Mistakes to Avoid When You Choose a Plastic Surgeon

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Choosing a plastic or facial plastic surgeon can be a challenging task.  Most people don’t feel qualified to examine a surgeon’s credentials.  Available public records are limited.  So, unless you have friends who have used a certain facial plastic surgeon with good results, it can feel hard to determine which specialist to choose.  Unfortunately, there are mistakes people sometimes make when selecting a plastic surgeon.  We’ll discuss some strategies to avoid and end by outlining some that can really work well.

Common shortcuts that won’t help you effectively choose a plastic surgeon

Dr. Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize for inventing behavioral economics.  His research revealed that people often use shortcuts to make decisions.  That’s especially true when they don’t feel qualified in a particular area or if they don’t have enough time to thoroughly research the facts.  For instance, you can quickly look at the ingredients on the back of a cereal box to check fat, sugar, and vitamin levels.  But would you feel qualified to determine the best mix of stocks and bonds (and the right ones) in which to invest your 401-K?  Most of us would have to use a mutual fund manager and employ decision shortcuts to choose which one, like past performance, total money invested, and good ratings from others whose situation is like ours.

Some shortcuts can serve us well, helping us make good decisions when time and available information is limited.  But some shortcuts don’t work well.  If we rely on them, we can end up getting a bad deal or missing out on a good one.

Mistake #1 – Choosing a Plastic Surgeon Based on their Location

Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, Beverly Hills facial plastic surgeon, Beverly Hills facelift, choose a plastic surgeonThis is a classic mistake – choosing a plastic surgeon because they’re located in an area with lots of famous plastic surgeons.  Many people seem to feel, for instance, that because Beverly Hills has some talented plastic surgeons, a surgeon located in Beverly Hills must be better.  That’s just not accurate.  Location doesn’t impart surgical skill.  Good training and lots of experience usually does.

It’s remarkable, though, how often people assume medical knowledge and ability only come from areas known for great medicine and surgery.  As Stanford University’s Chip Heath and Duke University’s Dan Heath related in their bestseller, Made to Stick, in the 1980s medical researchers Barry Marshall and Robin Warren discovered a key reason people got digestive ulcers.  This was a huge discovery, because hundreds of millions were plagued by ulcers and doctors had little idea how to cure them.  Marshall and Warren discovered that nearly all ulcer patients they examined were infected with H. pylori bacteria.

They presented their research at medical conferences, but almost no one took them seriously.  Medical journals declined to publish their study.  There wasn’t anything wrong with their research methods.  But Dr. Robin Warren was a staff pathologist at a hospital in Perth, Australia.  Dr. Barry Marshall was an intern there.  Great breakthroughs in gastroenterology just did not come from pathologists and interns – and certainly not from Perth, Australia.  So, their important work continued to be ignored.

Nobel Prize for Medicine
Nobel Prize for Medicine CC BY-SA 2.0 Deed

Finally, Marshall downed a glass of water laced with H. pylori bacteria and documented how his previously healthy stomach lining suddenly became painful, red, and inflamed.  Then he cured himself with a course of antibiotics and bismuth (the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol).  At last, other researchers took notice, conducted their own studies, and confirmed that H. pylori infections are a major cause of stomach ulcers.  In 2005, Robin Warren and Barry Marshall received the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

Outstanding medicine is often performed in less-than-famous places.  Plastic and facial plastic surgeons in locations other than cosmetic surgery meccas like Beverly Hills and Manhattan can get excellent results for their patients.  They often have one big problem in common when patients take shortcuts:  They don’t charge exorbitant fees.

Mistake #2:  Choosing a Plastic Surgeon Because They Charge High Prices

We’ve probably all used the price shortcut at times:  If something costs more, it must be better.  As I outlined in “Facelift Abroad – Are the Savings Worth the Risks?” a more expensive facelift in the U.S. is certainly safer and often better than a cheaper one overseas.  However, if you’re getting a facelift or other plastic surgery procedure in the United States, Western Europe, or Japan (for instance), a costlier procedure is not necessarily better.

There are highly competent plastic surgeons who get great results for their patients practicing in places not known for plastic surgery.  Don’t penalize them because they charge you less.

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Great furnishings don’t guarantee a great facelift

In facelift meccas like Beverly Hills and Manhattan, rents and labor costs are higher.  You can pay more without getting better results.  Similarly, surgeons with lavish offices give the impression that they’re more successful and therefore better surgeons.  But great-looking offices don’t produce great-looking patients.  Well-trained, skilled, and highly experienced surgeons do.

One auto manufacturer spends less on advertising and more on engineering than its competitors.  Whose car would you rather drive?  Surgeons whose office furnishings are outdated may spend less there because they’re getting poorer results and generating less revenue.  Or they could be investing more in newer and better surgical equipment.  And hiring more qualified staff.  Better people and equipment help patients get better care.  Wouldn’t you prefer that over new office furniture?

Mistake #3:  Drawing wrong conclusions by misinterpreting appearances 

It’s an established fact that people judge based on appearances.  That’s probably one big reason you’re considering a facelift or other plastic surgery.  However, it’s important not to draw the wrong conclusions based on what you see.

For instance, everyone considering a procedure should look at a surgeon’s Before and After photos.  Some feel, though, that if many of the pictures depict older patients, the surgeon won’t get good results with younger ones.  That conclusion ignores one important fact:  Surgeons can only show photos of people who agreed to let their pictures be shown.  Younger people frequently don’t want workmates and friends to know they had a procedure.  Older people often don’t care.  Thus, a surgeon can get outstanding results for patients, younger and older.  But they can look like they only have older patients because they’re the only ones who signed photo releases.

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Before and one week After Deep Plane Facelift by Dr. Brian Machida, MD, FACS. Dramatic improvement, including in cheeks and nasolabial folds, is seen while patient is still healing.

Similarly, some patients feel that surgeons whose operating rooms are crowded with equipment are of less value than doctors with more streamlined surroundings.  But if you need that equipment to get a better procedure, you’ll be glad it’s there.  Even if it makes the OR look a bit cluttered.

Choose a Facial Plastic Surgeon the Smart Way 

You can rarely choose a car, or a marriage mate based on a few quick shortcuts.  It’s the same with plastic or facial plastic surgeons.  Take the time to investigate the surgeon who’s going to change your appearance.  Are they board-certified in plastic or facial plastic surgery?  How many of the procedures you need have they performed over their careers?  How long ago did they do them?  Do their Before and After photos display good results for your type of surgery?  Do they have many good reviews?

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Before and After SMAS facelift and neck lift by Dr. Brian Machida

Take the time to make a wise decision when choosing a facial plastic or plastic surgeon.  You might just get great results and save some money.  If you need a facelift in Inland Empire and don’t mind a facial plastic surgeon with extensive experience who charges lower fees and invests in a great staff and newer equipment but has older furniture, come see me for a free consultation at STC Plastic Surgery in Ontario.

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About Dr. Brian Machida, MD, FACS

Dr. Brian K. Machida, MD, FACS is a double board certified facial plastic surgeon. He has an exceptional level of experience, having performed ( read more )

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