Beyond the Bio: How to Choose the Right Private Surgeon


Finding the best surgeon can feel overwhelming, especially in private healthcare. It’s not just about technical skill; it’s about trust, communication, and feeling like a person, not a procedure. This guide on how to choose the right surgeon will empower you to navigate the process, from online research to that crucial consultation.

Ali Operating with loupes

Section 1: Online Clues: Decoding Surgeon Profiles

  • What’s Their Focus? When selecting a private surgeon, check if they specialize in your condition or offer a broad range. Specialization often means deeper expertise.
  • Academic Titles: Titles like “Professor” are impressive, but do they relate to your needs? If not, a surgeon without the title might be just as skilled in your required procedure.
  • The Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words: A professional headshot is great, but does it convey warmth? This subtle cue can hint at their bedside manner.
  • Beware of Boasting: Claims of being “the best” can be red flags. A good surgeon lets their experience and patient stories speak for themselves.
  • Patient-Centered Language: When choosing a surgeon, look for those who discuss patient goals, education, and shared decision-making. This indicates good communication and a focus on your needs.
Be a detective when looking for a surgeon

Section 2: The Consultation: Beyond the Sales Pitch

It’s a Two-Way Street: The best surgeons are active listeners. Do they take the time to understand your history and goals before rushing to discuss surgery?

Exploring All Options: A good surgeon explores alternatives to surgery if appropriate. Do they offer multiple surgical approaches? This shows they’re not pushing a one-size-fits-all solution.

Transparency on Risks: Every procedure has risks. A surgeon who downplays them may lack integrity. They should openly discuss potential complications and their strategies for minimising them. Even better they should have information about risks etc. fully referenced for you from the literature.

Your Inner Voice: Do you feel comfortable asking questions, even “silly” ones? Does the surgeon explain things clearly and patiently? Trust your gut instinct – clear communication and rapport are crucial.

5 star rating picture

Section 3: Navigating Online Reviews

  • The Five-Star Trap: Choosing a private surgeon with only glowing reviews shows that they might be filtering feedback. Look for a mix of mostly positive reviews with some constructive criticism. I use Doctify which verifies all patients. Google recognise Doctify as only having verified reviews and therefore Google and Doctify interchange their star rating.
  • Context is Key: A lower star rating doesn’t always reflect the surgeon’s skill. Were the complaints about the surgeon’s care or other factors like wait times? Does the surgeon respond appropriately to all their reviews? Both good and bad? Often a surgeon that responds by changing their practice is more emotionally intelligent and reflective than one who selects potential five star reviews only.
  • Review Platforms Matter: Independent platforms like Google Reviews and Doctify are harder to manipulate. Look for reviews on these platforms for a more balanced view when selecting a surgeon.
  • The Responding Surgeon: Does the surgeon engage with reviews professionally and empathetically? This shows a willingness to listen, learn, and address concerns.
Nice looking doctor I would trust

Section 4: Beyond the Stars: Your Needs, Your Choice

  • Experience vs. Innovation: An experienced surgeon offers reassurance, but are they up-to-date on the latest techniques? A younger surgeon might be cutting-edge but lack experience with complex cases. Finding a balance might be ideal.
  • Numbers Game: A surgeon with many successful surgeries might have a few less-than-perfect reviews, but their overall experience could make them a safer choice.
  • The Right Fit: Ultimately, it’s about finding a surgeon whose skills AND personality align with your needs. Someone with slightly lower technical ratings who is a good communicator might be better for you than a brilliant but arrogant surgeon. These latter surgeons are out there and they may be all smiles but just make sure it feels right before signing on the dotted line!


Choosing a surgeon is deeply personal. Use online resources as a starting point, but prioritise the consultation experience. Finding someone you trust, whose approach aligns with your values, is just as crucial as their CV.

Please comment below:

What factors were most important when choosing your surgeon? Share your experiences in the comments!


The information provided in this blog is intended for general knowledge and informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice. It is essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for diagnosis, treatment recommendations, and any questions related to a medical condition. The author, contributors, and publisher of this blog shall not be liable for any direct or indirect losses or damages related to the use of the information presented herein.

Picture of Ali Phillips - Hand specialist

Meet Ali Phillips, Your Orthopaedic Hand and Trauma Surgeon

Ali Phillips is a fellowship-trained hand surgeon dedicated to educating and empowering his patients. He believes in clear information and shared decision-making. When not in the clinic, you might find him wing foiling or on a cycling adventure. Connect: @ali.thehandsurgeon on IG, Twitter/X, Threads, FB and TikTok. Find out more: About page