Skip to main content
How to Choose the Right Facial Plastic Surgeon for You

You are listening to Health Library:

How to Choose the Right Facial Plastic Surgeon for You

Aug 28, 2019

If you're considering plastic surgery, choosing the right surgeon is the most important decision you can make. Plastic surgeon Dr. Cori Agarwal shares some tips to help you find the right surgeon and get the best results you want.

Episode Transcript

Announcer: Health information from experts supported by research. From University of Utah Health, this is

Interviewer: So you've decided to get some cosmetic surgery done. How do you know that your surgeon is really the right surgeon for you? We're here with Dr. Cori Agarwal. She is an associate professor of plastic surgery at University of Utah Health.

Finding a Reputable Surgeon

Dr. Agarwal, say I'm looking to find myself a cosmetic surgeon. What should I be looking for as a patient?

Dr. Agarwal: I think there are a number of factors. I think you want to make sure someone has good experience and that they have good results, and it's hard to do that as a consumer when you're looking at multiple websites and comparing them. I think it's very hard to tell who's actually qualified. And so we look towards board certification as something that you need to look towards and ask your doctor about.

Interviewer: I mean, the results must be kind of important in making a decision, but the actual board certification, what kinds of things should people be looking for? Is there like a certain gold stamp of approval for "These are the best surgeons"?

Dr. Agarwal: Well, it doesn't guarantee you're going to have an excellent result or an excellent surgeon, but it definitely . . . by being board certified in a recognized board, you know that these surgeons have had a basic training, a certain number of years of surgery, and graduated from an accredited medical school, and gone through safety training, and taken oral boards and written boards. It's very rigorous to be board certified in plastic surgery and board certified in facial plastic surgery.

And so you know that at least they've gone through the correct amount of training and I think you should feel much more safe. I think if you don't see that kind of board certification, it's just more of a question mark as to where they did their training and how much training they actually did.

Verifying your Surgeon's Qualifications

Interviewer: We were talking a little bit before. You said that there are certain certifications that don't really mean anything. They're just kind of buzz terms. What kind of things should people be looking out for?

Dr. Agarwal: There's a board of cosmetic surgery, and that's a board that is out there and people will put it on their website and advertise it, but it's not a recognized board by the American Board of Medical Specialties, which has been certifying all the medical specialties for a hundred years and it's the one that we look for.

So the cosmetic surgery board certification doesn't hold the same weight. It doesn't have the same requirements for medical school training, for surgery training and residency, and then the testing and maintenance of sort of the safety certification afterwards.

Interviewer: That seems a little . . . I mean, as a consumer, I would see cosmetic surgery board and just assume that, you know, it's solid, that that's a real, legitimate board. Are there any particular names of organizations or something that we should be looking for, that if you see that for a surgeon, you know they're going to have that experience, that certification?

Dr. Agarwal: Yeah, I think the easiest one is the American Board of Plastic Surgery. If you are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, nearly all of them will have the ASPS stamp on their website, American Society of Plastic Surgeons. So once you see that, you know for sure that they're certified.

There's also a facial plastic surgery certification that's equally good through training in otolaryngology. And so, if you see those as certifications, then you know that your surgeon has gone through appropriate training.

Building a Relationship with Your Surgeon

Interviewer: But it's not just that board certification. I mean, when you're talking about these types of results, they're something a little different than just a heart surgeon. What is it about plastic surgery, facial plastic surgery especially? What kind of relationship do you need to . . . as a consumer, how do you know that you have found the right surgeon?

Dr. Agarwal: Yeah, I think that's a really good point. I think there's something about a patient/doctor relationship, and I think you need to go in and meet your surgeon, talk to them about your goals, see if they listen to you, see if they see what you're looking for, and you seem to have a good eye to eye.

And I think one thing you can do is ask to see results. You can see before-and-after pictures that your surgeon may put on the website, or if not, then perhaps in the consultation they can show you some of their results from previous patients.

But I think it's making sure that this surgeon understands what you're looking for. They're not trying to push something on you. They're really listening to what your goals are for your desired surgery.

Questions to Ask Your Surgeon

Interviewer: So other than asking for, say, before-and-after results and making sure that they're listening, what kinds of questions should you ask on that first consult to kind of get a feeling if they're the right doctor for you?

Dr. Agarwal: You know, I think it depends a lot on what you're looking for. So if you're looking for rejuvenation versus rhinoplasty versus eyelids, there are going to be specific questions.

I think you should do some homework and do some reading about the type of surgery. You never want to Google too much about your surgery, but I think it does give you a little insight into the terminology and, you know, make sure that the surgeon seems to understand what you're looking for.

It's important for them to talk to you about risks of the surgery. I think you have to go into any surgery knowing that there are always some risks involved. And if the surgeon doesn't bring any of those up, you may want to ask them about that.

Interviewer: So do your homework. Do your homework and go to that consult with eyes wide open.

Dr. Agarwal: You know, one other thing that can be helpful is looking at reviews online. They're not always going to be great as resources because some people just want to vent or complain, and so it's hard to know if that's all legitimate, but I think it gives you a trend.

I think if you see a lot of positive reviews, or a lot of negative reviews alternatively, that does give you some insight. You have to be careful where these sources are coming from, but it's something that I think goes along with doing your homework about a surgeon.

Announcer: Have a question about a medical procedure? Want to learn more about a health condition? With over 2,000 interviews with our physicians and specialists, there's a pretty good chance you'll find what you want to know. Check it out at