Not every potential patient considering plastic surgery has the luxury of a personal referral from a friend or relative to a plastic surgeon who has done a good job before. Choosing your surgeon without a reference, especially choosing one over the internet, can be difficult.
One wants to choose not just a surgeon with good hands, skill and judgement, but also someone who is kind, compassionate and caring. You want someone who can communicate clearly and who is available especially if something goes wrong. While all surgeons may experience complications from time to time, you want to choose someone who has been around long enough to know what steps are required to avoid these complications and how to manage them efficiently if they do occur.
When you meet with the surgeon you want to get the impression that he or she has a depth of experience and knowledge and that you will be operated on using tried and tested techniques that they have performed many times over. This is why I restrict myself to a few operations which I believe I do well. If I am going to do something new, it is usually a progression from something that I have been doing previously, not a radical change, and I will be very upfront with you about this. Obviously new things do come along and one wants to stay current, but usually these new things are small improvements on well known operations.
Be wary of before and after pictures. Many surgeons will show you only their best and avoid showing you their average results. I try to match my current patient (your photographs) to some past similar patient so that you can get a good idea of what is likely to be achieved. I also like to show you a range of photographs of both good and bad results.
While costs of surgery are certainly an issue for a lot of people, they should not be the only criterion you base your decision on. There are many general practitioners and specialists from other fields now offering cosmetic surgery. They are climbing on the cosmetic surgery ‘bandwagon’. To be competitive, these people offer bargain-basement, cheap surgery, but often the costs come later and certainly part of my work is fixing some of these problems later on. Often the skills of these people lie in sales rather than surgery. Beware!
While companies which will organise everything for you may seem like an advantage since they take care of transport arrangements, accommodation, surgery and tours after surgery, be aware that you will be dealing with what is an unregulated group of companies that exist purely for the profit motive and in the long run, in my opinion, they offer no advantage over dealing with the surgeon directly. I have heard about a number of cases where there have been big problems with these companies both from the patient’s and surgeon’s side. Some of these have been reported in the press.