Dr Matthew Peters on Choosing The Right Surgeon For You

On the latest episode of the Aesthetics Uncensored Podcast we speak with Dr Matthew Peters who is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon from Valley Plastic Surgery based in Brisbane.
Dr Peters and his team of highly experienced staff are committed to delivering professional and personalised advice and treatments with a focus on patient care.
In this episode, we chat about choosing the right surgeon – FOR YOU! We also chat about how social media, word of mouth, credentials, and training has an affect when choosing your surgeon.
Enjoy this serious but fun podcast.
Transcript on Dr Matthew Peters on Choosing The Right Surgeon For You

Trish
Hello, everyone it’s Trish Hammond here from the Aesthetics Uncensored Podcast. And today I’m flying solo with Dr. Matthew Peters, who’s a Specialist Plastic Surgeon from Valley Plastic Surgery. So welcome, Dr. Peters.

Dr Peters
Thanks for having me.

Trish
This is like a habit almost isn’t that, like an addiction that I’ve got to chat to you on a podcast?

Dr Peters
It’s a regular gig.

Trish
It is, so tell us, we’re having crazy times at the moment but we thought tonight we’d have a bit of a chat about choosing. When you’re choosing a surgeon or practitioner to do your treatments, I guess that can cover a bit of non-surgical as well because like you guys do non-surgical there as well, don’t you?

Dr Peters
Yes, we do.

Trish
And I know it’s a really growing area but I guess even when you put people on as staff members, like you have to be really selective who you choose and all that. So let’s kind of run through it all. So choosing a surgeon, let’s start with a surgeon. What do people have to know? How do you get to choose the right surgeon for you?

Dr Peters
So I guess it comes down to what you’re wanting to have done and everyone has their own little issue that they’re wanting addressed. And then working out who out there and the general community of surgeons is the best person for the job. And the way to sort of work that all out is often through word of mouth and talking to friends and work colleagues and things like that. But that’s probably the communist way but then we also find that backing it up with looking on forums and seeing what other people have done, who’ve been looking at similar treatment options. And then looking at the credentials a bit further, to ascertain the training that someone’s undertaken. And getting a bit of an idea of how frequently they might do certain treatments or procedures, just trying to work out like, whether they’re the right person to do your particular operation or whatever. And then sort of going from there and and making that next step to actually meet with the person and then having that dialogue to see how their ideals fit with your concerns, and what sort of other things they do in terms of the procedure, the treatment, what the before care, the aftercare, all these things, there’s a lot to consider, before making that final john to actually go through with that particular treatment.

Trish
That’s a treat and I reckon as well, it’s really handy for people like I say this, although I’ve never done it myself, but I think if I was to have a consultation today I would do this, to actually just sit down and knock out all the questions that you do want to ask your surgeon, you know about what they do, like you said before, during aftercare and that procedure, how many they’ve done, and we can look at some before and afters or any questions that you want to ask, it’s probably good to have that prepared first. And maybe even one thing that I like the idea only because someone in the group said it is some they actually had like a list of three questions that they rang around to a few different clinics, as well to kind of see whether they felt that they resonated with the clinic, as well. I don’t know if that’s limiting for someone, because you might have the perfect doctor there for you and just because you haven’t got the right answer at the front desk that you may be kind of cut your nose to spite your face in that situation but I thought that was a good idea as well.

Dr Peters
Yeah, that’s interesting. I mean, I don’t answer the phones because we’ve got awesome staff. But yeah, I guess it comes down to what they’re asking and who is answering the right question. Because I mean, in our clinic, we’ve got quite a few doctors here and we all do different things. So I guess it depends on what they’re asking but yeah, that’s a clever way to sort of run around and then sort of as a way to try and work out where you go, it’s certainly pretty common for me to meet with someone who’s seen someone else before. They can be sort of a bit of a circuit that people do, where they’ll see myself and a few others before sort of making that decision. So yeah, ringing around before doing all of that is another version of that, I guess.

