Reality TV is often far from ‘reality’ but sometimes there is a kernel of significance in a portion of a show. In a recent episode of the ‘Real Housewives of New York City’, one of the women accompanies her friend to a plastic surgery consultation. During the show, she recommends and helps her friend to ask the plastic surgeon some important qualifying questions about liposuction in which she has interest. During the consultation, the women asked the plastic surgeon if he was board-certified and when, did he have operating privileges at a hospital for the procedure in question, and if he was a member of American Society of Plastic Surgery.
While these questions would no doubt bring acclaim for our national organization, these queries today can be answered long before you ever enter a plastic surgeon’s office. If you have to get these basic qualifying answers from a personal visit, you mustn’t have a computer in your house or have never ‘Googled’ or ‘Binged.’
Historically, patient’s were advised to ask a basic list of questions to their plastic surgeon to be certain they were qualified to perform the surgery. These included board certification and in what specialty, society membership and hospital privileges. While these are still good questions, they are so simple to find and don’t have the significance that they once did. If the plastic surgeon doesn’t have a contemporary website that easily provides this information, I would quickly move on to one that does. An informative website for a plastic surgeon, or any business for that matter, is an essential as any individual having a cell phone. If one isn’t investing in an internet forum for patient education, I doubt if they are investing much in advanced medical education either.
With today’s ease of information gathering, photo acquisition, and methods of presentation, contemporary plastic surgery qualifiers are much different and more defining. I believe these are the more relevant questions to search for in finding a qualified plastic surgeon. They include photographic demonstration, recent patient experiences, and educational information.
Photographic publication surrounds us at every corner today. Whether it is on Facebook or other social media, even the most basic cell phone can take a pretty good picture. Plastic surgeons are the most advanced and proficient of all medical specialities in photography on average. Therefore, one should come to expect a good demonstration of a plastic surgeon’s most valued asset, before and after patient photographs. While it is true that any business is going to put out its best results, at the least you need to see a handful of actual patient before and after photographs. The more, the better.
A past customer’s experience is a good barometer of service and results for any business. But a patient who had surgery a long time ago is not as useful as one who has had a surgical experience in the past weeks to months. Fresh experiences are what you need and preferably from more than just one patient. Having a recent patient also suggests that the procedure is performed more than just a few times a year.
Brochures and flyers are standard educational pieces in any plastic surgery practice. But there are so many boiler-plate pieces that are available to purchase for any plastic surgery procedure that they are not only unimaginative but provide generic (and often useless) information as well. What you want to see is customized practice information that provides detailed and meaningful procedure information that reflect’s what that plastic surgeon specifically does. You want to know what this plastic surgeon does, not what the ‘average’ plastic surgery approach is.
Dr. Barry Eppley