Only doctors who have been certified in plastic surgery are allowed to call themselves plastic surgeons. Cosmetic surgeons do not have this certification and can be dentists, dermatologists, or other doctors who perform cosmetic surgeries. Reconstructive surgeons use surgery to restore a person’s form and function of the body. These may or may not be plastic surgeons.

Here are some steps you can take to help you decide which plastic surgeon you should choose.

1. Is the prospect a member of the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons?

This will guarantee that your surgeon has the proper training and qualifications required to perform reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries.

2. Check to verify a surgeon is licensed and if he or she has had any disciplinary action taken.

If so, you will have to make the decision if you want to choose that prospective plastic surgeon based on the action taken against him or her.

3. Verify training and credentials.

Lots of cosmetic surgeons say they are “board certified” but depending on which professional board they are talking about, requirements differ greatly. In Canada, only the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons will certify physicians and surgeons in different medical specialties.

4. Ask how often the surgeon performs the procedure you want.

Choose someone who performs them often and can tell you what the complication rates are for the surgery you want.

5. Ask if the surgeon has any admitting privileges.

In the event you experience complications after surgery, you want someone who has hospital admitting privileges. Call the hospital to verify this information. If the doctor uses an in-office operating room, ask if it is certified.

6. Ask doctors you know about their opinion of the surgeon you are considering.

People to ask include your family doctor or other doctors you may know.

7. Make sure you don’t have any conditions that might make surgery risky.

While you are at your next doctor’s appointment, get a checkup to rule out any health problems that might complicate surgery.

8. Ensure the person giving the anaesthesia is certified.

Anesthesiologists are an important part of the surgical team so you want someone who is properly trained and certified in order to ensure your safety.

9. Read the patient consent form carefully.

Ask what the surgeon will do if complications take place, or if more surgery is required. What type of follow-up care does the surgeon offer? Discuss your expectations thoroughly. Good communication between your plastic surgeon and you will help ensure things go according to plan and that you will be satisfied with the end result.

10. Make sure you feel comfortable with the doctor you’ve chosen.

You want to have a good feeling about the doctor and his or her experience, knowledge, and training. You should also feel confident that he or she will be able to handle any potential complications that arise.

Your choice will be one you will have to live with for years to come. A successful procedure will give you greater confidence; a poor decision will increase your chances for ending up with poor results. This will, in turn, lead to additional time, costs, and the heartache of being dissatisfied.