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The Best Plastic Surgeons in Airline Magazines

I remember flying to a fellowship interview and skimming through the in-flight magazine several years back. My eye was immediately drawn to the section titled 'Best Plastic Surgeons in America,' now ubiquitous in every domestic airline's repertoire (see American Way, United Hemispheres, Delta Sky, Southwest: The Magazine).

I was flying into Charlotte and was pleasantly surprised to find the plastic surgery practice where I would be interviewing listed as The Best. I assumed they must be right. I assumed the magazine had done their due diligence and chosen the most qualified and awarded plastic surgeon in each city. And I learned that is not the case.

The list of The Best should be followed by the words Surgeon Willing to Pay Thousands of Dollars per Month for This Advertising Spot.

After accepting the fellowship position, and thanks to my journalism background, I was asked to review the practice’s marketing material. This is when I found out how each airline magazine chooses The Best. Essentially they solicit plastic surgeons who have ever won a Best of award in the past by a poll (there are lots of these), and find a surgeon who is willing to pay handsomely to be issued in the magazine.

As long as that surgeon keeps paying each month, the magazine promises to not feature any other surgeon in that city.

Essentially, The Best designation spot in each magazine is for sale to the highest bidder. And it doesn’t matter if the plastic surgeon won a Best of award their first year in practice and has since turned out to be a poor surgeon. They are still eligible as long as they bring a checkbook. There is no other requirement to have been nominated recently or often, just to have been nominated once in the past in any number of polls (and some of these are ‘for sale’ as well).

So next time you take to the skies and find yourself looking over the supposedly best surgeons in each city, realize you are reviewing marketing material, and don’t believe everything you read.

Austin-Weston, The Center for Plastic Surgeons has been nominated Best of DC, NoVA and Northern Virginia in the last year in both peer-nominated and public opinion polls conducted by several different local magazines.



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