Surgeons can fake reviews, doctor up pictures, and go incredible lengths to convince you they know what they’re doing. But an ethical plastic surgeon in a reputable practice doesn’t do any of that. They’re willing to talk to you and answer all your questions.

If a surgeon gets mad when you ask about their experience, you may want to look somewhere else. Go to someone who has done the procedure you’re considering hundreds of times and has the credentials to back it up.

Drs. Bharti and Kortesis share how to find the right surgeon for you, from the research process to the consultation. Find out the most important questions you should ask a surgeon when meeting them.


Speaker 1 (00:03):
You’re listening to Dr. Bill Kortesis and Dr. Gaurav Bharti on It’s Complicated, the podcast that uncomplicates the mental and physical aspects of life and the aesthetic surgery to help anyone committed to achieving their personal best.

Dr. Bharti (00:19):
Hey Bill, what should we uncomplicate today?

Dr. Kortesis (00:23):
Man, we’ve been uncomplicating a lot of things lately, boss, but, um, let’s talk about something that is near and dear to everybody who is looking for plastic surgery is how do they find the right surgeon for them?

Dr. Bharti (00:39):
I agree. Choosing a surgeon, you know, feels a lot more complicated than it should, and I think we’re gonna try to tell our listeners how we think they should, uh, choose.

Dr. Kortesis (00:49):
It’s pretty easy. It’s HKB. I mean, that’s look no further.

Dr. Bharti (00:55):
You know, I think it’s interesting. You know, the story that comes to mind is sometimes I really like when a patient’s seen like five docs before me. They see five docs before me. They’ve had different consultations. They’ve been all over the place. Some of them have been in town, some of them have been out of town, and then they come to see me or you or any of our providers. I often like to go through my consult and be very, very comprehensive. You know, you and I have slightly different consult style. It’s so funny to be like <laugh> in each other’s room to listen to it. I know there’s some funny comparisons that we could talk about in a different episode, but sometimes those patients are really interesting because I can very quickly tell during the consult, you know, they’re, they’re knowledge base what we’re talking about.

I can see how expressions, how they’re positioned in the chair, how they straighten up. When you start getting more interesting, when you kind of hit common ground, know what’s gonna happen. And I will say that most of those patients when they see me, those are some of the best ones because they’ve already had their consults and they’re just ready to grow. And they lock and load and somehow we end up on this common ground playing field. And a lot of the people who come to see me come to see you, I feel like are matched. A lot of them have done their diligence. So the question is, what diligence have they done? How did they come to find that we would be a good match for them? And, and how do we come to find that they’re a good match for us? I think that’s an important thing that patients forget is, all right, I get it. They are choosing us, but let’s be frank here, we get to choose who we take care of and operate on.

Dr. Kortesis (02:32):
Yeah, it’s a marriage, right? I mean, you both have to be comfortable with each other. I mean, we say no all the time. If, if I can’t give a patient what they’re looking for, heck no, I’m not doing the surgery. Not gonna happen. But if what I can do matches with what they want home run all day long, let’s do the surgery. But you, you asked the question or you were alluding to asking the question, how do they find us, right? Like you always coined this term, like this marketing ecosystem, this web ecosystem. And I think that’s what ends up occurring. They might hear bits and pieces about us from a friend or somebody else, and then immediately they go online, check our website out. And then they go to your social media page and make sure that you check the boxes for good results.

Then they go check on your reviews and they read your reviews and make sure that those are positive. And the cool thing is, and I’ve done enough research on this, patients wanna make sure that these reviews are authentic. How can they tell that they’re authentic? Is the people that are writing them making sure there’s a few negative ones, right? They’re, nobody’s gonna have glowing reviews all the time cuz you’re not gonna please everybody. Unfortunately, that’s just the nature of the business. You can’t make everybody happy. But if it’s an overwhelming majority, they have to justify it on the review site. So they do their homework, they do their due diligence and make sure that it matches with what you want. And I always, always found that the patients who come to see me are typically twofold. One, they like the interventions that I can provide and we match personalities. And it’s very interesting and I learned it very early on in my practice where the patients that were seeing me were completely different patient population that saw my partner at that time when I first started Joe Huntstead. And I would say that we probably have a different patient population as well.

