Lara Devgan, MD, MPH, is a Yale-educated, Hopkins-instructed, and Columbia-trained plastic and reconstructive surgeon in private practice in New York City. For more information, please visit

How to choose a plastic surgeon: It's a big decision; choose wisely

Finding a plastic surgeon is a big decision, since your surgeon's work will stay with you forever. Here are a few tips for choosing wisely, from my perspective as a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New York City.

1. Make sure your plastic surgeon is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

This is a basic but extremely important first step. You can research this at home before ever setting foot into a doctor's office. Although there are many "boards" and many "certifications," the ABPS is the largest, oldest, most respected, and most rigorous one for plastic surgery. It is also the only board that certifies surgeons in the full scope of cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgical procedures of the face, nose, breasts, and entire body. You can confirm your surgeon's board certification via this official website.

2. Pay attention to how you are treated.

Everyone is human, and your doctor is certainly not perfect, but you should feel good about how you are treated when you meet with your plastic surgeon. If you have a question, he or she should answer it in a way you understand. If you are uncomfortable, he or she should take steps to make you feel more comfortable. If your doctor is running late, you should get a sincere apology. You should not feel prodded, pushed, or "up-sold" into anything. And you should not feel that your plastic surgeon is condescending, rude, or impatient.

3. Observe your environment.

I was once told by a friend in the restaurant business that you can judge the quality and cleanliness of a restaurant's kitchen by looking at its bathroom. A version of this rule applies in medicine as well. Your plastic surgeon's office and office staff are a reflection of who he or she is. Look around. Make sure the exam rooms are clean, the staff is friendly, and the environment is appropriate. If the office is a mess, there is a good chance that the operating and procedure rooms are as well. If the staff is rude or disrespectful when you first come in, you may not feel happy with how you are treated in subsequent interactions. If the website is outdated or nonexistent, you may have a surgeon who is not facile with modern technology.

4. Make sure your plastic surgeon is accessible.

All of my preoperative and postoperative patients get my personal mobile phone number in case they have any urgent issues. They also receive my email address for less urgent concerns. And of course, they are provided with the office phone number for more routine administrative matters. Before you proceed with surgery, make sure you are able to contact your plastic surgeon. Pay attention to how long it takes for your surgeon to return your calls and emails. Make sure that if you have a question, you get a timely answer.

5. Don't forget to cover the basics.

Make sure your plastic surgeon has been trained at reputable, respected universities and hospitals. Read online patient reviews about patient experiences. Ask your friends, other doctors in the community, and people you may know for feedback and recommendations. Look at before and after pictures and make sure you are happy with them. Note to see whether the before and after pictures are modern, digital, current images, and whether they reflect modern scar-minimizing techniques. A lot has changed in plastic surgery over the past 30 years, and it is important to find a surgeon who strives to stay current. Find out your surgeon's practice philosophy to make sure it is a good fit for what you have in mind.

For questions about this article, I can be reached via




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