Advice to a Friend in Another City
Often, I receive requests from friends and family who live at a distance regarding “the best person to see for cosmetic surgery where I live.”
While I know many of the most sophisticated and specialized cosmetic surgeons in the U.S., I certainly don’t know all of them. After all, there are plastic surgeons, cosmetic surgeons, cosmetic facial surgeons, facial plastic surgeons, and dermatologic surgeons in every state. I can’t know them all.However, there are some basic principles that I can impart to these friends and family members, which hopefully will help them and expedite the process.
First, I always suggest that they read good, consumer-oriented books about cosmetic surgery, which often include valuable tips on the right way to do the “homework.” And homework is very important.
Obviously, two of my favorites are Secrets of a Cosmetic Surgeon, The Expert’s Guide to Safe Successful Surgery and The Essential Cosmetic Surgery Companion – Don’t Consult A Cosmetic Surgeon Without This Book!, both authored by yours truly.
For patients considering body work, I like The Beverly Hills Shape, The Truth About Plastic Surgery by Stuart A. Linder, MD, who practices just across the street. Dr. Linder is to the body what some of us are to the face: a superspecialist. His procedures are limited to the trunk and extremities. Obviously, he has great experience in the most common cosmetic-surgery procedure performed on the body — breast augmentation. In addition, of course, he is a pro at breast reduction, revision, liposuction, and the tummy tuck. Recently he has appeared with Dr. Oz on national television in a series of three segments, which included liposuction procedures for the “muffin top” of the abdomen, the “bra bulge” just under the armpit, and the saddlebags above the backsides of the thighs.
After you’ve boned up book-wise, I suggest visits to websites. Check out the doctors who have the thickest, most rich websites, and they should be loaded with before-and-after photographs. One, two, five, or ten is never enough. There should be hundreds of technically consistent photographic examples of the doctor’s work. You also need to study the doctor’s biography and see how much training he’s had and how specialized the training was. Look for doctors who have served cosmetic-surgery fellowships after they have already become board-certified specialists. Look for comments from patients that appear on the website, so you get a handle on how they perceive their care.
After you’ve narrowed your choice down to a few doctors, go for the consultation. A consultation without computer imaging, to show you the depicted result of your procedure, is not worth very much, in my opinion. You need to get a sense of what the doctor can do for you, and he needs to be comfortable that you would be satisfied with the result that he depicts. You also need to meet with the staff and see how attentive they are to your needs. Will they provide you all the support that you need before and after surgery? Does the practice provide supplies and medications that you require after surgery; having to stand in line at a drugstore the night after surgery is nobody’s idea of fun, particularly if the patient is in pain. The top practices handle everything for you. Does the practice provide arrangements for a stay in a professional facility after surgery if you’re coming from a far distance?
Finally, the practices that are the most specialized and the most sophisticated generally have a huge roster of former patients who will not only discuss their experience with you but would meet with you in person so you can see the results. That’s even better than the before-and-after photos.
It takes a lot of work, but like everything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. You want to do cosmetic surgery right the first time.
- Robert Kotler, MD, FACS