Meeting a plastic surgeon for the first time, knowing the breasts you are unhappy with will be closely examined, can be daunting. Preparing for your visit and knowing what to expect will help you get the most out of your consultation.
Social media and the Internet are plastered full of plastic surgery before and after images; some patients are even willing to have their surgical procedures streamed live from the operating room. The planning process and the initial visit, however, remain more of a mystery.
“Achieving ideal results in breast augmentation surgery always starts with a breast augmentation consultation,” says board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Cooper of Jupiter, Florida. “The breast augmentation consultation is the place where the patient gets to interview me, and I get to share with them some aspects of their anatomy and what will work best to achieve the best result for them.”
Physical Examination and Measurements
One of the most important steps toward narrowing down implant size options is taking detailed breast measurements during the consultation. One particular measurement called the base width of the breast provides the surgeon with the natural “footprint” of the breast. This measurement allows the surgeon to choose an implant with a similar diameter in order to fill out the breast without being too large or too small for the patient’s unique chest anatomy.
“Taking measurements of a patient based on their anatomy, and pairing that with the appropriate implant based on what they are desiring, is critical to performing an excellent breast augmentation consultation,” shares Dr. Cooper.
Sometimes a patient has her heart set on a particular implant size that isn’t a match for her actual breast measurements. When that happens, Dr. Cooper works to find middle ground. His goal is to achieve the look each patient desires while keeping the implant size properly in line with the proportions of their body.
“I’ll make an analogy to a shoe salesman,” says Cooper. “Someone may come in and say, ;I have a size 6 foot, but I really want a size 8 shoe.’ The two of them just don’t make sense together. Oftentimes, using that analogy will take some of the tension away from conversation where a patient has an implant selection that’s incongruent with their body’s anatomy.”
Make Your Voice Heard
“When I perform a breast augmentation consultation it’s really important to hear the patient’s voice, from the moment I meet them,” emphasizes Cooper. “What is it that they are really desiring when they’re considering breast augmentation?”
Sometimes words fall short. The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is very relevant in the world of plastic surgery. “It’s not always possible for a patient to articulate or accurately describe what size they want to be,” continues Dr. Cooper. “Some women will say, ‘I really want a natural result.’ Then they’ll show me a photo that may be more than what others would consider a natural result.”
Most women discuss breast size in terms of bra cup sizes. Unfortunately, cup sizes vary widely by manufacturer, making it a poor tool for gauging size goals. Instead, Cooper encourages patients to spend time before the consultation going through before and after images in online plastic surgery galleries. Keep an eye out for other patients who have similar anatomy to begin with. Pointing out augmentation results that are bigger, smaller or along the lines of what you hope to achieve can help your surgeon better understand your goals.
Other Discussion Topics
Implant size selection is only one of many decisions that will be made during the breast augmentation planning process. During the consultation, the surgeon will also ask questions about your past medical history. Which type of implant will be used (silicone vs. saline) will be discussed. Other topics of conversation include incision location and the recovery timeline.
Breast Augmentation Consultation Discussion Topics:
- Goals & Desires
- Past Medical History
- Recovery Timeline
- Silicone vs. Saline Implants
- Implant Placement
- Incision Placement
“I spend a considerable amount of time differentiating saline implants from silicone implants, and another significant amount of time talking about the access incision we’re going to use to place the implant,” adds Dr. Cooper.
Getting the Most Out of Your Consultation
During your consultation you will have the opportunity to ask questions and get to know the plastic surgeon. Writing down your questions in advance can help you stay on topic during your appointment.
It is normal to be nervous or self-conscious about your first appointment. A very important goal of the initial consultation is to establish a bond between patient and surgeon. You should walk out of your consultation feeling cared for and confident in your surgeon’s ability. This is where great results begin.