If you ever consider having plastic surgery, qualifying the doctor is an important first step. Are they the right doctor for you and what you need? Many magazine articles and other sources will give you a list of good questions to ask when you have an in-office consultation such as (1) are they board-certified, (2) how many years have them been in practice, and (3) how many procedures of your interest have they done?
While these are certainly good questions and the answers are extremely relevant, such questions today can be answered long before you ever pull into the parking lot of the doctor’s office. If you walk in with these types of questions for your consultation, you must not have a computer in your house or have never done a Google search. It is hard to imagine that such a person exists today, except maybe my 95 year-old grandmother.
While these were once good questions for prospective patients to ask during an office visit, they have gone the way of the bag phone. Such answers are relatively easy to find at the click of a mouse from home. Whether we as plastic surgeon’s like it or not, our websites and the information that they provide is a lot more relevant to patients than any number of diplomas hanging on the wall. If a plastic surgeon doesn’t have an up-to-date website that easily provides this basic information, patients will quickly move on to another surgeon that does. Today’s internet-based society makes it essential that these once basic qualifying questions are easily answered with minimal research effort.
With today’s electronic informational access, photo and video acquisition, and numerous locations for postings, contemporary plastic surgery qualifiers are different and more meaningful. Today, the more relevant checklist in finding the right plastic surgeon for your needs is procedure education, photographic examples and patient testimonials.
Traditional office print pieces, such as brochures and flyers, are historic methods of education in every plastic surgery practice. While they are still useful, so many are tempate-derived that they provide generic and virtually useless information…other than to say this service is provided. You want to know what this specific plastic surgeon does, not what most plastic surgeons do. This has spilled over now into websites as well. They all look pretty but what about their content? Is it meaningly and relevant to your needs? Look for brochure and website information that provides current and updated procedure information. This also suggests an interest in ongoing patient education which is most manifest in some type of website blog.
We have image overload everyday. Whether it is on Facebook or on your cell phone, we are surrounded by pictures. Plastic surgeons are without question the most advanced and proficient of all medical specialities in taking pictures. Therefore, patients should expect a good demonstration of a plastic surgeon’s most valued asset, their before and after patient photographs. While it is true that the best results will be posted, at the least you need to see a handful of actual patient before and after photographs. The more, the better.
Patient testimonials carry a lot of weight. Who doesn’t want to hear about a happy patient when you are considering going to that plastic surgery practice. But don’t just rely on what is posted, ask to talk to at least one patient who has had your similar procedure. But a patient who had surgery a long time ago is not as useful as one who has had surgery in the past weeks to months. Fresh experiences are what you need as these patients have the best recall of what it was like right after surgery.. Having a recent patient also suggests that the procedure is performed more than just a few times a year.
Dr. Barry Eppley