How to Choose Your Surgeon

As I have said many times before, the most important decision that you will make regarding your plastic surgery is determining how to choose a surgeon. The Internet has provided patients with a means to make more informed decisions and to take an active role in their medical care.

I would recommend starting research by making sure that your surgeon is actually a plastic surgeon, and not just someone who calls himself/herself one. There is no patent on the term “plastic surgeon,” so often, it’s used by health care providers in an untruthful, or deceiving, manner.

I would recommend that you visit with a plastic surgeon who is board certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery. By choosing a plastic surgeon that is certified by ABPS, you can be assured that the doctor has graduated from an accredited medical school and has completed at least five years of additional training as a resident surgeon. This includes a minimum three-year residency in an approved general surgery program and a minimum two-year residency in plastic surgery. To become certified, the doctor then must successfully complete comprehensive written and oral exams.

In my case, following medical school, I completed seven years of additional training as a resident surgeon and I have passed my written and oral exams. Only the American Board of Plastic Surgery can certify plastic surgeons. You can verify if your doctor is certified by visiting the website www.abms.org.

I also recommend that you consider only surgeons who are members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Membership in this organization ensures that your surgeon practices in an ethical and safe manner and requires continuing medical education study. You can verify your surgeon’s membership by going to the following website — www.plasticsurgery.org.

The next most important issue is the reputation of your surgeon. This is best determined by asking people around your community: your doctor, family, friends, and health care workers at local hospitals. Spending face-to-face time with your surgeon should allow you to come away knowing if they make you feel comfortable, confident, and trustworthy with your care.

— Robert Caridi, M.D.
Certified Plastic Surgeon
Founder of Westlake Plastic Surgery, providing plastic surgery in Austin, TX