Congratulations! You have finally decided to move from wondering about a cosmetic procedure to making it happen. The first step on your journey to a new you is to book a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon. The consultation is not only a chance for you to ask questions and to get a feel for your surgeon, but it is also an opportunity for the surgeon to examine your anatomy, skin tone and texture in order to determine exactly which procedure or combination of procedures is going to best achieve your desired look.
What we think we want is not always what we actually need, making the consultation one of the most important parts of the process. Dr. Mark D. Epstein of Stony Brook, NY discusses ways in which you can ensure that you get the most out of your plastic surgery consultation.
Do Your Homework Before Your Consultation
The first step in taking this from a dream to a reality is to book a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon. Why should it be with someone who is board certified? A plastic surgeon who is board certified not only had to complete rigorous training, but has also undergone intense testing in order to pass the boards. And while this does not guarantee a complication free surgery or a perfect outcome, it does greatly increase your odds. A board certified plastic surgeon has both the experience and the skill to consistently deliver exemplary results.
Now that you have the appointment, what can you do to get the most out of your doctor/patient consult? As Dr. Epstein explains, “it’s really up to you to do your homework.”
Your homework includes:
- Research the surgeon that you are wanting to see
- Read his or her bio and credentials
- Talk to friends who have seen said surgeon
- Go on his or her website and look through before and afters
- Read surgeon reviews on sites such as HealthGrades and/or RealSelf
- Study the procedure and what the modern version entails
Before the day of your consultation, make sure to research your surgeon. Go onto his or her website and read through the entire site, especially the bio page with your surgeon’s credentials and the procedure page in which you are interested. If you have any friends who have seen this surgeon for any treatment, ask them about their experience. Go on the Internet and read reviews on your surgeon. There will probably be some good ones and some bad ones, but the “overall flavor of the reviews will give you a good idea of what the doctor is about,” says Dr. Epstein.
Because the relationship between patient and surgeon is so personal, it is important for you to feel comfortable. That does not mean that your surgeon needs to be your best friend. It does mean, however, that you trust this person to listen to your needs and provide you with the best possible care.
As you do your research on the surgeon, the facility and the procedure that you desire, make a list of questions that you want to ask. We all think that we will remember our questions, but nine times out of ten, we don’t. There is so much information exchanged during a consultation that it is easy to get overwhelmed and forget things. So, come prepared with your questions written down on your phone or on a piece of paper. Being organized is the best way to ensure that you make the most out of your time with your surgeon.
Be an Active Participant
Dr. Epstein, like many of his colleagues, has spent a lot of time and effort on his website, laying out all of the information that any prospective patient might need. Nothing makes him happier than when a patient comes in quoting his website. When patients have done their homework and are prepared, “we can have a much great depth of discussion,” and he can go into much more detail.
Some patients are so well informed that it is almost like speaking with a fellow plastic surgeon. And while everyone does not need to have this depth of knowledge, “you want to come in as an active participant. Not a passive participant,” explains Dr. Epstein. He doesn’t want someone who comes in, sits back and says nothing. “You have to advocate for yourself.”
Don’t be shy! And think about bringing a friend, relative, spouse or partner in with you; you are going to be presented with a lot of information during a consultation that is often hard to remember. “Patients hear about 10% of what we tell them,” says Dr. Epstein so having an extra pair of ears in the room is never a bad idea.