Trish
Because I guess some one lady in the group, she wrote that she’d run and asked for a rough estimate of prices. I know it’s really hard, but for her she already knew that if it was over like 30-50 whatever she said she wasn’t even going to go any further because she knew that she couldn’t afford that. So then, she rang around like that so I guess that’s probably it.

Dr Peters
That’s a really common thing like we get lots and lots of emails to our clinic. In relation to treatments, what we do and price and availability is the only one that comes up. And so certainly like those sorts of things, I’m really open to people sort of asking those things up front so that they’re not wasting their time. I don’t have a problem with them asking those sorts of questions at all before they come. So yeah, people say, you shouldn’t focus so much on the price and that’s all you get for what you pay for that type of thing. But yeah, certainly, I know myself and there’s certain things in life that if you knew how much it’s going to cost, you just go on lockdown there, because I can’t afford x y z and you’ve worked your means. And so yeah, that’s a really normal question that can be a differentiator 100%.

Trish
Exactly. Because if I could afford it, I’d have plastic surgery head to toe, but haven’t built the line. So you mentioned before, about word of mouth, it’s so true, because these days, people do go a lot on word of mouth. But now that we’ve got online, it’s almost like a digital word of mouth and that seems to be a growing arena where people want to speak to other people who’ve had the same thing that they want to have done, or is going to go planning on going to the same surgeon that they want to go to. So these online communities, I think these days are really important as well. But having said that, just because someone had great surgery with this doctor doesn’t mean the other person, it could be different because it’s a different person, hey, it’s still a personal thing.

Dr Peters
Or it is but yeah, I mean, the digital world, as you rightly pointed out, it really is a massive word of mouth forum. And it’s one of those things where I meet so many patients who come here, and will make comments about our read about you on this Facebook group, or that Facebook group or some other forum. I had a conversation like message back and forth with a previous patient of yours whose photos they had put up. There’s people I don’t have access to on any of these forums, because I’m one of the surgeons but their conversations with us, I saw this image and your scar result. And I really thought this particular person looked like me so I messaged them and I had a conversation and they told me x y z, so it’s really expanded that playground or workplace, water cooler conversation environment of these sorts of conversations. It just made them happen all the time and it’s a whole other world of word of mouth, which thankfully, for me, it’s been really positive. I meet lots of people doing those digital forums but yeah, it’s a different world to five or 10 years ago, that’s for sure.

Trish
Oh, that’s so true. It’s just it’s all it’s just happened. Like, suddenly, I think we started our group maybe in 2017, or 18 and we have quite strict rules on joining and stuff like that. And I think in one of those groups, there’s about 12,000 women, this is a women’s only group. And it’s true, like people who make their decisions based on someone else’s surgery, there’s no doubt about it as I experienced it like you can blow your own whistle as much as you want. But when someone else blows your whistle, it has like 10 times more impact.

Dr Peters
I completely agree and one of the things like, it’s volunteered quite frequently from patients who are new. I’ve just been consulting all day, for example, and there were a number of them, I made a comment about, I found out about you through this forum and I had a conversation with this person, and they do a lot of research. And they’re asking a lot of questions about what I do and outcomes and things like that before they come. And it’s funny, like, there’s been such a big focus previously on things like Google reviews and other little reviews and things like that. And in recent times, I think it’s more that online conversations, which are helping people make decisions on where to go compared to a lot of the review stuff. It’s really interesting and there is so much more conversation in this room about the forums and the conversations on the forums than anything else.

Trish
Yeah, it’s so true, because I think it’s almost like the Google reviews are just there for, I don’t mean to say tire kickers, but people that just want to look up stuff, but probably may never actually go. I don’t know, the Google you’re right, the Google reviews, I’m not quite so sure if they’re the be all and end all and everything.