Dr. Bharti (04:25):
Yeah, no doubt. And I think, you know, this is an interesting thing and you know, I think we have to put ourselves in our patient’s shoes. All right, so I want to go see a, a plastic surgeon. What should I, or do I look for? One thing that everybody talks about is board certification. And board certification is like, it seems like a simple concept, but sometimes it’s way too complicated. I mean, what does it even mean at times? And then, then some people are board certified one time, some people are double board certified, some people are triple board certified. Hell, I’m sure somebody’s freaking quad board certified. You know, is a quad board certified person better than me because I’m just single board certified in plastic surgery? Can you answer that Bill? I mean, are they better qualified than I am?

Dr. Kortesis (05:05):
Heck no. But here’s the thing is like how do the patients decipher this? How do they understand in the end you want to go to and, and these are the things I always say, go to a very reputable place and make sure that the doctors there are doing what they say they’re gonna do and they follow through on it and ask around, make sure that everything’s okay. The other thing I always say is if you’re gonna have somebody do your surgery, tummy tuck, facelift, rhinoplasty, make sure they do a lot of ’em. You don’t wanna go to the person who does one of anything, you don’t wanna say, well you know, I did one last year. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make people feel good. You want to go to a place where they do a lot. What does a lot mean? I’m talking hundreds of that procedure.

Dr. Bharti (05:57):
So this is important. And I think bringing it to nuts and bolts is you wanna make sure their credentials are appropriate, right? Right. So you want, they gotta be a, a doctor, they have to be a surgeon. So they have to have real surgical experience, they have to have experience doing these things on their own. But what about somebody who’s brand new who just started their practice? Then you need to find out where they were trained, how many they didn’t training. All those things are numbers that you can actually get and access or ask the provider if the provider gets mad when you ask them, Hmm, that’s reason to move away and find someone else. So I think that’s a really important, so I think Bill’s hitting on, I mean experience and then word of mouth, that can be real word of mouth, that can be online, word of mouth, that can be reviews, word of mouth, that can be before afters. And then the other is gonna be just credibility and reputation. I think those are really important. Sometimes it’s as simple as the bedside manner, not only of the provider but also of the team. You know, is this someone that you want actually taking care of you? All those things are really important, right?

Dr. Kortesis (06:59):
It’s a feel that you get when you go into a place. You know, when you walk into something and you’re like, ah, this is not, I don’t get a good feeling. That’s usually a good sign of, I, I shouldn’t be here. And how many stories have you heard G, a patient’s going outta the country or somewhere else? And I’m not disparaging any docs cuz there are some amazing doctors outside the country, but they’ve been in areas or situations where it is not very accommodating and all the red flags come up. So you have to feel very comfortable and confident in the place that you are.

Dr. Bharti (07:36):
And you just need to be careful. You can’t nickel and dime something like this or really anything related to your health. I would just be cautious about that with anything. Now at the end of the day, like Bill mentioned, there are freaking phenomenal people all over the world who perform aesthetic and imagine some are just incredible, but with, with any kind of thing with industry and with things that are related to people making money, they can be abused. So people’s credentials could be not what they seem or the facilities that they work in could not be, um, ideal or there could be high risks of infections. That’s an important thing is, all right, not only are you trying to see if this guy has got, or gal’s got X reviews and you go to the office and it’s like, uh, or you ask about the, or is this or, or an accredited or does this or use, you know, do you have the ability to use any kind of anesthesia, et cetera.

