Whether you are already speaking with a surgeon or you are simply exploring the possibility of having a procedure performed, it can be a little confusing finding the right plastic surgeon and office for your needs. There is a tremendous amount of information out there for prospective patients, some of it good, and unfortunately, much of it either useless or even misleading. Here are just a few of my suggestions for finding the right plastic surgeon for your needs. Of course, this is not a comprehensive guide in your search for the right plastic surgeon, but hopefully it helps. Also, keep in mind I said “right” plastic surgeon. I didn’t say “the best plastic surgeon” or “the perfect plastic surgeon.” It’s because the latter two plastic surgeons don’t exist. What you should be looking for is the right fit for your needs, your expectations, and even your personality.
Where to find information… there are a lot of sources, but probably your best first stop would be www.RealSelf.com. I don’t have any financial interest in RealSelf.com. In fact, I pay them for my spotlights just like many surgeons. What RealSelf is is a largely non-biased place where a patient can go to find information. It not only reviews specific surgeons and photos and other evidence of their work, but it also has average ratings for specific procedures themselves. Whether it be a blepharoplasty and facelift (which involves a surgeon) or a device-based treatment like Ulthera or EmSculpt (which is non-surgical), there’s a satisfaction rating for that which comes directly from patients. Yes, Yelp.com as well as Facebook and Google have rating pages, but RealSelf is a good one-stop shop for information and physician performance reviews.
Who is your surgeon? Well, ask them. Every physician office should have both in the lobby and on their website their name and medical license number as it appears on the medical board database in that surgeon’s particular state. In my case, I have always gone by Chase Lay, but my California Medical Board website has me by my full legal name of Patrick Chase Lay, MD as it appears on my physician and surgeon’s license, number A112118; it’s in my lobby and on my website. In each state, you should be able to find the surgeon you are or may be working with to see if they have any documented history or issues the medical board is aware of. In California, you should be able to find your plastic surgeon or cosmetic physician at www.mbc.ca.gov.
What does your plastic surgeon do? Well, if you’re looking for something specific like a BBL treatment, or rhinoplasty or in my case (Chase Lay, MD) Asian eyelid surgery (a.k.a. double eyelid surgery), there should be A LOT of evidence showing they perform this procedure regularly. I have seen plastic surgeons post on their websites that they “do not post patient photos out of respect for their privacy.” Bullshit. I will tell you this indicates two things. One, they haven’t done it enough in shear case numbers to get the before and after photos. Or two, it’s bullshit; they simply don’t do it often, if at all. All plastic surgeons would like to showcase their work because they are proud of it and it shows prospective patients what we’re capable of. It is required that you have permission from patients to display their likeness and surgical results… and when they give us permission, we very often use it. It takes time to operate on enough patients who will allow you to use photos. No photos means the plastic surgeon likely hasn’t performed the case enough. Only a small portion of my patients allow us to show their face or eyes, it does take time.
Not only should there be plenty of before and after photos of the procedure you’re looking for, but there should also be other types of information from that plastic surgeon about the procedure they do well. This would include Youtube.com or Instagram or videos and photos, not just of a surgical result, but of the surgeon both performing the case and even explaining it in order to educate patients. It’s also a good sign to see that the plastic surgeon you’re interested in lectures or publishes articles about the procedure you’re interested in. Look for a good and updated CV or resume on the plastic surgeon’s website.
One step beyond the before and after photos (and the patient reviews) would be to look for content from that surgeon about evaluations of their own work. There are a few plastic surgeons out there who are great at what they do but also realistic. They talk about limitations in outcome, revisions, and complications, both in general and about their own cases.
Finally, consider personality and office culture. You can find good plastic surgeons, you can find charming plastic surgeons, and you can find kind/empathetic plastic surgeons. Don’t think you can always get it all in one person. In fact, usually, you can’t. So if you feel like you’re talking to the surgeon with the right skills but you simply don’t like this person or you feel they aren’t really listening to you as a person, be sure to get other consults. You may be visiting one of the best-known rhinoplasty surgeons in the world, but if you think this person is a jerk, or rude, or simply doesn’t hear you… you’ll always second guess yourself if something doesn’t go right. Complications can occur anywhere with any plastic surgeon. You at the very least want to know that the surgeon and their staff know you and care about you, for better or for worse, during your journey through your plastic surgery procedure.
Best of luck,
Chase Lay, MD