How I Found My Plastic Surgeon: Don't Rush It
Finding the right plastic surgeon is a lot like dating. You’ll likely have to consult with a few doctors —and maybe meet a frog or two along the way — before you find the best one for your cosmetic surgery.
So, how do you know when you've found the one? There are a few important factors. For starters, he or she must be board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, must have attended an accredited medical school, and must perform all procedures in an accredited or state-licensed surgical facility and operating room. What makes them the right doctor for you beyond professional accreditation is a bit more subjective. In this series, we ask real patients to share their surgeon-selection stories to help guide — and safeguard — your own cosmetic surgeon search.
The below interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Susan, 53, spent years getting to know her doctor via non-invasive procedures until she was finally ready to go under the knife.
My plastic surgeon and I had a slow courtship. About 10 years ago, I started to feel like my eyelids were sagging. And, while I knew surgery may be the answer down the road, I was determined to try the non-invasive route first to see if that would garner good-enough results. Thus, when I initially met my doctor, I asked her to give me BOTOX® to lift my brows — instead of going straight for a blepharoplasty (a.k.a. eyelid surgery).
I continued the non-invasive cosmetic procedure route for years and, over that time, really got to know my doctor. She, like me, was a busy, working mom with young kids, and she had a practical approach. She understood that I wasn’t trying to look younger or “good for my husband,” as one (male) doctor suggested to me when I visited him for a consult (next!).
About four years ago, I told her I thought we’d exhausted the non-invasive strategies and it was time to talk about surgical procedures. She agreed and began outlining what that would entail. She told me that we would only operate on my upper eyelids and that it would be a mistake to do the lower ones, too, because the shape of my eye would start to change.
I pushed back, but she held fast, and I now realize she was right. She told me she’d rather err on the side of doing less because we could always do another type of procedure later. But, if we did too much, too soon, there was no going back. I appreciated that sensibility. She also shared insight into how I could handle talking about the surgery with my children and how recovery would impact my ability to get back to work. She really got it.
I did talk to other doctors — including the one who said “your husband will be so happy with the way you look” (ugh) — but no one compared to her practical approach. And, having known her for years, I really did trust her with my face. So, she performed my eyelid lift, and it went very well.
I think my success story lies in the fact that I spent years getting to know my doctor and her staff. I trusted them before plastic surgery procedures were even a consideration for me. While not everyone may have the luxury of waiting that long, starting smaller (with a peel or facial or BOTOX®) can certainly help you get a better sense of a surgeon's office, aesthetic, and his or her team's professionalism before signing up for a specific procedure.
I also think it’s important that your personal sensibility syncs up with that of the doctor. In my case, we were both working women who strived to look refreshed and healthy — but not necessarily younger or "sexier" (yes, one board certified plastic surgeon really did use that adjective in my consult). Ultimately, I felt like my doctor approached my eye procedure the way she’d want to handle her own, and that was very reassuring.