Finding Dr. Right

Mar 01, 2008, 5:00am

Finding the right doctor for your procedure or surgery is the first step in the process.

Key Points

So, you've decided that it's time to change your look. Maybe you just want something simple - a little Botox to slow the look of the years. Or maybe you want something a little more substantial. Whatever your situation, one of the first - and most important - things you need to do is select your surgeon. That should be simple enough, right? Not so fast. You don't rush into surgery, so don't rush into choosing who will do the surgery.

Michael Kluska, D.O., F.A.A.C.S., F.A.C.O.S., a board-certified plastic/reconstructive and general surgeon with the Center for Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery, Greensburg, Pa., says, "Patients must educate themselves on the available products, but also on the available physicians." And it should be by simply letting your fingers do the walking. Dr. Kluska advises that potential patients first research the products and/or procedures available for the cosmetic concerns they want to address. "Whether it is Botox or a facelift surgery, go to the Internet and explore all of the available information," he recommends. Make yourself an educated consumer. Once you feel comfortable that you have a good idea of the kind of procedure (or procedures) in which you are interested, you need to find someone to take the best possible care of you - and help ensure the best possible results.

Asking friends and associates who have undergone cosmetic procedures who they recommend is one step that you could take, but not everyone is comfortable going that route. So, if you're embarking on your own search, here are some important pointers. Physician credentials are key; don't be fooled by a fancy ad in the paper or a pretty TV commercial. Dig deeper. Dr. Kluska says that today, many physicians in nonsurgical areas are hanging out cosmetic shingles. Be sure that the physician you select is suitably qualified by checking that he or she is board-certified in plastic or cosmetic surgery.

Board certification indicates that the physician has successfully completed specialized training and meets specific qualifying criteria to perform surgery.

Another good idea is to check your physician candidate's hospital privileges, Dr. Kluska says. "An easy way to differentiate the impostors is to find out if they have hospital privileges to perform the cosmetic surgery that you are interested in," he says.

"Most hospitals will not give hospital surgical privileges unless the physician is board-certified in the specific surgical specialty that he or she is offering to the public," he says. OK, you've done your homework and have found a board-certified surgeon - preferably, several - who is experienced and comes well-recommended by people you've asked.

Is your research over? Nope. There's another very important component you need to consider, and if it's not there, you need to continue your search.

It's quite simple: Meet the surgeon. Actually, it's best to meet several, so you can compare and contrast. With each doctor, ask yourself, do you like him or her? Do you feel that your personalities mesh well? Do you connect?

Dr. Kluska notes, "Most plastic surgeons are similarly trained, but it's their personality that you also have to deal with. After all, if you are committing to a procedure or service, you will undoubtedly be spending a lot of time with them. For this reason, establishing a rapport with your physician is an essential step in achieving a positive outcome."

In the end, remember: You are hiring the physician. So research his or her credentials, education, certification and background, and check your rapport before you decide to commit to the relationship. Then put a good face to the world!