Monday, May 10, 2010

Who the best plastic/cosmetic surgeon for you?

Who is “the best?”
You’ve probably heard of quite a few cosmetic surgeons. Even if you don’t know their names, you certainly have read or heard about some of their famous patients. Think about the nips and tucks that have graced the headlines, like those of Michael Jackson, Lonnie Anderson, Tony Curtis, Phyllis Diller, and Linda Tripp. The list is way too long to include here!
How do some surgeons become famous? Are the famous ones the best? Not necessarily. Some surgeons are known for their famous patients. High-priced doctors can hire high-priced PR people to spread the word about them. In the city in or near which you live, there are locally famous surgeons, as well. They may be known for making the mayor’s wife look 20 years younger, or they may be great philanthropists, or even may be respected for reconstructive work they do for the people who could not otherwise afford surgery. They might even be known for their spectacular golf game!
The point is, like any other profession, individuals may get a reputation – good or bad – based on people talking about them, for whatever reason. The moral of the story? The famous doctor in question may indeed be the best. But don’t go by that alone – just because a doctor has operated on a celebrity or done something else that has started tongues wagging, does not necessarily mean he is the best surgeon to perform your procedure.
You can barely open any magazine these days without seeing the slick ads of cosmetic surgeons, all saying “I’m the best!” They certainly have a lot of confidence. That’s good – you want a surgeon who is sure of himself! But they can’t ALL be “the best.” How do you find out the truth? Do your homework, ask questions, and keep your eyes and ears open!
Some people ask whether they should travel out of their area or out of the country to have cosmetic surgery. If you live in a rural or remote area where there are no practicing or qualified cosmetic surgeons, the answer is, of course, to go to where you find the best surgeon for your needs. But chances are, especially with the boom in this field, there are good surgeons located near you. Many people are under the impression that to have the best surgeon and get the best care, they need to travel to a perceived cosmetic surgery “Mecca” like Los Angeles, New York, or even South America.
It’s true that in some places – like the movie capital of Los Angeles or the modeling hub of New York – there is high demand for cosmetic surgery and, therefore, doctors in these areas see more patients. That does not mean, however, that they are any more skilled or talented than surgeons practicing in your city. It’s also important to remember the added costs – in both money and time – that traveling will mean.
Similarly, some people believe great results can be guaranteed by paying a higher price. They may gravitate to the “elite,” higher priced doctors.
Sometimes, all that those higher prices mean is that the doctor has higher overhead, like a nice big office, on-site surgical suites, and lots of equipment. Or maybe he just bought a penthouse condo and a Mercedes convertible! I have come across doctors in various parts of the country who finance everything from racecars to yachts to private planes through their practice. This is not to say there’s anything inherently wrong with that – if someone is successful, he should reap the rewards of his labors – but as a patient advocate, it’s my role to tell you that higher price does not necessarily mean better results. Vice-versa, cut rates also don’t mean better value.