Sunday, November 13, 2016

Tips on How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon, from Virginia Beach’s Dr. Ben Hugo

When it comes to looking for a plastic surgeon, Virginia Beach’s Dr. Ben Hugo has some recommendations for patients to keep in mind. “Choosing the right plastic surgeon is one of the most important decisions you can make,” he explains.

Make sure the surgeon is board certified

This one is a no-brainer. For plastic surgery, you want a surgeon who is certified by a board, such as the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Established in 1931, the American Board of Plastic Surgery is the largest plastic surgery organization in the world. It’s simple and easy to find. The American Board of Medical Specialties’ website can tell you if a doctor is board certified in plastic surgery or other, more specific areas. Facial plastic surgeons, for instance, can also be board certified by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Why is it so important to choose a board-certified surgeon? Because any doctor may do any procedure—a facial specialist could do foot surgery. If you use a board-certified plastic surgeon, you know he or she has completed three to five years of training in general surgery and a minimum of two to three years of training in plastic surgery. Board-certified doctors also have to take written and oral tests. Board-certified plastic surgeons also have to do continuing medical education and take a written test every 10 years.

Check the surgeon’s record

Make sure that the plastic surgeon you choose does not have any pending malpractice lawsuits. Links to the websites of every state’s medical board can be found here. Many state licensing boards list malpractice judgments, plus any disciplinary actions by the board.

Ask if the surgeon has hospital privileges

Even if you’re having a plastic surgery procedure at an outpatient clinic, it’s worth asking where the doctor has hospital privileges, because hospitals do background checks.

Come armed with questions for the doctor

One of the first steps you can take toward a successful procedure is to become an educated consumer. Ask your potential plastic surgeon is how often he or she performs the procedure you’re interested in. Read about patient safety and how to make smart choices about your surgeon and the facilities where your procedure will be performed. The American Board of Plastic Surgery has a list you can print out and bring with you to the office.

Check out before and after photos

Browse through a plastic surgeon’s before and after photos to see the kinds of results you can expect to see from the practice, both in terms of surgical and minimally invasive procedures. Make sure you read the patient’s testimonials as well.

Be wary of multiple procedures

The more separate procedures you have, the more you pay. An unethical surgeon might suggest a brow lift when someone has come in looking for just for a nose job. Unfortunately, money is a motivation in some people, so perhaps the most valuable advice is to rely on objective information about the surgeon, and not by how the doctor makes you feel. And it never hurts to bring a friend or family member to the consultation with you to help ask important questions. That said, a plastic surgeon who does recommend multiple procedures or treatments for good reason will be able to explain why that route represents the best way to get the results a patient is seeking. Many plastic surgeons may combine procedures into one session—when it is safe to do so—to cut down on both cost and risk to the patient.

Go with your gut (backed by research)

Assuming a doctor has all of the necessary qualifications and credentials, the final deciding factor should be whether you feel comfortable with the plastic surgeon. If this is someone you believe listens to you and understands you, someone who will be a lifelong resource and not just interested in performing a single surgery and moving on, you can feel confident in your choice.

To learn more about plastic surgery, contact Dr. Ben Hugo, a plastic surgeon in Virginia Beach, at (757) 496-4801 or visit

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