Dr Peters
Well, I mean, I’ve got, I’ve got quite a few Google reviews, and they all just sort of happen. The thing was Google is that it just happens and there’s lots of different things that have them. It’s just interesting that everywhere we go, that way you’re going, there’s a Google review but the forums, it’s a conversation, and it really is a different level of interaction, instead of just reading something that says, Yeah, good surgeon, very happy with result. It’s a discussion where it’s often prompted by a photo in a forum. I had this surgery done by this person, and messaged me if you’ve got any questions, and then the conversations that I’m aware that people might the patients have told me, I interacted with this person who was on this forum, and they told me about this. And I finally met the nurse that they mentioned and it’s really interesting how much they know about us and me and clinic and everything. Before any of them had seen us. It’s a lot more involved than the simple reviews and all.

Trish
Yep. And I think as well, it’s sort of like, by the time they walk into your door, they are already 90% committed. I reckon, unless people are getting more than one opinion, which a lot of people do if they just like, if you walk in for me for walking somewhere, and I’ve had a consultation, and I just like, that’s perfect. I really like what to say, I would even bother having a second one, because that’s me but having said that, I have had two and three consult, because I just haven’t felt that, just haven’t been 100% committed, if that makes sense that one person. So I think that kind of changes things for people as well.

Dr Peters
Yeah, I mean, it’s really, it’s funny, like, that used to happen. We used to see a number of people that would sort of have seen one or two people and then be here and I have more. I’m just, maybe there’s more of that stuff is happening online, where people are sort of having those sort of conversations and trying to piece together in their mind, if someone’s gonna fit with them before, they’re sort of jumping in and saying or visiting multiple surgeons feel certainly the patients that are coming to see me these days, it seems a lot more targeted, instead of sort of doing the rounds and saying three or four before making a decision. There has been a shift and I don’t know exactly what’s behind all that.

Trish
Well, I reckon a lot a lot of it’s got to do with the fact that, for example, you’re out there, people have heard you on podcast, they’ve seen you on video so before they even walk in your door, they kind of have to know you a little bit. Whereas used to be the surgeon behind the door, you didn’t see them, whereas I think the guys that are and the girls and the non gender binary, the nonspecific gender ones as well. But I think they’re kind of like they’re a bit more open and out there so you kind of get to know the person before you even walk in the door for a console.

Dr Peters
Oh, yeah and I think that’s really important. I had surgery myself last year and the person that I went to, they had a video online and I was just talking about what they do and how they do it. And when I actually finally got to that point where I met with the person, I almost didn’t even want to have to open his mouth. It was like, Okay, great. Yeah, I know exactly why I’m here, what you’re doing. I’m really comfortable and I felt like I’ve met him before. It was a really bizarre feeling and it actually made me really appreciate as a surgeon, just the digital presence and doing videos and letting like just basically putting it out there that yeah, this is who I am. And it I think from that point, and we’ve done a lot more sort of video type stuff during some of the slowdown periods and stuff in the last 18 months, two years, so that people can get to know us a bit better before they may come. And it certainly makes for a less awkward conversation. I feel for some of the patients that come with some sensitive things they want to walk through. They sort of feel a lot more comfortable or come across as being a bit more comfortable. And I had a lady last Tuesday, who made the comment that she thought that she would be so nervous before turning up here and then as soon as she arrived, she said she just felt really calm because you’ve heard me talk about her issue, you know, on a video somewhere on YouTube, and it was all real. And here it was and it was as if we’ve met before so yeah, the digital stuff is really powerful.

Trish
Yeah, that digital footprint is so good and so how does someone like navigate the qualification thing like, last week I heard like Sydney’s in lockdown. And I’ve been watching this go on social media who has obviously had surgery, she’s had bbl treatment and liposuction when it’s only when we’re not supposed to be opera like, I don’t know, I was just actually blown away by that, I was just gobsmacked. So, people were actually having surgery in Sydney during lockdown and I’m kind of thinking, Okay, so who does this? How do people like to navigate what’s right and what’s wrong?

