Oh how I wish there were some secret, fool-proof formul for choosing a plastic surgeon! Sure, there are recommended guidelines and what not but there really is no infallible method to choosing a surgeon that will guarantee your absolute post-operative satisfaction. So many variables can alter an end result: your own expectations, pre-existing physical attributes, doctor-patient communication, the skill of the surgeon, your health and ability to heal, your post-operative care, and the errant complication that may arise. That being said, you can most definitely take action on your part to help improve your odds in having a successful surgery.
As for how I chose my surgeon? I started thinking about breast augmentation in 1997 and finally had my surgery in June of 1998. I was actually pretty lucky my first time out. I basically picked a few names out of the yellow pages and met with the first one and canceled my consultations afterwards. By chance, I had stumbled across a doctor that performed trans-umbilical breast augmentation (TUBA) which is where they place your implants through your navel. I was sold on my surgeon from the beginning. He was about 25 minutes away from me and had his own out-patient facility (I have never had surgery in a hospital and I am thankful for it). He was not, however, a board certified plastic surgeon; he was considered a cosmetic surgeon. Now, this is where I say do as I say, not as I do. Granted, I came out fine, but the chances for success are better if you obtain several opinions by going on several consultations and for many the gold standard calls for a board certified plastic surgeon. The fact of the matter is, you cannot make a truly informed choice, if you only have one option to choose from. Having one consultation doesn’t constitute having a choice per se. Like I said, I was lucky, and all went well—more than well actually.
Choosing my second surgeon was a little different, a little out of the ‘norm’ if you will. I was shooting a documentary and for the amount of surgery (and type), the facility needed, and the call for other criteria, I needed a special surgeon. I knew one that I had been in contact with for a while and I knew of his training, skill, and experience. He agreed to the documentary and that was the end of that. There really were only a few surgeons who met the skill/experience criteria and in the end it the deciding factor was about time and location. Even with the complications I had had, my luck was still a factor. He was a good surgeon, he was board certified, and he had many years of experience, was open to my suggestions, and gave me a lot of time to
On the third surgery, I needed an explant and a lift and I needed someone who was very skilled, competent and that is all that mattered. I didn’t care about location, money, or anything. My friend (another plastic surgeon) had had a breast augmentation redo and breast lift by him and I loved her results. I waited until she was well healed before finally scheduling my consultation. Luckily he was in my area, board certified, had his own facility and very easy to talk to. I had seen several of his patients’ results before ever scheduling so I felt even more at ease with my decision. He wasn’t cheap though. But, like I said, I wasn’t looking for a bargain. Not that my other surgeons were inexpensive!
Now, looking for my fourth surgeon…Ideally I would like to go to Dr De Wire in Virginia because of his expertise in placing the implants completely under the muscle (utilizing the pectoralis muscles, the serratus anterior muscles, and the abdominal rectus muscles). He also had a lot of experience with Benelli lifts, raising the breast crease, reducing the size of the pocket and revision breast augmentation in general. Over the years, I have always heard so many great things about his revision cases from the ladies at breastaugmentation4you.com. He is board certified in plastic surgery, highly skilled and his fees are very reasonable. Hopefully he will take my case very soon. In short he is my ideal surgeon for MY case. He meets all of my personal criteria and actually feel I would be fortunate if he were to perform my surgery.
General Guidelines in Choosing a Breast Augmentation Surgeon
- Medical Licensure: Check if your surgeon’s license is still valid. You may do this by visiting your state’s medical licensure website.
- Boards Certification: Be sure your plastic surgeon is board certified in Plastic Surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Although this is not the end all, be all and does NOT determine if your surgeon has skill, many feel that this is a must. Being board certified won’t guarantee your surgery as a success but it will guarantee your surgeon has earned his or her degree from an accredited medical school. Your surgeon must also have completed 3 years of general surgery, completed a 2 year residency in plastic surgery, must be in practice for 2 years, and then must pass oral and written exams from the ABPS.
- Disciplinary Actions and Lawsuits. The Internet, and public information, allows us to delve into the depths of the legal system. With a little work, you can check how many lawsuits a surgeon has, or if he has been disciplined by the state.
- Word of Mouth is an excellent tool. Words gets around if a surgeon is a god one (or a not so god one). Open your eyes and ears, scour the Internet, ask around your social circles, ask your general practitioner, etc.
- Communication: You must have good communication with your surgeon. If you do not, you may not realize you both have different ideas about what it is that looks good. Bringing photos of what you like and do not like is a great tool, or hopefully your surgeon has computer imaging software. It is imperative that you both understand one another.
- View your surgeon’s before and after photos. This can give you an idea of his skill.
This isn’t exact science, but it can help you on your way with having a positive outcome. Learn from others who have been through this surgery. Experience is the best teacher, and although your cases may not be similar, it is still breast surgery. Plus it is always nice to speak with others who are going (or who have gone) through what you are. Good luck! And don’t rush into your surgery. Being prepared is half the battle.