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How to Choose a Surgeon for Breast Augmentation


Six steps to a safe, sensible, smart decision

The decision to undergo breast augmentation surgery is just the first of many decisions in the process. Very often, the next one will be selecting a surgeon to do the procedure – and there’s a very good chance this decision will be even tougher to make. In essence, you’ll be looking at the results of your decision each day.

The bottom line is that this is a search for objective information, and that requires a degree of research and knowing what to ask.

1. What are the surgeon’s credentials?

This almost seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a good place to start.

Legally, any doctor is permitted to perform any procedure. In the case of breast augmentation, it’s important for your surgeon to have graduated from an accredited medical school and residency training program and to be board certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery.

This certification indicates the surgeon has completed 3 – 5 years of training in general surgery, 2 – 3 years of training in plastic surgery, and completed a series of comprehensive oral and written exams. To maintain certification, there are additional continuing education and written exam requirements.

Surgeons very often have additional board certifications and are members of a variety of medical associations. Also, look for membership in state, regional and local medical societies. Here are a few more for your checklist:

  • American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons
  • American College of Surgeons

2. What is the surgeon’s record?

It’s also important to know if your surgeon has faced any investigations or malpractice lawsuits. This information can be found by contacting your state’s medical board.

3. Does the surgeon have hospital privileges?

Before a hospital grants privileges to a surgeon, it will determine whether or not the physician has the appropriate training and education to perform the requested procedures. Being allowed privileges is similar to receiving a stamp of approval. If the surgeon with whom you’re meeting doesn’t have any, inquire why (they might simply do all procedures at a dedicated surgical facility) and if the answer isn’t a good one, consider moving on to the next candidate on your list.

For example, a dermatologist would not be given hospital privileges to perform breast augmentation because they have not completed the necessary surgical training to be proficient in that procedure. Similarly, a gynecologist would not be given privileges to perform brain surgery. In this regard, cosmetic surgery is no different from any other type of surgery requiring very specific expertise.

4. Look at before and after photos.

Some surgeons will have before and after photos on their websites, while others will allow them to be viewed in their office. Either way, look at a lot of them so you gain a better understanding of the surgeon’s aesthetic. You want a surgeon whose aesthetic matches the look you’re going for.

5.  Is your surgeon active in the professional community and continuing education?

Look for signs that your surgeon is active in her or his surgical community and is staying up to date on the latest medical advances. Evidence of this is publishing papers in medical journals, giving talks at national and local meetings, and sitting on boards and committees of medical organizations.

6. Don’t forget word-of-mouth referrals.

Recommendations from family, friends, and friends of friends go a long way, especially those of former patients of the surgeon. If you have questions or concerns, share them and get the answers you need to feel comfortable.

7. Make a list of questions for the surgeon.

In addition to addressing the above items with a surgeon, it’s also a good idea to prepare a list of questions to bring to the consultation. One of the first questions: How often has the surgeon performed the procedure?

8.  How are you treated by the staff?

This is a telltale sign of the priorities of the plastic surgeon. The patient’s satisfaction, experience, and safety should be the highest priorities of the doctor and his or her entire office.

Is the staff kind to you? Are they dismissive of your questions or are your questions patiently answered? Do you feel rushed or pressured? The decision to have elective cosmetic surgery is important and you need to feel you are being heard, that your goals will be met, and that your safety is of the highest priority. If you do not get a “good vibe,” continue your search for your cosmetic surgeon.

Use objective information to make your decision

When it comes to choosing a surgeon, the decision is about more than how the doctor makes you feel. While that’s certainly important, objective information about a surgeon’s qualifications, experience, and aesthetic can help you make a safe and sensible decision – and one that leaves you extremely happy with the results.

At Pfeifer Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, we’re proud of our credentials and the work we do. Contact our office today to learn more about us, so we can provide you with the answers you need to make the right choice for you and your body. Click here to view our Real Patient Ratings.

Tracy Pfeifer, MD, MS, is a board-certified plastic surgeon, trained and experienced in the most advanced cosmetic surgical procedures available today. Dr. Pfeifer is board certified by both the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery, and she completed advanced training in Breast Surgery as a Fellow at the prestigious Institute of Reconstructive Breast Surgery in Atlanta, Georgia.

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