother you. In other words, his or her primary goal is to make sure the procedure is right for you, and that you will be pleased with the results, not to upsell you on treatments you don’t need or want. If you feel pressured or manipulated in any way, it’s best to move on.

“What is your aesthetic sensibility?”

Beauty is subjective, therefore it is important to find a surgeon that shares your preferences and standards. The use of photographs cannot be understated. Look through the physician’s portfolio for patients who resemble you in body or facial type, weight, age and background to see if you like their results. Interview former patients to see how their results have held up over time. Take a lot of pictures of yourself from different angles and in different positions to let your doctor know how you want to look from the side, front or back. Ask your surgeon if he has a particular “signature” look. The best doctor is someone who customizes his work to the individual, yet maintains consistency in the quality and aesthetic appeal of the work.

Before & After

Take a gander at Dr. Capizzi’s before and after photos, giving you a visual representation of his stunning results.

“Do I feel a connection with this surgeon and his staff?”

In the end, you need to work with someone who sets you at ease and has an approachable, friendly and trustworthy bedside manner. After all, you are entrusting your body and face to this person, so it’s important to feel understood, respected and valued as a client. The same goes for the staff. These are the people that you are going to be relying on throughout your procedure. If they are cold, non-responsive or emotionally distant, it makes it difficult to feel comfortable and relaxed. A combination of friendliness, great customer service, skill and experience is the winning formula for a great patient experience.