Choosing your surgeon.

It’s the most important decision you will make when planning to have a procedure. This is the person who will be operating on you.

So how do you choose the “right” surgeon for you?

There is no “best” surgeon. In every state in Australia there are very good surgeons, and frankly, there are some who are not as good. This is true in every walk of life and profession.

One of my friends says: “If you ask a plastic surgeon who the best three surgeons are, they will struggle to think of the other two”. While this is funny, there is a bit of truth to it – all us surgeons like to feel we are good at what we do, and it’s an important part of professionalism to feel on top of your game. We like to take pride in our quality and standards, as a profession.

So other than a surgeon, who can you ask for professional, impartial advice? Fortunately, there are many resources now which can help you to identify the surgeon or possible surgeons who would be a good match for you. From there it’s a matter of choosing the surgeon and practice you feel most comfortable with after you’ve done your research.

Let’s choose our surgeon

One of the first steps you can take towards a successful procedure is to become an educated consumer.

Firstly, make sure your surgeon is a real specialist plastic surgeon. Seems obvious, doesn’t it, but there are fakes out there, so beware.

Read about patient safety and how to make smart choices about your surgeon and the facilities where your procedure will be performed.

You can use a combination of the internet (reputable sources only please), reviews, word of mouth and advice from referring doctors to identify very competent surgeons who are good people, and that all you need to achieve a good outcome plus a satisfying experience.

Make a list, then a shortlist, and feel free to consult with more than one surgeon when you’ve narrowed down your choice.

Be sure to ask questions: It’s very important to ask your plastic surgeon questions about your procedure. It’s natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.

Your partnership with your plastic surgeon doesn’t end once your surgery is completed. The relationship you establish with your surgeon is one that will continue. While the results of many plastic surgical procedures are often permanent, there can be changes as you age or due to other circumstances. So make sure you like the surgeon and the practice.

Questions to ask

You and your plastic surgeon must be able to communicate openly and work together to achieve realistic goals. An understanding of your goals, expectations, and motivation is essential to a successful partnership between you and your surgeon. It will help both of you to determine whether plastic surgery is the right choice for you.

  • Are you a fully trained, AHPRA registered Australian Specialist Plastic Surgeon?
  • How many years of plastic surgery training have you had?
  • Do you have hospital privileges to perform this procedure?
  • If so, at which hospitals?
  • What is your scope of practice?
  • Which procedures does your practice focus on?
  • How many procedures of this type have you performed?
  • Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
  • Where and how will you perform my procedure?
  • What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
  • How will I recover?
  • How are complications handled?
  • What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the outcome of my surgery?
  • Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for the procedure and can we discuss what results are reasonable for me to expect?

Accredited Facilities

Professional plastic surgeons only use surgical facilities that meet established standards for quality and safety. Every patient is entitled to a safe and expert facility. In general, accreditation or the equivalent requires a facility to:

  • Allow surgery to be performed only by real, specialist accredited surgeons.
  • Provide anesthesia by a specialist anaesthetist.
  • Adhere to all local, state and national regulations including fire safety and building codes.
  • Adhere to all laws and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations including blood-borne pathogen and hazardous waste standards
  • Use and practice advanced monitoring for patient safety during surgery and immediate recovery.
  • Be regularly inspected and reaccredited for meeting the stringent Australian Quality Standards.

Tips and resources:

FRACS
If you are having plastic surgery in Australia, choose a real Australian FRACS specialist plastic surgeon who is a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgery. If they’re not on this list, they’re not likely to be a real Australia plastic surgeon.

Government register
Here is the Australian Government Public Medical Register. You can check your possible surgeon out to make sure they’re a real specialist, and have no medicolegal issues.