The consultation is the crucial part of any plastic surgery journey. Whether patients are considering a non-surgical or a surgical procedure, scheduling a consultation is a must.
Not only does it give patients a chance to meet and interview the surgeon in person, but it allows the surgeon to assess their anatomy and goals to determine whether or not what they want can actually be achieved both safely and effectively. Dr. Stephan Finical of Charlotte, NC details what to expect from a great consultation and why trusting your instincts is a good thing.
How to Prepare for the Consultation
Thanks to the internet, patients today can and should do research before meeting with a plastic surgeon. It’s important as a patient to have a clear understanding of:
- what bothers you
- which procedures might be best for your issues
- the board certified plastic surgeons in your area
- available financing if necessary
However, keep in mind that not everything read on the internet is true. Furthermore, sometimes the procedures that patients think they need are actually not the ones that will help them achieve their goals. This is one of the many reasons why it is so vital for patients to meet with potential plastic surgeons in person.
Board Certification is Key
When deciding on which plastic surgeon to schedule a consultation with, patients should make certain that the surgeon in question is board certified. Board certification is very important. It shows that this surgeon has the experience, expertise and training to deliver exemplary results. Patients want to look for a plastic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). The best way to do this is to go to the ASPS website and search for the plastic surgeons in the area. Then, visit each surgeon’s individual website and look at his or her credentials, education and training, practice philosophy as well as the procedure page of which you are interested.
Importance of Before & After Photos
A well-executed procedure page will give an overview of the procedure as well as the different techniques that the surgeon may practice. For instance, a facelift can be done in a number of different ways; it’s important to check that the potential surgeon is up to date on the latest techniques.
A good procedure page will also have before and after pictures. These can serve as visual proof of the surgeon’s technical know-how and experience. “That this is not this guy’s first rodeo,” explains Dr. Finical. Perhaps more importantly, they can also tell potential patients whether or not this surgeon’s “ideal aesthetic really meets your eye.” In other words, do you view what he or she was able to perform on another patient as an improvement? Is that improvement something that you would desire? Making certain that you and your surgeon are in sync aesthetically is crucial for a happy result.
What to Expect During Your Consultation
The consultation is a chance for patients to gather information, but, “it has to be a two way conversation,” says Finical. Patients need to be able to clearly express your concerns as to what’s bothering them about their face, breast or body. Then, the surgeon needs to assess whether or not their issues can be safely improved with either a surgical or non-surgical procedure. “Safety is always first,” share Finical.
During the consultation, there should be:
- an inquiry into what the patient wants
- a full medical history
- a physical exam to make sure that the patient is healthy and that what they want is actually the right procedure for them and their anatomy
- a discussion of the range of treatment options that might be right for the patient, including both pros and cons
Finally, the last step is a financial assessment, and there are two components to this conversation. First is the actual cost of the procedure. If financing is something that patients will need then those options should be presented. But the second component is the cost of time. Your surgeon should have an honest discussion about the procedures recovery. Is it going to be a week? A couple of days? Longer? If the patient has a social job or is a busy mom, it’s important to consider how long one can expect to be out of commission.
Sometimes, the Right Choice Comes Down to a Feeling
Choosing the right plastic surgeon oftentimes comes down to a gestalt feel. Patients may just click with that surgeon and there is simply an innate level of comfort. So, trust your gut. But you also what to assess whether or not you feel “that this guy is going to captain the ship if everything’s not perfect,” says Dr. Finical.
The reality is that things can go wrong even in the hands of the most skilled plastic surgeon. You need to feel that this practice is going to take care of you, not kick you to the curb.“I think that the patient certainly has to trust the ability of their plastic surgeon,” says Finical. “They don’t have to like him per se but it… makes life a lot nicer!”