What to Consider When Selecting a Plastic Surgeon

two doctors performing surgery

If you were told that you needed surgery to resolve a medical issue, you would immediately take some basic steps to learn more about the process. You’d want to know exactly what was involved, the ideal results, and the possible risks of moving forward. In a lot of cases, you would also want to get a second opinion, particularly if the surgery involved significant risks. 

The specialist performing the surgery would need to have the proper qualifications so that you would feel safe, secure, and confident going into your surgery. Although plastic surgery is usually elective, you should treat the planning process and plastic surgeon selection with the same care as you would with a medical surgery. Here are some things to consider when selecting your surgeon.

Board Certification

Board certification should be one of the top requirements you should focus on during your search for a surgeon. This is a sign that the surgeon has officially undergone significant training and is continuing to do so. Oftentimes, you will see information indicating that a physician is “board eligible,” which means they have completed training and are eligible to take the exam. This does not mean the physician is “board certified.” Board certification means a physician has taken and passed an exam in a particular medical speciality. 

Assuming the physician in question is board certified, you’ll want to ensure that they are board certified for plastic surgery specifically. For instance, a physician specializing in throat surgery can be board certified for that particular specialty, and also perform plastic surgery. Although they are board certified, they are not board certified for plastic surgery.

In addition to confirming that your potential surgeon is board certified, make sure that the facility they are practicing at is also accredited. Samples of accreditation are the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF), and the Joint Commission.


When choosing a plastic surgeon, think about the procedure you are planning on getting done. You are going to want to choose a surgeon who specializes in that particular area. Find out how many years of experience in this type of surgery they have, and if they specialize in any other areas that would make you feel more confident going in.

Before and After Photos

Another way to make sure your potential plastic surgeon is reputable is to see the real results of their work. Look on their website or ask them directly for a collection of before and after photos, particularly ones that showcase the procedure you’re looking to get done. 

Do these clients have a natural and improved appearance in the after photos? Are you impressed with their work? A dependable surgeon should be ready and willing to show you before and after photos of multiple happy and satisfied clients.


Geographical Location

As far as geographical location, the standards for plastic surgeries in the United States are typically different than the standards in other countries. Qualifications such as board certification, hospital accreditation, malpractice laws, and so on are not as prevalent or particular in other locations outside the United States, so you should be aware when shopping around outside of the country. Other issues include the use of non-FDA-approved implants and non-FDA-approved sutures, so do the research and educate yourself when looking overseas for your surgeon.

Facility Type

When it comes to the location of your surgical facility, you usually have three options: hospital, surgical center, and surgeon’s office. What do you feel most comfortable with? 

Hospitals need to feel confident in their surgeons, so you’ll know if your surgeon is working at a hospital that they are trusted to be competent and skilled. The hospital care process is government-regulated, so you know you’ll receive the top care before, during, and after surgery. 

Surgical centers are also heavily regulated and designed for the utmost care, but are solely focused on providing surgical services. They are very similar to hospitals as far as surgical environments go.

Surgeons’ offices sometimes have a surgical procedure room built in that can be used for smaller, less invasive plastic surgery. If you choose this option, pay attention to the surgeon’s  accreditation and whether their facility is equipped to handle any unexpected issues.


If you go in for an in-person meetup with your potential surgeon, don’t only focus on the office or surgical environment, but take a moment to meet and evaluate the staff. Do you connect? Do you feel comfortable and safe? You’ll want the staff who will be around for the procedure to make you feel at ease.


Some surgeons have clinic assistants or students take part or sit in on the procedure. Find out if that will be the case, or if your surgeon will be the only one present. If more than one person will be involved in the procedure, meet them and review their qualifications as well before coming to a decision.


Similar to checking reviews for childcare providers, restaurants, or vacation spots, word-of-mouth is a great way to find out about quality surgeons — or ones to steer clear of. Check out physician directories and doctor review sites such as Healthgrades, Real Self, and Vitals to see what other clients say about your potential surgeon.


Although price is important, it should never be the deciding factor for choosing your surgeon. Remember — you get what you pay for. However, if you are confident with your potential surgeon or have narrowed it down to a few, schedule a sit-down to discuss your budget. If the price is out of your range, have a frank conversation and let them know what you can afford and your expectations. The probability is that you and your surgeon will be able to find a happy medium or financial solution.

Finding the right plastic surgeon to perform your procedure can be tough, and should not be taken lightly. Dr. Athré is one of the few cosmetic and reconstructive surgeons in Houston who is a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon, certified in otolaryngology and head/neck surgery. Athré Facial Plastics focuses on facial surgery with natural-looking results, uniquely tailored to you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!