For millennials like me, plastic surgery is no longer a taboo subject. We openly talk about repairing, improving and enhancing our bodies through surgery, and for most of us, the decision to get something nipped or tucked is a personal choice that isn’t judged too harshly. Many of my friends have undergone successful breast augmentations, rhinoplasties, vaginal rejuvenations and smaller cosmetic procedures like the injection of Botox or fillers. It’s not surprising to me that the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that 15.6 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2014, a three percent increase from 2013.
If you’re considering getting plastic surgery, don’t go to just any surgeon! Here are five tips for finding a plastic surgeon that will deliver the results you want without risking your health.
1. Make sure the surgeon is board-certified
It’s a little-known fact that any physician with a medical license, without training, can legally perform cosmetic surgeries. This means a gynecologist or pediatrician could legally perform a cosmetic surgery! The first step in finding a great plastic surgeon is to make sure he or she is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. There are plenty of other organizations that offer certifications, so don’t be fooled if a surgeon claims he is certified by another board.
Enter the information of the surgeon into the American Board of Plastic Surgery’s online verification form to make sure he or she is certified.
2. Be aware of common red flags
Generally, beware of surgeons who offer to perform multiple surgeries at once or who try to upsell you into getting additional surgeries or who use negative language about your body during a consultation. A reputable surgeon will maintain a professional manner during your consultation. If you feel disrespected or pressured to have procedures you didn’t inquire about, leave.
Dr. Malcolm Z. Roth and Dr. Anthony Youn of the American Board of Plastic Surgery also warn against doctors who offer discount coupons, advertise heavily or lack hospital privileges.
3. Research the surgeon’s board record
Even board-certified plastic surgeons can be terrible at their job, so make sure you research the surgeon’s record to learn about any past or current complaints or malpractice lawsuits. You can usually get this information by contacting your state medical board.
If a surgeon you are considering has a lawsuit on his or her record, keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the claim was legitimate. It might be a good idea to talk to the doctor about the claim and get more details — plastic surgery can be emotional for patients, and sometimes claims are raised unfairly.
4. Come prepared with the right questions
When you go to your consultation, there are some questions you should ask to get a better idea of the skill level and experience of the surgeon you are considering for your procedure. If the surgeon seems flustered or irritated by these questions, it’s probably better to play it safe and choose another doctor.
Dr. Joseph Berardi, founder of theplasticsurgeon.org, recommends that before choosing a surgeon you always ask, at the bare minimum, how many times the surgeon has performed your procedure, who will be assisting with your procedure and where your surgery be performed.
These types of questions will give you a better idea of if the surgeon actually specializes in the procedure you want, who else will be involved in your surgery who you might also want to check the credentials of before proceeding, and if it will be possible to get emergency care if you should need it during your surgery.
5. Ask for recommendations
While it’s necessary to check up on a surgeon’s credentials, history and reputation, asking friends who have had successful procedures for a recommendation can also be a great way to find a plastic surgeon. Everyone has different preferences, so if you like the work a surgeon has done on a friend or relative, you will be more likely to like your results if you visit that doctor as well. Also look at before-and-after photos to find an example of your ideal procedure outcome.
Always remember that your body is unique, and a procedure that looks amazing on a friend or in a before-and-after photo might not translate as well on your body. A great surgeon will give you a realistic assessment of what he or she can do and, more importantly, what he or she can’t do.
One of the great things about the growing acceptance of plastic surgery is that it increases the chances of having an honest conversation about the risks that can be associated with such procedures if they are performed by an unskilled or *shudder* unlicensed surgeon. Shows like Botched, which depict disfiguring, self-esteem shattering plastic surgery mistakes, have made us very aware that finding a certified, experienced plastic surgeon is important if we choose to go under the knife. If you’re looking for a reputable plastic surgeon, make sure to consider these five tips for finding a doctor that will make sure you stay safe and healthy during your procedure.