Finding the Right Surgeon

5 Key Attributes to Look for in a Plastic Surgeon


You’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. Now you’ve made the important decision to have reconstructive surgery to rebuild your breast. Your next important decision is to make sure you have the right plastic surgeon to do the job.

Finding the right surgeon isn’t always easy. But you need to put the same time and effort into it that you would put into hiring a real estate agent to find you a home or finding the right school for your children. After all this is your health we’re talking about and you deserve the best.

So what should you look for when choosing a surgeon?

1. Make Sure the Plastic Surgeon Specializes in Your Procedure

Some plastic surgeons specialize in implants, while others do tissue flap procedures, such as TRAM or the newer microsurgical procedure, the DIEP flap. Perhaps you already had a reconstruction procedure and need it revised. You need someone who has extensive experience with revision surgery.  Ask how many procedures the surgeon has performed and the success rate for the specific procedure you are considering.

2. Make Sure They are Board Certified and Well Trained.

Plastic surgeons are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)  which means that they have completed residency training specifically in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at an accredited institution.  They have passed comprehensive written and oral examinations covering all plastic surgery procedures. You can visit the ABPS website to find out if your plastic surgeon is an up-to-date certified member.  Fellowship training in a specialized field such as Breast Microsurgery is desirable if you are considering muscle sparing autologeous reconstruction procedures such as DIEP, GAP, PAP etc.

3. Make Sure the Surgeon’s Record is Clean

There are licensing boards for each state where you can check a surgeon’s background for any malpractice judgments or disciplinary actions. Visit the Federation of State Medical Boards’ website for more information.

4. Make Sure You are Comfortable

Once you find a plastic surgeon that specializes in your chosen breast reconstruction procedure, make sure to meet and ask a variety of questions. For example, how many procedures have you performed? What is your success rate? What is your background? What will the surgery entail and what is recovery going to be like?

Even if you have done your research and know the answers, see if you are comfortable with how the doctor communicates with you during this meeting. Does the surgeon answer your questions thoroughly and address your concerns?  If the answers are off-putting or you feel uncomfortable in any way, that surgeon may not be the one for you.

5. Make Sure They Take Your Insurance

It might sound like an obvious thing to ask, but some surgeons will require that you pay out-of-network fees. You don’t want to be surprised with a big bill at the end of the procedure, so make sure that your plastic surgery procedure and the surgeon’s fees are covered at in-network rates by your insurance plan. Work with the surgeon and their staff to make sure everything is covered and you know all of the out-of-pocket costs prior to the procedure.

The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction believes in good health for everyone. If you or someone you know is in need of breast reconstruction, contact them at or toll-free at 866- 374-2627.

The Best Tips to Help You Prepare for Surgery

Q: I’m getting ready to undergo a mastectomy, and I’m nervous. There are so many things to think about and organize right now, and I feel overwhelmed! Do you have any tips on how I can prepare for my procedure?

A: Thanks for your question! First of all, take a deep breath. You’re not alone. A lot of women ask us how they can optimize their time and resources before and after surgery. We love this in-depth article from Best Friends for Life Co., which gives you an essential checklist of items to cover and pack, as well as key terms to understand your medical status pre-surgery. They also have post-surgery steps for what to expect. From the article, here are a few essential tips:

“If you work, you will need to inform your employer that you will be on medical leave for at least 2 weeks.  You might feel up to going back earlier, but it’s best to give yourself a buffer.

Make sure you’ve discussed payments and coverage with your health insurer before your surgery. Get all pre-authorizations in writing, and make sure you are aware of any out-of-pocket costs you will have to pay. There is sometimes a difference between what you are billed for and what your insurance will pay, and you should be prepared ahead of time to avoid surprises.

Get your house in order – literally. Pay bills, do your financial chores, get the laundry done, prepare and freeze microwave meals, and have help lined up for yourself, your house and kids.  Do any necessary heavy cleaning before your surgery, because pushing a vacuum cleaning or changing sheets will not be possible for quite a while afterward

Go shopping. Make sure you have several days’ worth of groceries for your family. Stock up on crackers, broth based soups (not creamy) and jello.  These are all easy to digest the first few days at home. Get some bendable straws; it makes it easier to drink.”

Be sure the read the entire article at their website. We also LOVE their BFFLBags, which take care of a lot of little details while you’re in the hospital or surgical center.

Do you have medical questions? Submit your question to Ask the Doctor today! Be sure to browse our archives, too.