You wanna know that whatever can go wrong, if it goes wrong there, they can handle it. So people ask us that all the time. Well what do you do if something happens is there’s a problem? Well, fortunately in our situation, we have six ORs. We usually have anywhere from forward to six surgeons onsite operating. We have anesthesia providers, we have multiple anesthesia providers, we have every one of our nurses usually has worked in an I C U. So we actually have a very high level of care to take care of issues that could potentially happen. So you always have to think, what if, what would you do in the worst situation? What if I get a hematoma, who’s gonna take care of me? Can you guys do it in your surgical center? Do I have to go to the hospital? Who’s gonna cover those costs?

These are all things that patients need to consider and make sure that there is at least a plan to take care of them. Because listen, if everything was simple and easy, it would be amazing. But that’s not life. Life is interesting. Life is complicated. Plastic surgery is complicated. And the way that you get to the best outcome is how you deal with those things and make it uncomplicated. And I think that one of the other concepts, bill, is, so you look at some of ’em, how do patients decipher when they’re evaluating for surgeons? Because like you said, the online ecosystem, that’s how people find people. Now can you just create a figment online ecosystem? Can you just get fake reviews? Can you get followers? Can you edit photos? How do patients navigate through that to figure out who’s legit, who’s not?

Dr. Kortesis (09:45):
Yeah, it it’s a pretty scary world out there with social media and unfortunately with the onset of AI and what AI is doing and the deep fake concept, it’s gonna get scarier as time goes on. So patients are gonna have to get a lot more savvy in terms of who they choose. You can fake reviews, you can fake pictures, you can, you can adjust all things. But if it is a real ethical surgeon and plastic surgeon and a reputable location, we don’t do any of that stuff. Gee, have you ever doctored a picture up? No, I’m gonna go and tell you right now. No, that’s a hard note. It’s a hard no. I mean, so my point is, every picture you see on Instagram, that’s G, or every picture of mine unfiltered, undoctored up. It is real life.

Dr. Bharti (10:30):
And I would say when it, the interesting thing, this is like goes back to like one of our first episodes, like what is beautiful? And often the things that are beautiful are having flaws, asymmetries, subtle, you know, differences. And so if something looks too freaking good to be true or almost artificial, there is a chance that it could be. And I think you have to look at things with a discerning eye. One of the other things is gonna be something that’s reputable and, and it’s an an institution where you’re, you’re going to be taken care of and safe where it’s important for them. Patients don’t realize, at least for us, it is incredibly important for you to have a exceptional result and a great experience. And if you don’t, it’s like, oh, oh my God, it’s a failure. I feel terrible about that. I wanna,

Dr. Kortesis (11:16):
It’s gut wrenching if it’s not perfect. I mean it’s like you want it to be perfect and you are as honest as a day as long G and the same for me and the same for the providers that we have in the office. And we have this code of conduct and ethics within our practice that we follow. So that’s the initial thing. But as a whole, if you’re a plastic surgeon and you belong to the Aesthetic Society, we actually have a global code of conduct that we have to abide by and and ethics. And if you don’t, you can get kicked outta the society. So I’ll tell you another uh, badge that we carry is being a part of the synthetic as society of plastic surgeons because it’s a pretty distinct badge, right? Not everybody can do that. Not everybody can be part of this group, but what it does do is it says, okay, you’ve done a number of cosmetic surgery cases and you’re abided by this code of ethics and you have to do these standards, otherwise you’re not a part of the group.

Dr. Bharti (12:13):
Yeah, that’s a great point. And you know, here are a couple things that I think would be red flags or things to be cautious about and you know, Bill, chime in and see if you kind of wanna elaborate. I think one is price, bargain shop. I think you just gotta be careful because if they’re doing 20 of this in a day, there’s something to be said about fatigue and it’s about what are they doing, if it’s that cheap, what are they doing honestly to, to stay alive from a revenue standpoint and keep their lights on? They’re cutting costs somewhere else. And that to me can be alarming. And so when I start thinking about that, I’m like, Ooh, that could be a scary thing. The other is someone who’s pushy. Someone who’s pushy, pushy. I try to be as un pushy as possible. Right. Bill? I mean, I don’t wanna push anybody into any of this. I want them to be all in on their own.

