Ten Questions for Your Plastic Surgeon

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You’re in a consultation with your plastic surgeon, going over your upcoming procedure, when she asks, “Do you have any questions for me?”

You freeze and your mind goes blank. What do you possibly ask? Studies show that patients who ask questions during the consultation feel more empowered and at peace with making the right decision. Whether your procedure is small or more extensive, having answers makes the overall event feel less stressful.

Creating a list of questions that are ready to go during your plastic surgery consultation is one way to ensure you’re prepared when the doctor asks if you have any. It allows you to focus on the consult without formulating thoughts in your mind and missing any of the information provided to you. Here are ten questions to ask your plastic surgeon during your upcoming consultation.

How many times have you performed this procedure? You’ve done your homework; you have selected a plastic surgeon based on the procedure you choose, but you will also want to ensure he or she has an extensive background and experience with certain areas of specialization. In choosing this plastic surgeon, you’re making a decision based on the fact that the more experience she has with the exact procedure you need, the higher the chance she’s worked with every body type and has the skill to accommodate any need that may arise during the surgery.

Where will this procedure take place? Depending on the type of procedure, it can be performed anywhere from an in-office suite to a surgical center.

Are you board certified? Before selecting any plastic surgeon, make sure she holds certification from the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. In the United States, a physician has the legal right to perform cosmetic surgery whether they’ve had any experience and training or not. Board certification is vital in that it requires the plastic surgeon to have training, expertise and experience in cosmetic surgery. The certification also means that procedures are completed in appropriate, accredited facilities.

What can I expect during recovery? The recovery process looks different for everyone, but it’s important to get an idea of what it might entail. Details regarding recovery time help you determine if you have the availability to take time away from daily activities, work or exercise; depending on what type of plastic surgery you obtain, recovery time ranges from days to weeks.

Am I a good candidate for the procedure? Even though you want the procedure, it’s not always a good fit for you, depending on a number of conditions. Be sure to ask the plastic surgeon whether the surgery is right for you, in particular, whether it fits well with your lifestyle or if there are any physical or mental hurdles that must be accommodated in order to ensure a successful and safe procedure.

What are the complications or risks I should be concerned about? One of the most important questions to ask before going through with your procedure is an appropriate list of the risks and complications that may arise.

What pain medication will be provided? While not everything can be anticipated, you must know what some of the common concerns are once the surgery is over; this includes any pain medication or physical therapy after the procedure. Ask what medication will be administered or prescribed as well as recommendations and proper dosing requirements. Pain management and following strict doctor’s orders are key for faster recovery.

How are complications handled? No one wants to think about a worst-case scenario, but you must know what will happen in case of complications. Does the plastic surgeon have a specific hospital they use for treatments or emergencies?

What complications has the surgeon dealt with and what was the outcome? It’s never a pleasant conversation, but for your sake and that of your loved ones, a plan must be in place.

Can I see before-and-after pictures? One way to gauge the work of your plastic surgeon is to see photos of previous procedures. This will give you peace of mind if they have an extensive collection of positive results; a gallery of photos shows you she has an excellent depth of expertise.

What will my results look like? Keep in mind that every person is different, but you will want to ask the plastic surgeon what you reasonably can expect once the procedure is complete. In many cases, the surgeon uses photo imaging software to give you an idea of what you will look like after the procedure.

Before signing on the dotted line and undergoing any cosmetic surgery, make sure you know as much as possible to stay informed and make the right decision for yourself and your family. ■

Sources: americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org and plasticsurgery.org.