Tips for Choosing the Best Plastic Surgeon
Last updated: April 2023
People diagnosed with skin cancer often find it is on their face. This can be scary, because you wonder if you’ll be disfigured. I had two skin cancers on my face, and looking at photos online didn’t help my fears. I also remember, many years ago, how my mother had skin cancer removed from her nose, and was left with a ridge that never went away - no matter how much her doctor assured her that wouldn’t happen.
Luckily, my dermatologist had a knowledgeable plastic surgeon who does the work after the cancer is removed. While many dermatologists do the work in their office, it doesn’t help to know more. Here are some tips for choosing the best plastic surgeon.
What to ask a plastic surgeon
Here are a few questions you can ask, to be sure that you have the most knowledge - and the best doctor.
- Am I the right candidate for this procedure? Find out if this is your best option.
- Are you board certified? Most likely, your doctor is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. But asking is a good idea. It shows you know a little about what to expect, and it is important they are certified.
- How many surgeries of this kind have you performed? Is this something the doctor has plenty of experience in?
- Are there complications or risks I need to be aware of? All surgery comes with some risks, but find out exactly what you should know before making a decision.
- What’s the recovery like? Do you need a lot of time to recover? Are there certain things you should not do?
None of these questions are offensive or out of the realm of what you should be able to ask. In fact, the more you ask, the better informed you are. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel rushed into a decision, or to choose a procedure that isn’t right for you. With that said, plastic surgery is often a good choice for those with facial skin cancers or in areas that are publicly seen.
What About Cost?
Even though insurance typically covers a reconstructive procedure, it is still important to ask about the cost. You may have a copay, or even pay out of pocket - either way, knowing what you’re looking at upfront means no surprises down the road. And while the surgeon may not know the costs, their office will be able to go over it with you.
Your dermatologist and plastic surgeon
In my opinion, you have your best options from a dermatologist. For one, they’ve done it before and know about facial and/or reconstructive skin cancer. In fact, according to Erica H. Lee at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center,
Dermatologists who have completed a dermatologic surgery fellowship tend to have the most experience with facial cancers.
And, you get everything done at once place - or usually, at least.
You can never have too much information
No matter which questions you ask, make sure you do ask. You can never have too much information when it comes to your care for skin cancer. And hopefully these tips on choosing the best plastic surgeon help.
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