Dr. Kortesis (13:04):
Yeah, we, we tend to, uh, actually told a patient last week the same exact thing. You know, I saw her in consult multiple times and she couldn’t make up her mind about what she wanted. And I was like, I I don’t know if we’re, we’re not ready to do surgery, we’re canceling your procedure, we’re waiting. And you have to come back and say, I want this before we move forward. So yeah, if you have somebody who’s a, a pushy salesperson, run, run, run, run, run, run.

Dr. Bharti (13:31):
Here’s another one. Not meeting your surgeon before the day of surgery in any way. This happens like a lot. I mean this is like the model of some of these body contouring places in the US and also happens a lot in places, you know, that have ultra high volume like in Miami and other places where you actually haven’t met the provider who’s gonna be doing your, your intervention. I just couldn’t do it cuz like, there’s too much in planning, there’s too much in discussion, there’s too much at stake. And I think outcomes could be compromised. Now, don’t get me wrong, I mean some of these providers are probably just phenomenal. So I’m not knocking them, I’m just not. But I, I’m knocking the, the methodology of it and I think it’s just, I don’t know why a patient would wanna do that

Dr. Kortesis (14:16):
Because it’s not a one, it’s not a one size fits all procedure, right? If somebody’s coming again for liposuction, it’s like not, I’m not doing the same liposuction I would do for every patient, right? Everything is unique and different.

Dr. Bharti (14:28):
And it’s special. Like, it, it’s like you really have to figure out what’s right for this individual and it takes understanding of that and it takes a provider to make sure they know it and make sure they’re capable of it. So I think that it’s super important. What’s your thoughts on medical tourism going outta the USA to get something done?

Dr. Kortesis (14:48):
I think it’s okay. Uh, actually I, I have no with it again, I go to the same standards that I’ve talked about. Is the place reputable, do they have good docs? Am I meeting the doctor before I end up going to do any procedure? Do they do a lot of these? Again, on breast aug. Are they using right products? God bless the U S A is like we really, the FDA here limits products from getting into the marketplace for a reason because they do studies and analyze everything before the products are allowed to be put in the, in in use in the United States. And so for that matter, the laws are not as strict outside the US So you gotta be very careful of that. That that’s a real caveat in addition to everything else we’ve talked about. But yeah, for me, if I’m gonna do something, I really wanna know who the person is.

I wanna have met ’em beforehand. I wanna meet ’em, you know, face to face. I wanna talk to ’em. How many procedures of of these do you do? You know, one of the things we didn’t talk about, we’re trying to uncomplicate things. We all know surgery, bad things happen. It’s the nature of of the beast that complications can occur. We’ve already discussed that. But what are those complications? What are the most common, what are the most common that you as an individual provider have and what happens? And this is the key, and I tell every patient this, what happens if I have one of those and I’m under your care? Yeah. What is it and what are my costs associated with that?

Dr. Bharti (16:13):
A hundred percent. And the other thing is gonna be what happens when it’s, when I’m back in the US, who do I go to? What do I do? I think all those things need to be ironed out. And the truth is, if they go to one of our colleagues in Columbia, South America or in Brazil or wherever and they’re want to go to someone who’s, you know, a well-known high-end provider, chances are we’re gonna know ’em and they’re gonna set up the follow up for them. And I think like those things are great as long as there’s a plan and there’s organization. The thing is things can happen and they can happen two days afterwards, four weeks afterwards, six weeks afterwards, six months afterwards, a year afterwards. And so there just needs to be thought given to this. And like we do stuff in the US, like I have friends all over this country, Bill, and, and we have friends outside the US too that we’ll work with.

