Use your doctor's referral as a starting point. Your primary care physician may recommend a surgeon that he or she has chosen many times for this surgery. There's a good chance he or she knows the doctor or that they're buddies. "She's excellent," your doctor may affirm, and in fact, this physician may be an excellent surgeon.
But you can't just fly on that alone, especially if the surgery is a highly complex one. Your smart-patient detective job is to find out if this is the most excellent surgeon you can choose for this particular operation. Ask your doctor for a few names, and investigate each.
Also, aside from asking your regular doctor to point you to the maestro of this surgery, doing Internet research can help you locate a hyper-specialized surgeon. You just have to hope that one works at your hospital, or you might be planning a road trip.
A good way to find a highly specialized surgeon is to look in medical studies.
More Answers from Mehmet Oz, MD