Reputation Trumps Gender For Clients Choosing a Plastic Surgeon

Aesthetic Surgery Journal conducted a prospective study to determine patients’ preferred gender of a plastic surgeon. The study involved a single private practice of two plastic surgeons, one male and one female, who were both closely matched in training, experience, and reputation. Researchers asked two hundred consecutive women calling for a consultation if they preferred a male or female doctor and recorded their preference, age, and areas of interest. They found that 46 percent of female patients had no gender preference when it comes to choosing a doctor, 26 percent requested a female surgeon, and 1 percent requested a male. The remaining 27 percent requested a specific doctor, indicating reputation is more important to a patient than gender.

While patient gender preferences have been studied in other medical and surgical specialties, similar studies among plastic surgery patients have been primarily anecdotal. Greater public visibility of women plastic surgeons’ faces and voices on behalf of professional societies may help potential patients, particularly women, find a connection with the specialty. On the other hand, as more men seek plastic surgery, plastic surgery organizations and individual plastic surgeons, particularly men, may consider offering more educational materials for the male patient. The researchers note that their results would likely be different with a pool of male clients. Most female patients interested in aesthetic surgery have no gender preference. Of those who do, nearly all requested a female plastic surgeon. According to the researchers, the most significant finding is that a plastic surgeon’s reputation proves to be more important to potential clients than their gender.