Updated November 2018
- Check for plastic surgeon's board certification and state licensure, not one or the other.
- A surgeon who specializes in your particular breast augmentation type will give you better results.
- During your consultation, ask whether he teaches, speaks, or writes about breast augmentation. This will tell you if he's up-to-date on techniques.
There's no shortage of plastic surgeons to do your breast augmentation. The problem is they aren't all qualified and women not equipped to see past price or the fanfare of online reviews and poster-board patients risk getting breast enhancements by people who, in fact, aren't skilled.
Lack of surgical competency is a leading cause of breast distortion, post-surgical complications and, ultimately, patient dissatisfaction. So, we've pulled from expert surgeons and societies to find the steps they say you should take to find a good plastic surgeon.
7 insider tips to find a good plastic surgeon for your breast augmentation
Websites and online flipbooks are surface level and don't give you deep enough insight into your surgeon's qualifications or whether he'll be able to produce the same results for you. Experts say you need to do some major digging and gathering of facts before you sign off. Here's how to do it.
1. Make sure your breast implant surgeon is board certified
If you want a qualified breast implant surgeon, start with verifying his board certification. Go to the ABPS website and register for a free account. You'll be able to search for your surgeon there. "The absence of your surgeon’s name likely means that person is not a fully trained and board-certified surgeon," warned Vanek Plastic Surgery in our Q&A forum. "This is not a trivial oversight."
Having your breast augmentation performed by a surgeon who is not board certified puts you at serious risk for complications like infection, breast necrosis (tissue death), capsular contracture, breast implant extrusion, breast disfigurement, and bottoming out. You could then be looking at breast implant removal and breast revision surgery.
Even then, "it's difficult, and sometimes impossible, to fix a surgery that's gone wrong," according to Dr. George Weston in the article "Eight Secrets Plastic Surgeons Only Tell Their Friends." So that's a second surgery, another expense, and no guarantees.
A qualified board-certified plastic surgeon:
- Has gone through rigorous testing
- Has documented a significant number of his surgical cases to prove wide experience
- Performs more than 100 breast augmentations per year,
- Attends continuing medical education courses to stay current in his field
- Maintains hospital privileges
- Has a gleaming record of conduct and performance
This is what certification from the respected American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) requires of its members. The Board is the governing body that has educated, trained, assessed, and certified surgeons' abilities to perform plastic surgery to the highest standards for more than 80 years.
2. Check your breast augmentation surgeon's conduct
You wouldn't want a breast implant surgeon who had malpractice suits, hospital disciplinary actions, suspensions, or malpractice suits. But how would you know if you didn't look into his conduct?
A plastic surgeon who has been charged with too many misconducts is subject to lose his license to practice. So don't just verify your plastic surgeon's board certification, you should make sure he is licensed to practice surgery in your state.
Go to your state's medical board and do a free online search. Verify active licensure and any disciplinary action that may have been taken against him. Many states also include information such as educational background, insurance information, honors and awards, academic appointments, legal actions, and paid settlements. If your surgeon has practiced in other states, you'll need to check their boards as well.
Remember not to settle for just licensure and no board certification. Licensure permits someone to provide the public any medical or surgical service he wishes. This means his specialty can be in family practice but because he is licensed he can perform your breast augmentation.
3. Verify your plastic surgeon has hospital privileges
You will need to find out if your breast augmentation surgeon has hospital privileges. This is especially important if you are having surgery in an outpatient center or in your surgeon's surgical suite.
In the event complications arise during (or after) surgery, and you need to go to a hospital, you will want to know that your surgeon will be able to treat you at that particular hospital. Plus, "hospital credentials are another indicator that a doctor is fully trained to perform plastic surgery," contends Vanek Plastic Surgery. They "are granted only after a peer review by other board-certified surgeons."
Be sure to ask your doctor about the hospitals he has admitting privileges with, then call the hospitals to verify the information.
4. Make sure your plastic surgeon specializes in your particular breast augmentation type
Some surgeons specialize in a particular breast augmentation type. They may feel most comfortable performing the periareolar incision or inframammary incision, or they may be better at placing implants over the muscle versus under the muscle.
