ACL Knee Surgery – 7 Tips To Pick The Right Surgeon

Once you have realized that you’re ACL is torn it’s time to start looking for a surgeon. This process can be stressful, wanting to make sure you pick the “best” acl knee surgeon. I was in the same situation and here are 7 tips to help you find the right ACL knee surgeon.

Before I give you my tips let me explain the process I used to pick my surgeon for my two ACL surgeries. The first I time I tore my AC I had recently finished competitive alpine skiing where many of my teammates had torn their ACLs and the “go-to” ACL surgeons in the province were known to me. I asked around to former teammates about how their experience was with the surgeons, checked their reviews on and determined who the “best” surgeon would be.

When I tore my ACL the first time I was studying at a University with a hospital and an on-site orthopaedic surgeon who did all the varsity athletes. Because I was a student and didn’t have a vehicle I thought I would investigate the on campus orthopaedic surgeon to keep the logistics simple. I checked his reviews, talked with former patients and decided to meet with him. After meeting with him the sense that I got was unless you are a part of my study or a varsity athlete I don’t care about you. After meeting with him I decided against pursuing him as an option which was clearly the right decision since his admin called me 8 months later to “book” my surgery…what was he thinking…. I was just waiting for him?

ACL Knee Surgery

I decided that for my ACL knee surgery I was going to go with the better surgeon I found from my former teammates and should meet with him. He answered all the questions I had and was clearly a down to business kind of guy that took his work personally. So from that consultation I decided to book the surgery and had it a couple months later (in Canada its free but we have to wait!).

For my second surgery I decided to go with the surgeon that showed up as #2 when I talked with my teammates and was now only 1hr away from where I am living. This turned out to be the right choice and in hindsight I would have gone to him the first time.

So from my experience and some of the readers here are the 7 tips to pick the right doctor for your ACL Knee Surgery.

ACL Knee Surgery Tips:

  1. Ask Former Patients – If you know people who have had ACL knee surgery than make sure to ask them who they used and how they found them.
  2. Pick Someone Local – Having a day surgery is preferred and if you are able to find a surgeon that is within a 45mintue drive than you will be able to go home after your surgery.
  3. Ask Your Doctor – Your doctors advice, although you would think it is the best, may be biased. They may recommend someone that is local simply because they know them well. We are looking for the best ACL surgeon not your doctors golfing buddy.
  4. Ask your Physiotherapist – Without a doubt your physiotherapist, if they have seen a lot of ACL surgery recoveries, is the best person to ask. They will have seen how people are after surgery and know the recovery timeline for different surgeons. They are able to track the patients recovery much closer than a surgeon or family doctor and therefore are a great resource when deciding on what surgeon to pick for you ACL Knee Surgery.
  5. Check Their Reviews – Unbiased reviews direct from patients mouths are a great source of information when picking your surgeon. Make sure you don’t put too much weight on “bedside manner” many great knee surgeons get bad reviews for bed side manner…in my opinion this shouldn’t really matter. Here are some popular doctor review websites:
  6. Post Care Program – I can’t confirm this but my theory is that some surgeons just want to get the surgery over with and the patient out the door. The problem with this approach is that the post surgery work suffers and they don’t follow up. A fast way to check if this is the case is to check with the surgeons post operation procedure and determine if they
  7. Consultation – Without a doubt the best way to determine if your surgeon is the right person is to meet them in person and ask them questions and see what questions they ask you.  Here are some questions to ask your surgeon…
    • What type of graft do you think is right for me?
    • What is the typical recovery timeline?
    • Will I be going home to first night?
    • When do you want me to start physio?
    • Do you insist on me using a ice machine?
    • Do you want me using a continuous motion machine?

I hope my experience and tips will help you with picking the right surgeon for you ACL knee surgery.

What other tips do you have for people trying to pick a surgeon?

The Top 5 At Home Exercises
I did that helped get me walking 4 days after surgery

Click Here to see the exercises


  1. Steph Farari says:

    Thanks for the tips on picking a surgeon. I am going to talk to a potential surgeon next week about ACL Surgery and will make sure to ask some of your questions.


  2. Trent Brown says:

    Hey John,

    Your website is awesome. It definitely educated me a lot and gave me the tools to ask the right questions. Just had surgery on my left ACL yesterday. My knee has been messed up for the past 9 years, so to say that I’ve been looking forward to this is an understatement.

    I went to the University of Michigan ortho clinic and had the doc who does the surgeries for the football and hockey teams. That guy really knew his stuff!

    Thanks again!

  3. First of all, thanks John for the website, it was a great resource while going through the surgery and the recovery process.

    I may have some helpful tips on finding a the right surgeon.

    1. Make sure that the surgeon is Board Certified.

    2. It’s better to have a surgeon who specializes in knee surgery. A lot of orthopedic surgeons do all kinds of surgery. Although the surgery isn’t too complicated placement of the graft is very important. Having a surgeon who completes hundreds of acl replacements a year is more reassuring and may lead to a better outcome.

    3. I would recommend having surgery at an outpatient surgery center if available. I had mine at one and it was much more pleasurable than being in a hospital. Also many of them have their own physical therapy center in them which makes communication between your PT and Doctor a lot quicker.

    4. Make sure your doctor recommends a good physical therapist. If you want to continue sports its important to have a physical therapist that specializes in sports. You don’t want to be grouped with the geriatric crowd and not fully recover.

    5. Most important, be comfortable with your surgeon. I saw a couple of surgeon before my surgery and they were both very knowledgeable and helpful but in the end it came down to who I felt comfortable with cutting into my leg.

    Anyway I hope some of that was helpful.

    John, thanks again for the site!

  4. Just a suggestion for a better doctor review website:

  5. These are great tips. Finding a surgeon that you are comfortable with is essential. I had ACL surgery two years ago and spoke to multiple surgeons until I found someone who I was comfortable with.

    Also make sure you ask a lot of questions, the more you know about what is going on the easier it will be to find information about what you are going through after surgery.