Dr Peters
Yeah, well, there’s a big campaign. And it’s across the world because when it comes to this, it’s elements of what plastic surgeons do. Then medical regulators and things like that have a bit of a tricky time actually working out who should be doing what and so across, I’m a fellow of the Australian royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and I’m also a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and I get communication from both areas. And so it’s not a unique problem to Australia, the fact that there’s a, there’s a group of people who are plastic surgeons, qualified plastic surgeons, fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, they’re members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, they’re members of the Australian society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. They’ve got all the university degrees, the college degrees, and all of this stuff, and they’re supported by the medical board so there’s this whole group who have all of that stuff, which took us all years to achieve. But the community out there, the lack of really strong and robust regulation means that the community is exposed to a group of practitioners who have a medical degree and the current standing from some of the medical board perspective is that if someone is happy to pay you to do something to them, then if you’ve got a medical degree, you’re allowed to do it. And it’s unbelievable that, that’s the stance but it’s where they sit, and the campaign that’s been run by ASAPS. So at the moment, trying to sort of bring a lot more robust discussion about who should be doing this sort of stuff is really highlighted some massive deficiencies and the regulatory environment that we’re in which does mean that when it comes to being patient, or consumer, someone who’s trying to work out who should be doing this surgery, it can be very difficult to navigate. Because we live in Australia, and a lot of the time, we assume that we’re a first world developed country, we’ve got ticks and checks and balances everywhere and everything we do. And yet, when it comes to this particular area of medicine, it can be very difficult for someone to actually work out who’s legitimately trained and who’s not. And so, that’s where like, the online discussions and things like that, and then all of those are word of mouth things. And then, the patient is actually being aware of that then, and that’s where the campaign. For example, from ASAPS know your surgeon, it’s all about actually saying, Hi, these are medical practitioners, these are surgeons who have gone out and actually gone through the process of doing a medical degree, but then starting the whole application process with surgical training. And we’ve just been through that across Australia for applications and selection into the plastic surgery training program and the level of competition to get on is phenomenal. And so these young doctors, we just got five of them in Queensland, which is a record for our state, really. But next year, we may get two or one, that’s such a competitive process. And then you go through five years of training, and then you decide on where you want to go within plastic surgery, in terms of extra post fellowship training, and then you go and work in public hospitals and then you think about private practices and all of that sort of stuff. And that process, it’s just so drawn out and so yeah, the surgeon campaign to sort of see who has done that and who has the relevant credentials, really important, and that’s where all the discussion points and forums but the patient’s themselves knowing that they can do extra homework and they can go to the ASPS website, for example, they can go to the ASAPS website, they can check to see that their surgeon is a qualified plastic surgeon. And they can see what their sub specialty areas are, and make sure that they actually do these things and are trained in these things, which is really important also, because when it comes to membership of a ASPS, or ASAPS, we have to be a member, you have to maintain a standard or obtain a standard, then you have to maintain it. And we abide by codes of conduct and all sorts of things that mean that if we’re not doing the right thing by someone, we’ve got someone to answer to so regulation is really important. And that’s where credentials and knowing that your surgeon is responsible and monitors their performance and is answerable to boards of other surgeons that appear. It’s really important, compared to the practitioners out there who don’t have that degree of scrutiny on them from any regulatory body, who are able to, in this current medical environment, still provide some treatments, without being so answerable to it.

Trish
So yeah, and with that, and then you’ve got the other question is like, when surgeons come from overseas, is someone who’s trained as a plastic surgeon in America, does that qualify over here? And you’ve got all of that messy stuff as well. It’s like, sometimes it’s almost impossible to navigate for patients to know who has a low qualification.

