Whether you’ve already decided on cosmetic surgery, or you’re still exploring the possibilities, a consultation with your plastic surgeon is the best way for you to find out everything you’ll need to know. But how do you get the most out of your cosmetic surgery consultation?
Let’s assume you’ve already done your homework. You’ve determined that your surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the only board recognized by the American Board of Specialties to certify physicians in the specialty of plastic surgery. It’s important to know this so that you can be certain your surgeon has the training and credentials to perform all types of cosmetic surgery.
You’ve also selected a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Membership in ASAPS indicates a plastic surgeon’s wide experience in performing cosmetic procedures, as well as his or her commitment to continuing education in the latest cosmetic surgical techniques.
You may want to do some preliminary research in books or on the Internet about the procedure that interests you. However, be aware that some sources of information are more credible than others. Also, qualified plastic surgeons use a variety of techniques, and there may be different approaches to your particular problem that are equally valid. So come to your consultation with an open mind.
Many patients develop a list of questions to ask their doctor. Although most of your questions probably will be covered as a routine part of the consultation, having your own checklist is an excellent idea. Some of the points that you will want to be sure to cover are:
What are the benefits of the procedure?
The consultation usually begins with a discussion of what bothers you about your appearance. You should be as specific as possible about what you would like to change. Your surgeon can help you determine whether your goals for surgery are realistic and which procedure or technique might be most beneficial in your particular case. Factors such as your age, health, condition of skin, existing features and healing patterns all contribute to the overall outcome of your surgery. Ask the doctor for an honest opinion of what results you can expect and be ready to accept any surgical limitations.
What are the risks and possible complications of the procedure?
Although millions of people each year successfully undergo cosmetic procedures, you should be aware that every surgery has risks. Find out what the possible complications are, how often they occur and how they will be handled if they do occur.
What is the expected recovery time for the procedure?
Inquire about postoperative restrictions on activity and typical time periods for resuming work and social activities.
How much will the surgery cost?
Cosmetic surgery typically is not covered by insurance and payment is usually required in advance. Costs include fees for the surgeon, the surgical facility and anesthesia. Other possible costs are preoperative testing, medications, surgical garments, and, if you don’t have someone at home who can care for you following your surgery, private-duty nursing.
What about surgical revisions?
A small percentage of cases may require surgical revisions to achieve the results desired by both you and your surgeon. Find out about any costs for which you may be responsible.
What kind of follow-up will be required?
The relationship with your plastic surgeon does not end when you leave the operating room. Find out how often your surgeon will want to see you following surgery. Maintaining your follow-up appointment schedule will help both you and your surgeon to evaluate your results over time.