Dr Jonathon Sykes: What makes a good surgeon?

By October 15, 2015 October 30th, 2017 Plastic Surgeons

With a multitude of surgeons out there, it can be hard to determine whether or not you have found a good one. And what does that even mean? On what basis do we evaluate the technical ability of a surgeon and are we as patients, even equipped to make that evaluation?

So what makes a good surgeon anyway?

Qualification and scope of practice

This is your starting point. Make sure your surgeon is qualified to perform that surgery and that they are operating within the scope of their training. For example, a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon (FRACS) is not operating within the scope of their training if they were to perform heart surgery. Likewise, an orthopaedic surgeon is not operating within their scope if they were to perform breast augmentation.

The easiest method to determine the qualifications and scope of your surgeon is to look for the FRACS next to their name. Their speciality will also be indicated for example FRACS Plast. or FRACS ENT. Of course, not all doctors who perform cosmetic procedures have completed a fellowship with the Royal Australian College of Surgeons (RACS) so ascertaining the level of their training can be a difficult exercise, but very essential none the less.

Good diagnosis and technical ability

Now this is a hard one for prospective patients to find out. Most of us don’t have medical degrees and we lack the technical understanding needed to make that assessment. A good indicator of your surgeons ability is how they are viewed by their peers. Are they frequently invited to attend events as guest speakers? Are they involved in training the younger, more inexperienced surgeons? Have they taken on important roles within their governing bodies i.e. ASAPS, ASPS or AAFPS


Provided your surgeon has the skills to execute the surgery, this is probably the most important factor in deciding whether or not you will be happy as a patient. According to international surgeon Dr Jonathan Sykes, being a good surgeon is more then just the technical skill to perform the surgery. It begins with good diagnosis followed by technical execution of the surgery, but it also means more then that. It means caring for the patient after the surgery and this means being a good listener. So how do you find out if your surgeon cares? Reviews and surgery stories are helpful in this instance, particularly when the outcome was unsatisfactory.

Every surgeon, no matter how technically skilled they are, will have an unfavourable result through no fault of their own. What matters here is how it was dealt with. Did the surgeon listen to the patient? Did they work with them to find a resolution? What was the end result? Was the patient happy?

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