Sunday, September 20, 2009

Can you trust Plastic Surgery directories? Here's what Dr. Brueck thinks.

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This issue's subject is plastic surgery directories and thoughts on how they, and some probing questions, can help you find the right cosmetic surgeon for you.

Used to be there were two, maybe three directories in our lives. The White Pages, the Yellow Pages and, at one time, City Directories.

With the onslaught of the Internet and the Web, there are now more directories than weeds in an untended lawn. All manner of entrepreneurs have discovered they can create a directory and sell companies a place in it.

Some of these directories have no subject discipline. If you have a few bucks, you can have your web site listed in a directory. Others, have requirements that a company or individual be in a certain business.

Plastic surgery directories are like that. You must be a qualified plastic surgeon to be included in the directory. There are a few of them and they all require medical/surgical qualification at some level.

The general idea is that someone looking for a plastic surgeon will enter an appropriate search term, such as breast augmentation, in one of the Web Search Engines. Among the results they receive will be a few Directories of Plastic Surgeons.

The directory can be sorted by geographic location or other criteria. If you are looking for a plastic surgeon in "Anyplace Town", the directory will deliver a list of plastic surgeons in or around "Anyplace Town".

It will also include a profile of the doctor, an email address, a telephone number and, occasionally a web site address, for each doctor. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, for someone seeking information and access to a local plastic surgeon, a directory can be very helpful, just as the Yellow Pages can be. (Of course, the internet is usually more responsive, more comprehensive and more current than a printed directory.)

The Yellow Pages can be an instructive analogy, though. Doctors run paid advertisements in the Yellow Pages. Similarly, doctors are required to pay to be included in online directories. This doesn’t make any doctor who pays to be included a bad doctor. He or she would not be listed without meeting what are quite demanding qualifications.

The problem is that an extremely well qualified plastic surgeon may not be willing to pay the directory publisher to be included. That doctor could be the finest surgeon in town, board certified in his or her practice, recognized by his or her peers as the best. If, however, he or she chose not to pay to be in the directory, you as a searcher wouldn’t know it, and you wouldn't learn about that doctor in this otherwise very helpful list. It’s not that you get false information. It’s just that you don’t get all the information.

What can you do about it? Use the directories, by all means. Look in more than one. A surgeon may have paid to be in one directory but not another. When you have zeroed in on the surgeon or surgeons that you want to advise you, go to the consultation with a list of questions.

1. Are you, doctor, board certified in the procedure I am interested in? May I see your certification?

2. How many other patients you performed this procedure for? Can you give me a short list that would be willing to comment on your work?

3. Can you show me before and after photographs of your work?

4. Am I a good candidate for this procedure? What are the chances of complications?

5. What can I expect after the procedure has been completed? What will recovery be like?

6. If you were unavailable to perform this surgery, who would you recommend in your place?

7. Can you give me the name of a patient who was not happy with your performance?

Question #7 is a real test. No surgeon is perfect. Each of them has had at least one patient that he or she did not completely satisfy. If the surgeon can’t answer that question, it should set off an alarm in your head.

Does it mean the surgeon thinks he or she is “perfect”?

Does it mean the surgeon has not paid enough attention to patients to know when one is not 100% satisfied?

Does it mean the surgeon has something to hide?

Incidentally, whether you contact the person the surgeon names or not is less important than asking the question and paying attention to he answer.

So, can you trust plastic surgery directories? More so than not.

In the words of a past President of the United States, however, “Trust but verify.

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