The doctor who did a great job on your friend’s facelift may not be the best choice if what you want is a breast lift. There are many cosmetic procedures and many specialists who do them. One surgeon might specialize in cosmetic breast surgery. Another might do only cosmetic facial surgery. When searching for a cosmetic surgeon, find one who specializes in the procedure you wish to have done. Be a savvy healthcare consumer to optimize your results. Ask for Recommendations A good place to start is to ask your primary care doctor for a recommendation. You can also ask family or friends for a recommendation. If you don’t want anyone to know you are considering cosmetic surgery, you can do a little research on your own. The American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery have online tools to help you find cosmetic surgeons. You can also research cosmetic surgeons on Healthgrades.com. Healthgrades has the added benefit of showing patient satisfaction ratings and the quality of care at hospitals where the surgeon can treat patients. Look for Board Certification Regardless of how you get a list of names, invest some time to research the doctor’s credentials. Focus on surgeons who are board certified in cosmetic surgery. This means the surgeon has special training, skills and experience in cosmetic surgery. Look for these qualifications: A surgeon who is a member of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. These doctors have certification from the American Board of Medical Specialties. Board-certified plastic surgeons have training in cosmetic surgery. A surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. Board-certified cosmetic surgeons first train in a variety of other medical specialties, from plastic surgery to dermatology, and subsequently go on to learn cosmetic surgery in a 1- to 2-year training program. Keep in mind cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are different. Plastic surgery includes many reconstructive procedures to improve function. Cosmetic surgery is about improving appearance. Some plastic surgeons, but not all, do cosmetic procedures. Interview the Doctor Once you narrow down your search, call each doctor’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor. Choose a doctor with whom you are comfortable talking and who fully answers your questions. Here are some questions to ask: Am I a good candidate for the procedure? Why? How many of the desired procedure have you performed? How frequently do you encounter complications from the surgery? What do you do to avoid or correct complications if they occur? May I see before-and-after pictures? Most cosmetic surgeons have examples of their work. Look at pictures of people who had the same procedure you want. They also should be about your age. Cover Your Cost Ask about the total cost of the procedure including the surgeon, hospital or facility fees, and the cost of anesthesia. Insurance doesn’t cover cosmetic surgery so expect to pay for it out-of-pocket. Different surgeons charge different prices. Ask how much your procedure will cost and what the price includes. Also ask the surgeon if he or she offers a payment plan. Consider the Treatment Team Cosmetic surgery procedures require a team of highly skilled and experience healthcare professionals. Any anesthesiologist who is part of your procedure should be qualified, too. Ask if the person is a board-certified anesthesiologist or a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Cosmetic surgery may be done in a doctor’s office, surgical center or hospital. You want a safe location. The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) certifies offices for surgery. The American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) certifies surgical centers. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) certifies hospital operating rooms. Ask about this. Cosmetic surgery is optional, so take your time with selecting a surgeon. Don’t fear asking questions. Talk with a few surgeons before making your final decision.