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Is It Better To Be A Generalist Or A Specialist In Plastic Surgery?

When prospective patients find themselves seeking out their trusted surgeon for their cosmetic procedure, how is it possible to separate the ‘do it all’s’ from a specialist in plastic surgery?

You can choose to either be a specialist in your field, or a plastic surgeon who offers everything. What one wishes for is a personal choice and both options come with their advantages and potential downsides.

A question plastic surgeons may often ask themselves is, is it better to be a generalist or specialist in the plastic surgery industry?

This raises the question, which way of working will help a practice succeed more.

The Struggle For Patients To Set Practices Apart

If, on the surface, all practices seem to be relatively similar, it can become extremely difficult for prospective patients to identify their best fit.

This is where it becomes extremely beneficial as a practice to correctly showcase who you are. 

If all practices have the same tagline, or speak about the same goals and all offer the same procedures, it becomes almost impossible for prospective patients to know which practice is going to fulfil their needs in the best way.

Adam Horoun states how practices should stay away from promoting their unique selling point as anything attached to the ‘latest new technology or machine’.

By doing so, it creates an easy opportunity for another practice to do the same, and charge a lower fee. 

Instead, practices need to get clear on their unique voice. The advantage of being a specialist can play a role in this. 

The Advantage Of Being A Specialist In Plastic Surgery

Being a specialist within the plastic surgery industry means that you can focus on specific procedures. Thus, pushing your practice with specialism in a specific area.

Dr. William Rahal is an example of this. Known for his 360 Liposuction and BBL procedure. Through his years of specified training and promotion of this procedure, he has made a name for himself as a true specialist. 

This creates an advantage, the ability to become known for something that is likely to spread through word of mouth.

More Practice Leads To Better Performance As A Specialist In Plastic Surgery

As a result of being a specialist in plastic surgery, surgeons will ultimately spend a large portion of their time performing select procedures. Therefore, it can be argued that the more a surgeon performs a procedure, the better the quality of their work becomes.

Continuous practice is what will put a surgeon on their road to success. 

Explore our podcast episode with George Rahal

Increased Knowledge 

In addition to more practice enabling better procedure results, being a specialist is in line with high knowledge.

Whether it’s years of extensive training focused on a specific area, or many years of performing a specific procedure, knowledge will help a surgeon learn and discover new opportunities to improve. The result of their understanding creates an opportunity to better educate patients. 

When surgeons have the ability to educate patients this builds trust and makes them better informed.

If a surgeon is able to give thorough knowledge, this helps with:

  • – No unforeseen surprises for the patient due to not being informed correctly.
  • – Happier patients as they have likely been able to have all of their queries answered in detail. This is as a result of the surgeon’s knowledge.

Building Trust

One of the main benefits of being a specialist an immediate level of trust is made. When patients search for a practice, it is usually for a specific procedure.

Possible Downsides Of Being A Specialist In Plastic Surgery Procedures

One of the main possible disadvantages with being a specialist is that practices will inevitably only be relevant to a select number of people.

This can be argued to lower the number of potential patients, however, considering the advantages above, practices can gain attention from a select but concrete number of patients.

In addition, surgeons may be less likely to push themselves out of their comfort zone if they are used to only performing a certain procedure.

This may lead to lack of confidence in other areas. Also, the inability to move forward and experiment with with emerging trends could limit success of a practice. Therefore, there is a risk of missed opportunities. 

The Advantage Of Being A Generalist

Having explored all of the possible positive aspects to being a specialist, there are also plus sides to consider from the generalist point of view. 

Being a generalist allows you to open your practice to a wide range of patients, seeking a variety of different procedures. This may prove more beneficial to some patients.

Many patients who may have had previous surgery. Or possibly want to have several procedures performed. This patient may take more comfort in a generalist surgeon.

It can be argued that it’s better to know a little bit about everything, rather than a lot about one thing.

These are the specific kind of patients that will make being a generalist an advantage. Due to their desire to have multiple procedures performed. 

The Disadvantage Of Being A Generalist

Adam Horoun says that practices should “stop trying to be everything to everyone. When practices try to position themselves in this way they are putting themselves at risk”. 

In addition to this, when presenting patients with a bundle of options, this may be overwhelming.

“A confused mind does not buy”, states Adam. Therefore, giving a lot of choice may at first present itself as a competitive advantage. However, this may have patients turning the other way, hoping to seek more clarity from another practice. 


Although being a generalist can come with great advantages that benefit both practices and patients, possible downsides may require surgeons to consider all aspects before deciding which is more beneficial for them.

In conclusion, one of the main points to consider when surgeons are deciding if they want to be a specialist or a generalist, is to first understand what kind of patients you are seeking. 

Things such as demographics, deep into emotional needs and lifestyle must be considered to evaluate this. In addition, surgeons should consider where they would like to see themselves in the future and decide if their way of working is in line with achieving future goals.

Considering the points mentioned above should help establish if you believe it’s better to be a surgeon with specific in-depth knowledge of one or two areas or a surgeon who knows a little about everything.

Listen to our full podcast episodes