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Safety and Plastic Surgery

How do you choose a plastic surgeon? Some people know the important things to look for, and others look for the wrong things. Read on to find out the right and wrong things to look for.

1) “I look for board certification.” That’s a great idea, but patients aren’t always aware what that means. A doctor who is board certified in, say, pediatrics is just the doctor you want to take your child to. They’ve spent three intense years focused on caring for children. A board-certified family practitioner is ideal for looking after blood pressure or diabetes. Would you see a board-certified plastic surgeon to manage your thyroid disease? Not if you want the best care. Similarly, if you are interested in plastic surgery, you should search for a doctor who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, not a like-sounding board.

2) “I love the before and after photos I see in ads.” There are a lot of good and bad things about before and after photos. Some are truthful, some are deceptive. Look at the position of the patient in each photo. Is it identical? Is the lighting the same? Is make-up contributing to the improvement? While you’re looking at those things, also ask yourself if you can name the surgeon. Some franchises offer procedures that are done by a surgeon who is assigned to you. The photos you see in the company’s ads may be the results of another surgeon. Know who is operating on you and what their real results are!

3) “I look for the surgeon I can afford.” Price is a great consideration when choosing things like hand soap or bottled water. But if you think the expensive surgeon costs a lot, consider how much an inexpensive surgeon can cost! Training in plastic surgery, a safe operating room, and excellent staff are all expensive. Make sure you’re not paying less because safety measures have been cut. Badly done surgery can be very, very expensive to fix, and sometimes it can’t be fixed at all.

4) “I look for a surgeon who does the procedure under local anesthesia.” Local anesthesia is very safe when used appropriately. However, with some procedures, general anesthesia is the safest type of anesthetic. Discuss the options with your surgeon. Some surgeons are not able to offer general anesthesia because they aren’t board certified in a surgical specialty or they haven’t invested in equipping their office. If they refer to general anesthesia as “dangerous,” they may have other reasons to do your case under local. If the best surgeons do a procedure under general anesthesia, do you really think it’s more dangerous?

5) “I need my surgery done next week, and I’m looking for a surgeon who can fit me in.” There are some things worth rushing: getting a smog certificate for your car or mailing a letter overnight. Surgery is not one of them. Who is more likely to be booked up next week, the surgeon with the best reputation based on his surgical results or the surgeon who is desperate for patients? Surgical results will be with you for a long, long time. Sometimes forever. It’s best not to have your surgery done before your high school reunion if your time frame is too short. Choose the best surgeon, not the best day for your calendar.

Protect yourself. You’re worth it!




Dr. Heather Furnas

About Dr. Heather Furnas

Inspired by watching her plastic surgeon father operate in African bush hospitals, Dr. Heather Furnas followed in his footsteps, training at Stanford and serving on the Harvard clinical faculty. She and her husband, Dr. Paco Canales, practice together in Santa Rosa, California, where they raised their two children. (To learn more about their practice, visit She believes an informed patient is more likely to be a happy patient and is committed to providing that education. If you have any suggestions for topics you'd like to learn more about, she would love to hear from you!

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6 Responses to Safety and Plastic Surgery

  1. Renee Blair says:

    Thank you Dr. Furnas, You are absolutely right. I had to learn the hard way that poor surgical results can be with you for a very long time, and those results can be very expensive to fix. But because Dr. Canalas and yourself are board certified surgeons, and don’t skimp on safety measures, nor rush surgeries, and are honest with their patients about what you can accomplish, I am happy that the surgical results I will live with forever are the positive ones I received from Plastic Surgery and Associates.
    I have researched many doctors in the area, and everyone of them I trust recommends you as the best and I couldn’t agree more.
    Renee B.

  2. Suzette says:

    I’ve researched lots of doctors in the North Bay as well, and you consistently come up as one of the best through patient recommendation, and I don’t think anything else could speak higher of your efforts.

  3. Britt says:

    Great tips! I am so eternally glad I was warned away from a local physician and referred to you. Looking forward to my consultation this year!

  4. Nicole Medeiros says:

    What a great helpful article!

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