If your surgeon has a certain specialty, he may try to lead you into the breast augmentation type he is most familiar with. While he may be able to deliver, you shouldn't have to settle if it doesn't meet the breast augmentation goals you had in mind.
This is why researching the ins and outs of breast augmentation is critical. When you go into your surgeon's office for a consultation, knowing which incision and placement type you want will help you field which surgeon is best for you.
But understand that just because you want a certain incision or placement type, doesn't mean you're the best candidate for it. After examining your breast skin and tissue, along with taking your breast width diameter, you may be better suited for one over the other. So if your surgeon suggests an incision or placement type that doesn't gel with what you envisioned, simply ask why he's making the recommendation.
5. Ask lots of hard-hitting questions
During your breast augmentation consultation, you're not just meeting with a plastic surgeon, you're interviewing him. You need to ask hard-hitting questions to make sure he's a match.
This grill-session doesn't lack purpose; it is designed to give you insight into your surgeon's qualifications and experience but, more importantly, provide you with deeper knowledge into what to expect from him before, during, and after the procedure.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, "asking your surgeon about his or her professional involvement in teaching, speaking or writing about the procedure you are considering will tell you that he or she is up-to-date on new techniques and technologies."
A great breast implant surgeon will answer all of your questions, giving you informative answers that display his abilities and make you feel confident he can help you reach your breast augmentation goals.
6. Get familiar with your breast implant surgeon's past work and past patients
During your breast augmentation consultation, ask to see before and after breast augmentation photos of actual patients who have undergone surgery by him. When you scroll through the look-book:
- Search for photos of patients who have the type of breast augmentation and implant style you want
- Compare the plastic surgeon's results to what you want or had in mind
- Reflect on what you like or don't like about his work
- Ask yourself whether his work is aesthetically pleasing
- Look for patients who have a similar body type to yours and judge how he was able to tailor the breast augmentation to patients with your frame
If you like what you see, get patient references from the surgeon that you can speak to about their experience. Most patients are willing to share knowledge regarding their surgeon, staff, procedure, recovery, and results.
7. Don't forget to use your gut
One person in our Q&A forum recently scheduled a mommy makeover with a surgeon she didn't verify and who claimed to be double board-certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery. Her gut kicked in during their consultation when "he said after my tummy tuck and muscle repair I won't be able to do any more sit-ups or heavy lifting."
She looked him up after and found nothing. Had it not been for her intuition and investigation into his certification, she would have gone through with the procedure and, based on his statement, been physically limited for life.
"There is no way I would want anyone...to have any sort of permanent restrictions after surgery!" Vanek Plastic Surgery said in response to her comment. "The notion that you permanently won’t be able to do things you want to do after healing is inconsistent with the expectations of board-certified plastic surgeons."
You have a gut for a reason. Use it. If you feel uncomfortable or unsure at any point of the consultation, even during your pre-op appointments, back out and begin your search for a qualified plastic surgeon again.
Find plastic surgeons near me
You need a qualified plastic surgeon for your breast augmentation. Start your search with our network of board-certified plastic surgeons. Just type in your city, state, or zip code. We'll give you a list of breast implant surgeons in your region.
Check out their complete profiles and websites, then set up consultations if you feel you've found some potential suitors for your surgery.
American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. Choosing a Cosmetic Surgeon. Retrieved from https://www.americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org/patient-resources/choosing-a-cosmetic-surgeon/
Rohrich, R. (2018). Tips for choosing a plastic surgeon. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Retrieved from https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/tips-for-choosing-a-plastic-surgeon
Sinrich, J. (2017). 9 Insider Tips for Finding a Plastic Surgeon You Can Trust. Self. Retrieved from https://www.self.com/story/how-to-find-a-plastic-surgeon
Austin-Weston. (2017). Eight secrets plastic surgeons only tell their friends. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Retrieved from https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/eight-secrets-plastic-surgeons-only-tell-their-friends