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Selecting the “Right” Plastic Surgeon

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

Although the innovator Benjamin Franklin may have uttered these words more than Although 200 years ago, they remain true today more than ever. Especially when choosing a plastic surgeon.

Author John Ruskin too, made the following observation: “There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey. It’s unwise to pay too little.”

So what goes into the cost of a plastic surgery procedure? And why are there price discrepancies among what appears to be the “same” procedure among plastic surgeons? In short, it is quality, honesty, care, experience and talent. To illustrate these point here are a list of questions every patient should ask consider before proceeding with surgery:

  1. Is my plastic surgeon a plastic surgeon?

While that question may sound absurd, the reality is that probably up to half of the doctors in Beverly Hills performing plastic surgery are not  plastic surgeons.  Many general surgeons, dermatologists, ear nose and throat doctors, radiologists, and even pediatricians call themselves “cosmetic surgeons”.  A cosmetic surgeon is not a plastic surgeon.  Many  that are called “cosmetic surgeons” have taken weekend courses or buy teaching videos to “learn” the skill that took plastic surgeons several years of intense training to learn. Dr. Neavin trained as a plastic surgeon at one of the nation’s largest and most reputable programs, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center which has a long standing tradition of cultivating leading surgeon-scientists in the field of plastic surgery.  22 alumni of Pitt’s residency program have served at one time as Division Chiefs at nearly a quarter of the nations 90 plastic surgery programs. Pitt is one of the first “categorical plastic surgery training programs” in the United States, recognized by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. After completing training at Pitt, Dr. Neavin spent an additional year under plastic surgeon pioneer Richard Ellenbogen in an advanced aesthetic surgery fellowship.

Here what Dr. Ellenbogen had to say about Dr. Neavin:

“Doctor Timothy Neavin worked side by side with me for over a year while completing my post graduate advanced fellowship training program.He did his plastic surgery training at University  of Pittsburgh, one of the top programs in the United States. He is extraordinarily well rounded as a person being an excellent amateur screenwriter and former college  quarterback of his college where he also won highest academic honors.  He proved to be one of the best technical surgeons I have trained showing excellent judgment and compassion for his patients. He has an excellent artistic sense he translates to his patients procedures. He enjoys cosmetic surgery and has gleaned techniques from  some of the top surgeons in the world. He is a genuine person and really cares about his patients and does his best to please them. He is most important of all an excellent listener.”

  1. Is my doctor Board Certified in Plastic Surgery?

The two key components of this question are “Board Certified” and “Plastic Surgery”.  The accomplishment of Board Certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery  (ABPS) is no easy feat.  It is a grueling process that takes years of tests and case submissions for critical evaluation of safety and performance.  Board Certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery is often considered a “stamp of approval” among colleagues in the field and the pinnacle of achievement in the specialty.  Find out if a doctor is ABPS Certified here: https://www.abplsurg.org

Dr. Neavin was certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery in 2010.

  1. Does my doctor have privileges (permission) to do this operation in a hospital?

It is true that most plastic surgery procedures are done in a free-standing surgery center as opposed to in a hospital.  But this question is important because the answer is a solid marker for safety and experience.  A hospital WILL NOT credential a doctor to perform procedures for which he or she isn’t qualified to perform.  For instance, a hospital won’t permit a plastic surgeon to perform open heart surgery or remove a brain tumor in their operating room.  Surprisingly, there aren’t specific laws that prohibit such carelessness.    However, there are obviously safety and liability issues with such a thing that concern the hospital.  But surgery centers are generally more lax in credentialing and regulating, particularly if the surgeon offering the procedure is part of the credentialing committee or owns the operating room. If a surgeon does not have hospital privileges to perform the proposed procedure one should consider that information a red flag.

Those that have not met these requirements for ABPS certification (often because they are not a  plastic surgeon) often “join” the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery to claim some type of certification. This is mainly a group of general surgeons, dermatologists, ENT doctors, and other fields outside plastic surgery.  It is important understand this very, very big difference.

Dr. Neavin has privileges in 6 hospitals in Southern California to perform all of the surgeries he offers on his website.

  1. Will there be an anesthesiologist?

Many places that offer very low prices that use general anesthesia do not use an anesthesiologist.  Instead, they may rely either on nurses or the plastic surgeon to monitor this part of the surgery.  In other cost-saving measures, general anesthesia may be avoided altogether with the explanation that it is “safer”  to be awake.  Sometimes this is true.  But often, general anesthesia (where the airway is protected) is a much safer alternative than an unprotected airway. Dr. Neavin will always choose the safest anesthesia for his patients.  He will cut no corners and always be certain that your safety comes first. 

  1. Does my doctor have a favorable reputation among patients and peers?

There are plenty of online websites that welcome reviews from patients for doctors.  These can often be helpful.  Less important than any one review is the pattern and consistency of reviews.  Castle Connolly is an independent agency that awards doctors recognized for their excellence by other doctors.

Since 2011, Dr. Neavin has consistently received awards from Patient’s Choice Awards and Vitals. In 2014 he was award Top Plastic Surgeon by Castle Connolly.