What to Look for in Empire Plan Plastic Surgeons

You’re not limited to in-network Empire Plan plastic surgeons. An out-of-network surgeon may be a better choice.

Surgeons often get stereotyped as being cold and impersonal. In some cases, that’s by design. An emergency room surgeon isn’t going to have time to get to know their patients on a personal level before they operate. That interaction, however, can make some believe that all surgeons are expected to be as impersonal and distant. But plastic surgery is different. You need a close relationship with your doctor to ensure you get your desired results. As you examine your options in Empire Plan plastic surgeons, it’s important to keep that in mind. 

How To Choose an Empire Plan Plastic Surgeon 

A lot of people struggle to find the right Empire Plan plastic surgeons because they make a mistake right off the bat when beginning their search. They limit their options to only in-network providers, and understandably so. There’s a pretty big misconception about what out-of-network means. 


Out of Network 

An in-network provider has a contract with your insurance company. As a result, they may get discounted rates for certain services. As part of that contract, the provider also agrees to not bill you for balances that your insurance company doesn’t cover—aka balance billing. Finally, your Empire Plan will cover more of a percentage, and have reduced copays, for in-network providers.
All of that sounds pretty good until you consider how narrow the plastic surgery field is. Many plastic surgeons don’t want to work with insurance at all, only allowing self-pay. The plastic surgeons that are in-network with your insurance may not have expertise in the type of surgery you need.

An out-of-network provider doesn’t have a contract with Empire Plan. That’s it; that’s the whole definition of out-of-network. As a result, your insurance company may charge more for copays or cover less of a percentage of the cost. The provider is also not limited from balance billing and can charge the patient for things that insurance doesn’t cover.
It’s important to notice the “can” in the statement above. An out-of-network provider also has the flexibility to write off charges and negotiate billing with the patient. This choice immediately expands your access to all plastic surgeons who take insurance rather than the ones who just have a contract with Empire Plan.

A lot of out-of-network problems arise from emergency situations. The person was unable to choose their provider and then received a massive bill for going somewhere out-of-network. But if you can plan in advance, the cost of out-of-network care won’t be a surprise. You may even be able to get your bill to be comparable to what an in-network provider would cost. The only way you know for sure is by doing a consultation with the surgeon. So, when looking for an Empire Plan plastic surgeon, don’t limit your list. Don’t just focus on what’s in-network—focus on getting the results you want by choosing the right doctor. 

Choosing the Right Surgeon for You: 4 Questions to Ask  

If you Google questions to ask a plastic surgeon you’re probably going to get a lot of plastic surgery-specific ideas. How long is my recovery time? What results can I expect? What will my scar look like? These are probably questions you’re already prepared to ask that literally any plastic surgeon could answer. But there are other questions you can ask that can help you gauge that specific plastic surgeon’s expertise: 

1. What are your certifications?

Doctors include a lot of letters after their names that indicate what credentials and certifications they hold. They’ll also list their certificates on their websites or in their bios. Here are the big three that you should look for in your provider:  

  • FACS: The Fellow of the American College of Surgeons credential is not just for plastic surgeons. It applies to anyone who has exhibited the ethical and medical competence to perform surgery. 
  • ABPS: This credential from the American Board  of Plastic Surgery means that your doctor has passed rigorous standards to be considered an expert in plastic and reconstructive surgeries. This is typically the credential that doctors who are “board certified” hold.  
  • ASAPS: The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery certification is exclusive and made up of plastic surgeons dedicated to advancement in the field. 

Those three credentials will tell you about your plastic surgeon’s experience and abilities. They may also have regional credentials and belong to medical societies specific to New York that you can review on their websites or online bios. 

2. How many of these surgeries have you done before?

While everyone has to start somewhere, it probably doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in the patient to be a surgeon’s first. Plastic surgeries are complex procedures that require a lot of experience. Ask your surgeon how many times they’ve performed the specific procedure you’re looking for. Ideally, they’ll answer “too many to count.” If the figure is over 100, you’ll know you’re in good hands.

3. What surgical techniques do you use?

There are a lot of different ways to perform plastic surgery. For example, if you’re asking about breast reconstruction surgery, you may hear the term implant reconstruction or flap reconstruction. Those are the two primary techniques that are used but they’ve been adjusted throughout the years to improve results. 

For example, someone undergoing reconstruction who wants to preserve their nipple and avoid multiple procedures would be interested in direct-to-implant reconstruction. Usually, what happens is during the mastectomy, the doctor puts in a temporary implant (tissue expander) that will be filled with saline over some time before it is exchanged for the permanent implant. In a direct-to-implant reconstruction, there is no temporary space holder. The implant goes in at the time of the mastectomy.

By asking the surgeon about the specific techniques they use, you’ll get a better idea of what you can anticipate regarding results and recovery. Not all doctors will be well versed in the same techniques, so it helps to know exactly where their strengths lie.

4. What hospital admitting privileges do you have? 

Finally, you want to know what admitting privileges your doctor has. That means that a hospital allows them to admit patients and treat them at that facility. While your plastic surgeon may have an on-site operating room, it’s still important that they have access to a local hospital.

Aside from those four questions, pay attention to the questions the surgeon asks you. They should want to know about your health history, activity level, occupation, goals with the surgery, and desired results. Your discussion with your potential surgeon should be an interview for both of you to see if you are the right fit.

When looking for an Empire Plan plastic surgeon, you want a personality match with an experienced doctor who takes the time to get to know you. That’s the best way to get what you want out of your plastic surgery.

Bringing Patient Advocacy to Breast Reduction and Reconstruction

Harris Plastic Surgery is a top choice when you’re looking for Empire Plan plastic surgeons. We take the time to get to know our patients and help them navigate the complex insurance process. To learn more, schedule a consultation.

Stephen U. Harris, MD FACS

Dr. Stephen U. Harris is a board-certified cosmetic surgeon and recognized expert in breast reduction and reconstruction surgeries, having performed thousands in his career. When it comes to patient care, his philosophy is that every surgery should improve his patient’s overall quality of life, not just their appearance. Dr. Harris stays up-to-date on all the latest advancements in breast augmentation, reconstruction, and reduction and is a recognized innovator in the field. In fact, he was the first surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital to offer primary prepectoral implant breast reconstruction, as well as secondary prepectoral revision surgery.

Dr. Harris also serves as Chief of Plastic Surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York and is an active staff surgeon (and former Chief of Plastic Surgery) at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, New York.

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