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2 Choosing Your Cosmetic Surgeon

There's an old expression which says, "The best way to judge a man is to meet his dog." If the individual in question happens to be a physician to whom you're entrusting your body, then this axiom would apply to his staff, his patients, his family, and anyone else who reflects his personality. If the people around him are unhappy or unhealthy, if they appear to be untrustworthy, cold, or rude, then this should give you a good indication of what the doctor is like. Another consideration is whether the doctor and his staff seem truly interested in their jobs. A doctor who loves what he's doing can help you feel more confident about your decision.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a physician of any kind, but your own emotional response is often the most reliable index of how safe you're going to be with this person. Because there are so many factors to consider, and because choosing the right doctor is such an important part of the surgical process, I've broken this chapter down into sections covering the most important elements. Your feelings will bring together all of these factors if you do your homework.

Each doctor's practice has a personality, and each doctor excels at something specific. Find out which procedure(s) the doctor performs most often, and if it's the one you're interested in, pursue it. Schedule a consultation with the doctor so that you can discuss the options and get answers to your questions. Do your research beforehand, so that you can ask the doctor "procedure specific" questions. Ask questions of the staff as well. You can find specific information about my practice and initial consultation in the Appendix section.

Your questions should explore not only his procedural experience, but also his patient demographics. Ask, for example, how many facial peels he's performed, how many of those patients were your age, with your skin type, or of similar ethnicity. Your questions should be increasingly specific about your unique needs and his ability to meet them. Ideally, you will choose the physician who has the most experience successfully performing the procedure on patients like yourself.

Most physicians have a few procedures in which they are the most experienced. A good place to start is with a doctor who specializes fulltime in cosmetic surgery. Some only perform a few types of surgery. These procedures (noses and liposuction in particular) have learning curves of up to 1,000 cases. The standing joke among surgeons is that the doctor should pay the patient for the first 100 nose surgeries he performs, then the patients can start paying the doctor. Experience is almost everything. A surgeon who also provides surgery for automobile accidents, hand surgery, or other procedures unrelated to cosmetic surgery, may not be what you are looking for.

On a personal note, once I needed to have hernia repair surgery. I decided to have it done through a flexible scope (endoscopic hernia repair), and I consulted three physicians, all of whom had performed several thousand cases. I chose the one who inspired the greatest measure of confidence. I suggest you follow this model, and choose someone who's had extensive experience in the exact procedure you want, and who you feel is right for you.

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