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5 Tips for Choosing a Safe Plastic Surgeon

Submitted by Dr. Bernabe Vazquez on June 29, 2021
five tips for choosing a safe plastic surgeon

When considering a cosmetic surgery procedure, choosing a safe plastic surgeon is by far the first and most important part of the process. Year after year, stories of shady plastic surgeons and “surgical supercenters” fill the headlines in South Florida and beyond. Data shows, where there’s more public interest in cosmetic procedures like liposuction, breast augmentation and face lifts — there’s also a higher risk of surgical complications related to unsafe physician practices. 

So how do you, as a potential plastic surgery patient, protect yourself and ensure you’ve chosen the safest surgeon possible? Dr. Bernabe Vazquez — one of Miami’s safest, board certified plastic surgeons — shares the advice he’s garnered throughout his 30+ years as an operating physician. Here are Dr. Vazquez’s top five tips for choosing a safe plastic surgeon …

1. Check the Surgeon’s Credentials

To ensure you’re choosing a safe plastic surgeon, be sure to ask about the physician’s credentials.  Working with a board certified plastic surgeon will give you the peace of mind that comes with the knowledge that your plastic surgeon has gone above and beyond the ordinary requirements of medical licenses.  According to the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a board certified plastic surgeon has completed five progressive years of clinical general surgery residency training and a minimum of three years of Plastic Surgery Training for Independent Programs and 6 years for Integrated Programs. The final year must be at the level of senior responsibility.  

In short, if the cosmetic surgeon you’re considering isn’t board certified, keep looking. 

2. Read Previous Patients Testimonials 

board certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Bernabe Vazquez
Board certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Bernabe Vazquez

While you want to take your prospective plastic surgeon at their word, the responsible thing to do would be to make sure you do some additional research yourself. Reading reviews from real patients can often help you assess if you’re choosing a safe plastic surgeon. Even the best physicians receive not-so-great reviews from time to time, so don’t let a couple of less than stellar reviews completely deter you. Instead, look for recurring complaints or patterns in the patient reviews. If there’s a pattern of unhappy patient testimonials, or constant complaints about specific safety or communication issues — consider moving on in your search. 

Additionally, be thorough in your assessment of before and after photos. When it comes to procedures like tummy tucks, breast lifts, and Brazilian Butt Lifts — individual differences in surgical techniques can make a big difference in the outcome. Look for patients that have a similar body type as you, as these patients’ outcomes can give you an idea of the results you can expect, and you can compare them to the look you desire. By doing this, you can start to understand what recovery and result should be expected. Not every plastic surgeon will appeal to your aesthetic sense—and that’s okay. 

3. Safe Plastic Surgeons Invite Your Questions 

Interview the plastic surgeon you are considering, in person if possible. Don’t shy away from inquiring about the details of their experience. Ask them specific questions about their training, and how much experience they have with the procedure you’re considering. If the surgeon doesn’t answer you openly and honestly —trust your gut and continue your search elsewhere. 

Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions: “Have you ever had a patient die?”; What sort of serious complications have you or your patients encountered during and after surgery, and how was it handled?”; Etc. Respectable plastic surgeons expect these questions, and know the importance of full disclosure about their expertise and abilities.

4. Visit the Office in Person

A surgical procedure in process

If possible, make it a point to meet the doctor and staff in person at their office. This visit will give you an idea of how the surgeon and staff interact with each other and the overall “vibe” of the office. Are there multiple people waiting at a time to see the doctor? This is often indicative of over scheduling, which can lead to less interaction time and higher error rates with patients. What’s the atmosphere in the waiting room and patient rooms? Chaotic? Sterile? Tense? Use all five of your senses to gather information. 

Before moving forward, you’ll want to know you can trust the doctor, their staff, and their experience.  When you choose a safe plastic surgeon, you’ll have confidence that your safety and results are your surgery team’s top priority. 

During this visit, find out all you can about the location of where the surgery is performed, and the facility’s accreditation (such as AAAASF, AAAHC, JCAHO or IMQ), operating facility certification, or another body approved by the state medical board. And don’t forget to ask about the anestetist’s qualifications, experience and safety record.  

5. Stop bargain hunting! 

It’s important to remember — you’re literally putting your life and health in the hands of the plastic surgeon you choose. The outcome of your elective plastic surgery procedure can be a long lasting, confidence boosting gift — or a source of emotional, physical and financial stress and scarring. This is NOT the place for bargain shopping or price haggling. More often than not, you get what you pay for — either way. 

Dr. Bernabe Vazquez has been safely and successfully performing cosmetic surgery procedures in Miami, Florida for more than 30 years. His reputation as one of South Florida’s safest plastic surgeons is backed by multiple accreditations and additional certifications, years of individual and team experience, a stellar safety record, and the results of thousands of satisfied patients.