But like for example, one of, uh, our friend Brad Calabrese patients moved to Charlotte and so we’re taking over care and it’s like, no problem, we’re not, we’re not charging that patient anything. We’re colleagues. We are part of the same society, the same ecosystem. So we want to take care of that patient regardless. And I think we would do that for international surgeons too, cuz we’re part of an international aesthetic society as well. So there are things that happen and at the end of the day, like you and I, our practice, we want to take care of patients. So I think that’s not a bad idea. It just, there needs to be a good plan. One other red flag that I that could be is that if you can’t get an ID or a feel of what this provider’s results are like, meaning if there’s no photos or they won’t provide ’em for something, I think that’s a obvious red flag. But sometimes patients can get hoodwinked by a price, for example. So I think I would be cautious about that. Let’s talk about what you think would help you. Yes, you should choose this provider. So let’s just make sure they understand what board certified is. So what is, what type of board certified provider should they be?

Dr. Kortesis (18:01):
Oh, so for us to get board certification in our specialty for plastic surgery, we have to go through an accredited plastic surgery residency program. We have to then pass a written examination saying that we understand all the knowledges of, of our field in plastic surgery. And that’s after we’ve graduated from this accredited residency, right? We, we’ve met the criteria to graduate, we take a written exam and then afterwards we have to collect a set number of cases. We have to present those cases to our plastic surgery board. They have to approve these cases. And then we have to go sit for an oral examination where we review these cases and go over not only those cases but potential cases that we would see in our office. And we have to pass that. And it’s a very rigorous process to become board certified in our specialty in plastic surgery.

Dr. Bharti (18:57):
And you said something really important. I I didn’t mean to interrupt you, but it’s important you said board certified in plastic surgery. So that’s different than board certified in family medicine and somebody’s doing a surgical cosmetic procedure that is distinctly different. And so I think that’s what patients need to understand and dig into. So when the provider says they’re board certified, you need to find out what are you board certified in?

Dr. Kortesis (19:20):
No. In addition to that, we have to have a maintenance of our certification where we do a set number of continuing medical education year after year after year with set criteria that we have to perform to maintain our board certification. And as part of that process, we have to maintain hospital privileges in plastic surgery in order to, to do these plastic surgery procedures. So another red flag, if somebody just operates outta their office and they, you ask them the question, Hey, if there’s a complication, what hospital are we going to? And they can’t give you that hospital, they don’t have privileges at said hospital.

Dr. Bharti (19:58):
Right. And the other thing is gonna be, we have a fellowship in our practice. So we actually do a, um, American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons Fellowship where surgeons who have completed all of their plastic surgery training do another year with us. So I think if your surgeon has credentials where they’ve done all the stuff that we talked about and they went and did even more training in aesthetic plastic surgery, I think that makes them a wonderful potential candidate as a, as you’re a surgeon as well. Some of the simple things though, Bill, are just when you’re talking to a surgeon, they’re willing to talk to you. You know, if they’re patient, they answer all your questions, they have good bedside manner, those things are really important. You mentioned ’em earlier, but I think they’re more important than anything that visceral kind of connection and feeling.

Dr. Kortesis (20:43):
So be authentic, be transparent, be real. That’s who H K B is and that’s who you and I are. And that goes a long way and you and I both say no to a bunch of stuff all the time. And the other beautiful thing is if you come see me and I’m not your right provider, I will say, you know what? I have another doctor in our practice that does this a lot more than I do and I think you’re better suited for this individual. And I have no problems with that.

Dr. Bharti (21:13):
We’re fortunate to have the, the support for like each other as providers to give that to our patients.

