Choosing a Plastic Surgeon

Tips to help you choose a Plastic Surgeon

Only physicians who are certified in Plastic Surgery are Plastic Surgeons. The rule doesn’t always apply to the term “Cosmetic Surgeon,” so it is not unusual to see dermatologists, dentists or other doctors presenting themselves as cosmetic surgeons.

There is no foolproof way to choose a Plastic Surgeon or to guarantee your results. However, there are a few basics, which can help you to decide:

  1. Find out if your prospective surgeon is a member of the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons. This guarantees that your surgeon has the proper training required to perform cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
  2. Check with your provincial college of physicians and surgeons to see whether the surgeon is licensed and whether disciplinary action has been taken against him/her.
  3. Verify credentials and training. Many cosmetic surgeons advertise they are “board-certified;” however, requirements vary greatly depending on which professional board is cited. In Canada, only the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons certifies physicians and surgeons in medical specialties (
  4. Ask the surgeon how often he or she performs the procedure you want and what the complication rates are.
  5. Ask the surgeon whether they have hospital admitting privileges in case of complications after surgery. Call the hospital to verify the information. If the doctor has an in-office operating suite, ask if it is certified.
  6. Ask family physicians or other doctors knowledgeable about the local medical community what their opinion of your prospective surgeon is. Also, get a checkup from your family doctor to see if you have any health problems that might make cosmetic surgery risky.
  7. Canadian physicians and surgeons carry medical malpractice insurance through the Canadian Medical Protective
  8. Don’t feel pressured to agree to more procedures than you want, regardless of the price.
  9. Be wary of the surgeon who “guarantees” satisfaction or minimizes the risks or recovery time involved.
  10. Ask if the person giving the anesthesia is properly certified.
  11. Read the patient consent form carefully before signing it. Ask what steps the surgeon will take if complications occur or further surgery is needed and what type of follow-up care will be given. Be thorough when discussing your expectations with your doctor. Proper communication before surgery tends to result in greater satisfaction.
  12. Most importantly, feel comfortable with the surgeon you have selected. Hopefully you will not have a complication and things will run smoothly. However, should you have a complication, you want to know that this surgeon will pay close attention to you to see you through it. You might want to ask your prospective surgeon what he/she would do if you suffered one of the complications they describe when they talk about the surgery. If they do not even mention complications, you might want to take a closer look.

What is the difference between Plastic Surgery, Cosmetic Surgery and Reconstructive Surgery?

Plastic surgery encompasses both cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. While the mere term “Cosmetic Surgeon” should not be considered a red flag, you should always verify that you are getting what you think you are getting.

If you want a surgeon who is certified in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery either by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada or the American Board of Plastic Surgery, make sure you verify that fact by contacting your provincial college of physicians and surgeons or the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Cosmetic surgery is taking someone from the realm of normal to the realm of the ideal e.g., facelift, browlift, liposuction.

Reconstructive surgery is taking someone from the realm of clearly abnormal to within the realm of normal e.g., breast reconstruction following mastectomy, cleft lip.