Dr Peters
Yeah, I mean, that sort of stuff. There are really robust pathways within the College of Surgeons here in Australia and New Zealand, in terms of the internationally trained surgeon, and in that criteria, quite amazing. So yeah, that sort of stuff. Someone coming through the right channels, ultimately would have an FRACS Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, as a set of letters after their name, if they’ve gone through the right channels and that’s the thing, if someone is really well trained, from the US, UK, whatever, then the college does do this process where they’ll say, you’re comfortable, or you’ve got to receive our exam to make sure you’re safe, or you need to supervise practice for a couple of years, and then sit the exam or your training isn’t comparable. So we needed to go through the whole process of trying to get into plastic surgery training here in Australia, and we see that all the time, those different types of pathways. So yeah, there’s a definite process to make sure who is coming from overseas and who the patient might be operating on. So they can be confident that if someone has an FRACS, that they deserve it and they’ve obtained it, and they should be safe to do and trained to do what that person is actually seeking them to do.

Trish
And say, for example, with them, when it comes to non-surgical, what would you recommend? Like, it’s really hard to navigate the non surgical space, it’s even harder than the physical space, as well because some of those treatments can be quite intrusive and dangerous as well, I suppose.

Dr Peters
Yeah. And that’s, I mean, in our clinic, we have a medical doctor who has decided to pursue non surgical treatments as the Korea and has the necessary training and being a doctor, they’ve got an understanding and I’ve got just different regulations when it comes to all sorts of stuff like the college that they’re with and the medical board and just follow the prescribing rules and all sorts of things so we haven’t we sourced and approached the medical doctor to join our practice and thankfully, they came on board. When it comes to the rest of the community with injectables and who’s doing what there’s, there’s a lot of different practitioners doing it. There’s, there’s doctors who do it on the side as GPs, there’s doctors who are working in training programs and emergency departments and all sorts of areas that are doing it on the side. There’s a lot of nurses, obviously, who do it. There’s all sorts of different strains that people can go through to get into the non surgical world and it does concern me at times, like, how do us a time that someone is able to do it if all they’ve done is a two day injecting person and that’s where it gets a little bit tricky, that nonsurgical world in terms of the advice that you provide to the to the patient in terms of where to go. And I guess it does come down to a conversation about word of mouth and talking to people and then going through the same thing. Were they attached to what clinic? Are they attached? What sort of training? What evidence or training, what credentials do they have? So it’s speaking to people, who may have been through the experience themselves, but then doing your own homework to see that? Yep, this is legitimate, and it’s a safe place to go and they will provide a standard of care, which is ethically and it’s treatment appropriate so that you get the service that you want and it’s done properly. And followed through and it’s just done well.

Trish
Yeah. I remember having injections done once, and I wasn’t happy with the outcome, as in, like I’d Botox in my forehead and I actually have discovered that I can’t have Botox in my forehead, because my forehead just drops. But I was so unhappy and I’d gone to such an esteemed clinic that they weren’t happy, no questions asked, just give me my money back. And then for me it spoke volumes, because it wasn’t actually their fault. It was actually my face, that was the fault of my body, I just cannot take it. But just the fact that because if I had gone to just some place around the corner that does injections that I hadn’t actually researched and thought, Okay, this is a really reputable business, they probably would have just said, like, sorry, bad luck kind of thing here was just even that, that was enough for me toI kept going back there, and I still do go back there, because I know that I can trust them and if something bad happens, what is or something good doesn’t happen. I’ve got to settle I think, when people, when businesses back themselves up like that, it just speaks volumes, because, look, I’m still there and I would have got your money back, no matter if he never comes back again.

