Although technology can speed up areas of our lives, our personal time remains valuable. Here we share some tips about getting the most out of an initial consultation with a Plastic Surgeon.
BEFORE YOUR CONSULTATION
So you made the leap and booked your first consultation to meet a surgeon! Good on you. But what should I do to prepare?
We suggest taking 5 minutes to write down all the questions that come to mind about the particular surgery you are considering. Bring with you any photos that you like AND dislike of people that have undergone the same surgery. Ask a friend or family member to come with you, two heads can sometimes be better than one, as there will certainly be a lot of information to recollect, after the consultation has ended.
It’s a good idea to arrive early at your appointment and soak up the atmosphere of the clinic. Is it chaotic with the phone going unanswered, people being rushed through like numbers? Or is it calm, relaxing and welcoming.
Upon arrival you will be asked to fill out a new patient information form detailing specific information about you including your health history. It is vital to be honest and thorough when completing this form because the information you write down may help prevent complications during your care. Be sure to include any medications and herbal supplements, allergies, previous surgery and your current health concerns.
Here are some other questions you may also like to ask the surgeon:
- What is the simplest and safest surgery to help me achieve my goals?
- How is the surgery performed?
- Are there other options available?
- What results can I realistically expect and how long will these results last?
- Where will the scars be, and how long will they take to fade?
- What is the expected recovery time for this operation considering my current health state?
- What complications can occur?
- What experience does this surgeon have performing this particular operation?
Another important aspect, which should be discussed during the consultation with your surgeon, is the Anaesthetic that is required. Anaesthesia is a complex and essential part of any surgical procedure. Anaesthetists are highly specialised medical professionals with experience in administering many different types of anaesthesia. Ultimately the decision as to which type of anaesthesia will be best is based on the type of surgery and your health (another vitally important reason to declare your complete health history on the new patient questionnaire).
Recovering after surgery, no matter what type of surgery you have undergone, is a crucial part of the overall surgical process and can directly affect your outcome. Discussing the post-operative phase with your surgeon will help you prepare for a safe and complete recovery.
Here are some questions about the post-operative phase you may like to ask:
- Do I need to stay in hospital overnight, or when will I be able to go home?
- Can I drive home from the hospital?
- Do I need someone at home to look after me?
- Who do I contact in an emergency/out of hours?
- What medications or garments do I need?
- When can I return to work, exercise, swimming, driving etc?
- When will my review appointments be?
- If a touch-up is required, when will these be performed?
After meeting with the surgeon you should receive written documentation on what has been specifically discussed which can help recall important information discussed between you and your surgeon. A current quote clearly showing all the appropriate expenses for the surgery should also be included. Financial consent should be transparent and easily understood without any surprises.
Some associated costs involved in plastic surgery include:
- Surgeons fee
- Anaesthetists fee
- Surgical assistant fee
- Hospital operating theatre fees
- Day stay or overnight expenses
- Radiology (xray or ultrasound)
- Pathology (Blood tests or tissue sent for examination)
- Prothesis (An implantable device eg Breast implants)
MAKING YOUR DECISION
After discussing not just the surgery, but many factors surrounding the surgery, such as discussed above, you should have a sense of whether or not the surgeon you have met is right for you. Consider the following:
- Were your opinions, requests, priorities listened to?
- Did the surgeon communicate competently and respectfully?
- Does the surgeon install confidence in caring for you before AND after the surgery?
- Did you have your questions adequately and clearly answered?
- Do you trust this surgeon, and are they acting in your best interests?
The information received during your initial consultation can truly be overwhelming however, answers to some of the above questions will provide you with the comfort you need, to choose a surgeon. Sometimes everything cannot be answered during one appointment alone, due to the intricacies involved between various types of surgery. You may wish to read more about the surgery yourself, (we would recommend visiting websites such as, The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, not a plastic surgery forum!) and then book another consultation. You may also like to meet with another plastic surgeon to compare their views.
The decision to undergo surgery is an important one, and ultimately you should feel confident that your surgeon will deliver the best available care and attention to you throughout the surgical process. With good preparation you will be able to plan each stage of your care and look forward to an exciting new phase of your life!
Dr Jane is an experienced Plastic Surgeon in Melbourne. Phone 9429 3343 for your confidential consultation. Also, view our before and after photos at www.drjanepaterson.com.au