As more and more cosmetic procedures become readily available, they become more and more mainstream. It seems as if everyone is getting Botox, fillers, breast augmentation, brow lifts, face lifts, tummy tucks, lasers and liposuction. However easy access to treatments and procedures comes with concerns. As captured on the popular TV show Botched, things can go very wrong with serious even life threatening consequences. Anyone conducting cosmetic procedures can call themselves a “cosmetic surgeon.” However, to be considered a plastic surgeon one must be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. John Zannis, a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon in New Bern, North Carolina offers the following red flags not to ignore when selecting a plastic surgeon, dermatologist, aesthetician or anyone else you plan to trust your body with.
- They offer discount coupons.
Discount coupons make sense if you’re looking for a haircut or a massage, not for plastic surgery. “Don’t bargain price when it comes to something serious like surgery. You want to make sure you research the average prices and if something seems too steep of a discount, beware.” Dr. Zannis says.
- The surgeon is not Board-Certified.
Look for credentials, someone who is Board-Certified in plastic surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. If they are they usually have this credential prominently visible in their office and on their website. This means the surgeon has had at least six years of surgical training with two or three years devoted specifically to plastic surgery, has passed rigorous oral and written examinations and has demonstrated safe and ethical surgical practice.
- They make lofty promises.
Any surgeon that promises to make you look like a celebrity, or says he can make you look 30 years younger, is over-promising. A skilled surgeon knows the potential and limitations of surgery and will be clear about this from the start. A good surgeon will want you to look like an improved version of you, not someone else.
- The surgeon’s operating facility is not accredited.
Often plastic surgery is performed in an ambulatory care center or the surgeon’s office-based surgical facility. “Either way, “you want to make sure the facility is properly accredited. Accreditation ensures that strict standards are met for proper equipment, safety, surgeon credentials and staffing,” stresses Dr. Zannis.
- They try to “up-sell” potential patients.
An initial consultation with a plastic surgeon should be a collaborative effort in which doctor and patient come to an agreement about which course of treatment is best. It’s reasonable for the surgeon to suggest alternative approaches, but that it’s worrisome if he/she uses high-pressure tactics. “Surgeons who try to convince you to have more surgery that you want may be just trying to squeeze as much money from you as possible,” warns Dr. Zannis.
- They advertise aggressively.
Some excellent plastic surgeons do advertise their services. But Dr. Zannis believes that plastic surgeons who advertise heavily; on radio, TV, newspapers, etc. may do so because they lack positive word-of-mouth and referral business both key to secure a steady stream of patients. “The number of ads a surgeon displays is often inversely proportional to the quality of the doctor,” Dr. Zannis says.
- The consultation is short and lacks professionalism.
The first visit with a plastic surgeon must be a thorough, get-to-know-you session in which both patient and doctor determine if they can work together. Also trust how the overall consultation experience feels to you. Is the staff friendly and welcoming? Was your phone call handled professionally? Did they follow through on getting your promised information? Are they clear about all costs and how the procedure will go? If you find yourself in a room viewing a video about the doctor’s services and are whisked through a brief meeting, you may want to look elsewhere. If you learn that you won’t be meeting with the surgeon at your consultation, don’t waste your time.
- They’ve been censured or sued several times.
Just because a surgeon has faced a malpractice lawsuit doesn’t mean they are incompetent. In today’s medical climate, even first-rate surgeons are sometimes sued. However, be wary of a surgeon who has been sued more than a few times or have been censured by the state medical board, says Zannis.
- They don’t provide before and after photos.
If you’re interested in a procedure, you should see what the physician can do for you. One of the best ways to see the quality of work is to view before and after photos of their actual patients. If they won’t show you any, they may not have enough experience, or success in that particular procedure.
When to Consider a Different Cosmetic Surgeon
Searching for a cosmetic surgeon is more manageable when you use a clearly-defined system to make the choice. Consider all options and weigh them cautiously. If you’re consulting with a cosmetic surgeon and any of the following red-flags come up, consider looking for a different surgeon.
About the doctor
Dr. John Zannis is a New Bern, North Carolina board-certified plastic surgeon and best-selling author. A graduate of Stanford University and The University of Cincinnati Medical College, he received his formal training in General Surgery and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina under the guidance of world-renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Louis Argenta. During this time, he performed over 5,000 surgical procedures and covered all aspects of plastic surgery including cosmetic surgery of the face and body, complex reconstructive procedures of face and body, cleft lip and palate surgery, hand surgery, facial and jaw fracture repair, and reconstruction following massive weight loss. He blends his interests and studies of classical art and symmetry to his surgery practices.