Dr Peters
Yeah, I’m a massive believer and all of that. And yeah, certainly, a lot of my patients and I that was during my high school years, and part of my uni years, I worked as a brickie laborer, I worked in building sites, I worked as contract staff and I did heaps of that stuff. And, you know, just of the opinion that as a result of my time doing that, that you’ve got a task to do. And if it doesn’t turn out exactly what everyone thought it would, then you need to sort of brainstorm and come up with solutions to try and get the outcome you are wanting to achieve. And I’ll never forget one of my guys that I worked with. There was another chippy, and he put the door on upside down and then he had to redo it all and the guy that owned the business, he sort of said, Look, just get it down. And the young fella said, Oh, well, what do I do in terms of sending through adjusting the billing, then I said, they paid for a door to be the right way up and that’s just what we’ve got to deliver it, you can’t get paid to do it twice. So things like that, where within reason, like sometimes where things just happen, but certainly, I’m just a big believer. And if you’re seeking something and you just fall short of the mark, you are just going to work it out with the patient as to how you get the result and finances really important. And there’s moments where all of us and good surgeons and on and around town that will just say, look, if the scar was 100%, right, or if there was something that was a little bit loose or something to that effect, we just sort of try and really work it out for the patient and find a way that they don’t have to have big out of pockets just to have little revisionary things done. So it’s good to hear that I cleaned like that and didn’t work for you. We’re happy to sort of have that belief system and I said, Yeah, look, okay, let’s just work this out and yeah, it’s really respectful for them

Trish
And the thing is, when you do something like that, you can do great things and people will never find out about it, but do one bad thing, and everybody will know, but do something like that. And like I’ve seen them so many people over the years and if the result had been different, like if the outcome had been different with them and me I probably just would never have gone there again. Yeah, so that’s true. So is there anything that I should have because I specifically came up in conversation, do you know how to find the right surgeon for you? So I was really excited to have a chat, because just because the right surgeon is for my girlfriend doesn’t necessarily mean it might be the right surgeon for me, as well. So it’s about making sure that they’re qualified in what you want. They do a lot of what you want, you resonate with them as well. And it’s true, just google the heck out of them and see what you can find, watch videos, listen to your podcast, jump on Facebook Lives and jump into those groups that are out there for you.

Dr Peters
Yeah, and the big thing in all of that is just your credentials that might be really important and training really important. But for each patient, they’ve just got to think of the context of it’s them and what they want and what their body is, and finding someone who for what they need is the right person. And yes, you can listen to the guy, the server, you can listen to podcasts, you can listen to Facebook things, you can do all of that to help you, but meeting with that person and making sure that for the person themselves, it’s all relevant. It’s all what you want, the context is right. Then, yeah, that’s the final thing. You can get lots of opinions from all over the place, but it comes down to that individual making that decision themselves. That’s right.

Trish
Yep. So true. Thank you so much for tonight. That’s just been amazing. Before we go, can I ask you one more question or two more questions? What’s the last series that you watched?

Dr Peters
Last series? On TV? Yeah, I watched the Mare of Easttown, so that’s cool with Kate Winslet in it. That was pretty good, actually she’s amazing.

Trish
Excellent. Yeah. Was that last book that you read?

Dr Peters
I mean, I’m not to reading much since I finished all my training. I read articles and stuff online. I do all of that. But far out it’s hard for me to read a book, but I’ve got four kids and fire out. Well, yeah. There you go. I read Gary’s last week, so yeah, that was the last I read.

Trish
Excellent. Well, look, thanks so much for joining us tonight.

Dr Peters
Thanks for having me. Always good.

Trish
Awesome, so this is if you do want to get in touch with Dr. Matthew Peters of Valley Plastic Surgery, Fortitude Valley. It’s the bomb. I’ve been there myself a few times. So it’s an amazing place. Thank you so so much for joining us. Dr. Peters.

Dr Peters
No worries. Thanks for having me.

Trish
Thanks a lot. Bye.

 

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Well, like all good quickies it's time to dust off and get back to our day jobs! If you liked the podcast please rate us because we need the validation for our fragile hearts. If you have a story to share or have a burning question you would like us to cover please slide into our DM’s on Instagram at @transformingbodiespodcast. Stay positive, keep your boobs and chins high until we chat again xoxo Trish