The Price Of Beauty-10 Tips For Finding A Great Plastic Surgeon

What is the price of beauty? ABC News reported, the "price of vanity is $12.2 billion annually". That is the dollar amount Americans spent last year improving their appearances with the help of cosmetic surgery, wrinkle fillers, facelifts, fat suctioning and other aesthetic options." My background as a Cosmetic Surgery Consultant has given me the opportunity to consult with patients from around the globe about various surgeries and treatments.  Working in Plastic Surgery and medical spas for many years has taught me quite a few tricks of the trade. I would like to share some of those tips with anyone who may be interested in undergoing Cosmetic Surgery.

It should be emphasized there is much importance in being diligent in your research before deciding upon any cosmetic procedure, including aesthetic treatments (Botox, fillers, lasers, injectables, RF, Ultrasonic, etc).  Before choosing just any surgeon or medical staff (Aesthetic R.N./N.P./P.A.), it is imperative that one becomes an informed consumer. Although, it is understandable how lower price may be appealing to some, especially in a market of "Daily Deals" and "Groupons", I can assure you, you get what you pay for. There are some exceptions to this rule, it may be acceptable to cash in on a deal for less invasive cosmetic treatments but even these decisions have risks. In my opinion, under no circumstances should one "go under the knife" with the idea of finding the best deal. 

In my years of experience, I have witnessed my fair share of cosmetic surgeries gone wrong. In some cases, the damage inflicted due to poor choice in technician or surgeon is irreversible.  I have witnessed the aftermath of individuals who have become disfigured or permanently damaged, due to price-shopping for the cheapest "deal" (and ultimately the cheapest clinician). How can you avoid a bad outcome? First and foremost, if a price is too good to be true or well below the average procedural costs in your market, my one word of advice is, "RUN"!

For the sake of keeping this post relatively succinct, I am going to focus on tips on choosing a qualified surgeon. In a subsequent blog, I will cover ways to choose other trained medical staff for less invasive treatments. And yes, choosing well-trained medical staff for your less invasive treatments is equally as important as choosing a excellent Plastic Surgeon.

10 Tips For Finding A Great Plastic Surgeon

1. Never make your decision solely on price.

2. Ask for recommendations from those who may have knowledge on the subject, for example; friends, family members, or trusted professionals (hairdresser/esthetician/etc).

3. Be wary of having cosmetic surgery abroad. I have seen many disfigured patients due to surgeries performed in other countries. When you choose to have procedure(s) done in another country, you are giving up many if not all of your rights as a patient. 

4. Have an idea of your market average. Call cosmetic or plastic surgery clinics to determine pricing.  It is most ideal for a surgeon to examine you to give more accurate procedural costs, however, there is a way around this, in most cases insist on pricing being a determining factor for you. For instance, communicate your choice is centered around your budget, and since the market can greatly vary in price, it is best to know if their office will be the best fit for you and your pocketbook. In this instance, in an effort to not waste their time or yours pricing may be provided.

5.  Research and meet with your selected doctors.  Go on at least 3 consultations before you settle on your decision.

Suggestions to come prepared for your consultations:
*Bring a list of any medications you are currently taking (if applicable).
*Bring photos of a desired outcome post surgery.
*Take a pen and notebook with you, especially if you are meeting with several surgeons.
*If you are married, take your spouse to the consultation. You will want him/her to feel comfortable and be supportive of your decision to have surgery too. 
*If you are not married, take a friend, it will make the experience less intimidating. Or if you feel comfortable enough and want to go alone, please do. Do whatever will make you most comfortable.

Suggested questions to ask:
  1. What are his/her credentials? 
  2. What board certification(s) does he/she currently hold? 
  3. How many years has he/she practiced cosmetic surgery?
  4. Ask to see before and after photos. 
  5. Ask about volume (ex: How many procedures does he/she do on average annually?)
  6. How does their office handle dissatisfied patients? (ex: do they offer refunds (almost never happens), do they offer to fix the problem at no cost to you, or will you be paying more for revisions (the likely scenario). If you do pay for revisions--what will be your out of pocket expenses?
  7. Ask if he/she has any pending or past malpractice lawsuits.
  8. What is the expected recovery time of your chosen procedure(s)?
  9. If it is not provided to you at the end of your consultation, ask for all quoted prices in writing.
  10. Ask how long will the quote will be valid.
  11. What is the surgical deposit amount? How and when are the remaining costs collected?
  12. Are any lab test or clearances required for your procedure, if so, are those costs included in your total or will they be additional costs?
  13. Which prescriptions will you need to take for your procedure? 
  14. Will the procedure take place in a hospital, surgery center or private surgical suite?
  15. If the procedure will be handled in a private surgical suite, ask if the facility is accredited by the state for surgical procedures? For further information on this subject, click here.
6. Know the difference between a "Cosmetic Surgeon" and "Plastic Surgeon"-Determine if you are willing to compromise in the difference between the two (Ex: An ophthalmologist may legally practice "Cosmetic Surgery", although in most cases they are more specifically trained in Oculo-Plastic surgery or surgery of the eye area). In my opinion, this surgeon would be a great choice for a procedure such as Blephorplasty, but I would not choose this Surgeon to perform a breast augmentation.           
7. Trust your instincts. If you have any uncertainty or if you don't mesh well with a Surgeon, never go against your better judgment.

8. Once you have narrowed your selection of Surgeons, do your homework.
A. Ask to speak with a previous patients or see pictures of patients who have undergone your chosen procedure(s).

B. Check online reviews -Although some doctors have wised up to the importance of a positive online presence and in some cases they have hired Doctor Reputation Management firms to delete negative reviews and even create fake positive reviews. Keep in mind online reviews are not always 100% reliable or authentic.

C. Check into the validity of credentials, board certifications and training.

D. Check to see if your chosen doctor has any pending/past lawsuits. You may look into this by contacting the following:
I. County clerk's office in the area of practice
II. State medical licensing board
III. National Practitioner Data Bank

9. If your procedure has considerable downtime, be sure to plan ahead.  Go grocery shopping and pick up any needed items prior to your surgery. Be sure you pick up your prescriptions before surgery too. Check with your Surgeon's Surgery Coordinator for a list of any needs items post surgery (ex: support/compression garments, healing ointments,  approved supplements, etc). 

10. It's normal to be nervous the days leading up to surgery. In my Surgery Coordinating experience, I have noticed most patients experienced surgery jitters the days leading up to their surgery date. If you have followed the above guidelines, trust you have made the best decision and you will be in good hands.

Please feel free to email me if you have any additional questions at


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