Dr. Kortesis (21:19):
But that goes beyond just our practice though. I mean, we have colleagues in the region and you know, we’re not opposed to calling somebody or talking to them. And I’ll tell you a little short story and it ties both of these concepts into one. I had a patient come in getting a second opinion about a procedure that they ultimately had and had a complication and you know, talks to the patient, it was a virtual consult, saw the patient, saw her pictures in addition to that and said, okay, I’ve, I’ve seen this complication before. I think these are steps and options you have to, to fix it. You know, do you mind telling me who your surgeon was? I’m happy to give them a, a phone call. I think if this was my problem I would like to take care of it. I know you say the same thing G so I know your surgeon would be interested in taking care of this and if they’re not done one of these procedures before, I’m happy to kind of walk through them with what, what I would do.

And the patient said, yeah, I had it in the region. I’m like, well, yeah, we g and I know pretty much every plastic surgeon in, you know, the Southeast and United States for that matter, but particularly in North Carolina, right? If they’re a plastic surgeon in North Carolina, you’re gonna know ’em cuz there’s a very, very small community. And this patient had surgery in North Carolina. I’m like, yeah, let’s please tell me who it is. I’m happy to give ’em a call and, and tell ’em I saw you and this is what I would end up doing. Lo and behold, the patient gave me a name. I didn’t recognize the name. I ended up doing a little Google search, found the provider, looked them up, looked at their website and found out they were not plastic surgeons in general. So this person was practicing a different specialty and I think her specialty was family practice and ended up doing cosmetic procedures.

And so the patient didn’t understand that that provider, just because they, they said they’re a cosmetic surgeon, didn’t understand that they weren’t a plastic surgeon. And again, I, I don’t wanna disparage any to cosmetic surgeons out there cause there’s some that are great, but if you don’t have the requisite training and you don’t have the requisite ability to be able to do these procedures and know the complications that occur, you’re probably not the right provider to do the surgery. So it, it goes back to, you know, do your homework, do your diligence, make sure that you know what you’re getting into.

Dr. Bharti (23:28):
Yeah, I think we’ve had a great discussion and, you know, to leave our patients with the simple thought is when you figure out you’re gonna have something done, you need to, um, start by doing your diligence. I think meet several surgeons, check everything, evaluate their online ecosystem. So it’s like a multi-pronged approach for you to get to where you need to go. And then you have your consultation and if you’re not sure you come back in and chat again. If somebody says that they, you can’t come in for a second consult or even a third consult, like, we will do it. I mean, it’s fine. I, we wanna make sure there’s good communication. I think that can be a red flag too. The end of the day you should just exhaust all doubt before you have an intervention and then you move forward. And if there’s anything that’s holding you back then I think you have to listen to that kind of inner voice.

Dr. Kortesis (24:20):
And don’t hesitate to ask the practice to talk to a patient who’s undergone this procedure before. I mean, we’re willing to do that all the time. And it’s like, all right, you know, you want a body lift? Great, let’s pick our last 20 to 30 patients who’ve had a body lift and let’s call ’em and you can chat with any one of them to understand their experience and their journey.

Dr. Bharti (24:41):
Awesome. Well, this has been a good topic, listeners. We, uh, enjoyed this episode today and we wanna know what’s complicating your world. We want to hear from you. So send us your burning questions and we’ll answer them on the podcast. Check the show notes for the link to send your questions, and please follow us on Instagram at hkb cosmetic surgery.

Speaker 1 (25:03):
Links to learn more about anything mentioned on today’s show are available in the show notes. To learn more about Dr. Bill Kortesis and Dr. Gaurav Bharti, and the entire team of HKB Cosmetic Surgery, just go to hkb or follow HKB on Instagram at HKB Cosmetic Surgery. Subscribe to our newsletter for key takeaways from each episode, links to any resources we discuss and promo codes or giveaways from HKB and our partners. If this show has helped you in any way, if you learn something, write a review on Apple Podcast and share the podcast with a friend. Take a screenshot of this podcast episode with your phone and show it at your consultation or appointment or mention the promo code PODCAST to receive $25 off any service or product of $50 or more. It’s complicated. It’s a production of the Axis, the