How to find a good plastic surgeon

Simply finding a plastic surgeon is easy. What is not easy is knowing how to find the best plastic surgeon for you. I realize that many readers do not live anywhere near Utah, where I practice. For you, let this be a (hopefully) unbiased guide to choosing your plastic surgeon. For those of you in Utah, I would love to have you as a patient but I will try not to make this a Dr. York Yates advertisement.

Start the process by looking in the right places.

  1. First and foremost (did I mention this is important), narrow your search by only looking at board certified plastic surgeons. It is unfortunate, but there are individuals whom are misleading and you need to ask two questions. First, “Are you board certified?”, followed by “Which board are you certified by?”. The second answer should only be the American Board of Plastic Surgery. To verify a physicians board status contact the American Board of Plastic Surgery at (215) 587-9322 or You may also contact the American Board of Medical Specialties at 1 (800) 776-2378 or
  2. Get on a few plastic surgeons websites. Get a feeling for the practice philosophy and the plastic surgeon as a person. Does it feel “business” or “personal”? Is the name of the practice the name of the physician or is it something else. Ask yourself do you want a relationship with a company or a person?
  3. Look at before and after photos
  4. Ask around. There are a number of venues for this including online forums and blogs. Find patients whom have seen plastic surgeons in your area and ask about their experience.

The next step is the consultation

  1. None of us are ever offended if a patient has scheduled a couple of consultations. Limit this number to 3 well chosen plastic surgeons and you will have better focus. You need to find the plastic surgeon who you like and trust.
  2. Trust your instincts, look out for salesmen. Don’t get up-sold for something you didn’t come in to discuss.
  3. Ask about the process of fixing a complication (unfortunately we all have them). Is there an additional charge?
  4. Did you spend the majority of the time with the plastic surgeon or an assistant? A personalized consultation leads to personalized results!
  5. Was there any pressure from the office staff?

A couple of red flags to watch out for

  1. Salesmen
  2. Pressure
  3. Statements such as “I am the best plastic surgeon in …”
  4. A hurried consultation. This surgery is very important to you and should be very important to the person you are entrusting yourself with.
  5. Aggressive advertising. Billboards, TV ads, newspaper ads … Some of these practices have few word of mouth referrals and NEED to advertise heavily to keep a patient flow. “a sucker is born every day”
  6. The term “cosmetic surgeon”. Many of these are not plastic surgeons at all.

In conclusion do your homework. Find a board certified plastic surgeon whom you like and trust. Board certification does not guarantee a favorable outcome but does guarantee adequate training and adherence to strict ethical and safety standards.

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