For individuals considering cosmetic surgery, a thorough, informative consultation with a qualified surgeon is the best way to reach your ultimate decision—no matter what stage you’re at in the game. When interviewing any doctor, certain questions are especially worth asking. Many people are intimidated by the prospect of questioning authority, and who is more of an authority figure than a plastic surgeon? After all, your surgeon is the person who could potentially hold your life (not to mention your looks) in his or her hands.
To help you in your search, here is a convenient checklist you can bring with you during your first physical consultation. The important thing to remember is that this is a life-changing service, and the doctor should be convincing you of his/her abilities. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
- Are you Board Certified?
You may ask, what exactly does it mean to be a board certified plastic surgeon? The truth is, there are several certifying boards for plastic surgeons, as well as surgical societies of which any given surgeon may be a member. In Malaysia, the gold standard is Malaysian Association of Plastic, Aesthetic, and Craniofacial Surgeons (MAPACS). Certification by this organization indicates that a surgeon has completed extensive specialized training that not only shows his superior knowledge and experience, but also speaks of his commitment to excellence in the field. Ask the question. Then verify the answer by checking with MAPACS online at www.mapacs.org. Please keep in mind, though, that there other certifying boards and medical societies, and many other factors to consider.
- How many times have you done this procedure?
No one wants to be any surgeon’s first nose job. Beyond that, most people probably wouldn’t even want to be one of the first fifty patients Dr. X uses to perfect his technique. You will want a surgeon who has worked out all the kinks in his previous 200 times performing the procedure. Yet so many people don’t think to ask this question, either because they are embarrassed, don’t want to be rude, or are simply uncomfortable at the very thought of questioning a doctor about his experience. Better rude, embarrassed, and uncomfortable …or worse.
- What other medical staff will assist with the procedure?
It is important to know who is a part of the surgeon’s surgical support team, and what their qualifications are. Who will be assisting? Is your surgeon using nurse-anesthetist or a board-certified anesthesiologist? Is there emergency staff available in case of a problem? If the procedure is being performed at a teaching hospital, will there be any medical students or interns involved in your care?
- Where will the procedure be performed?
Some procedures are performed in a hospital, others in clinic with an Operating Theatre, and still others are routinely performed as in-office procedures. The complexity of your procedure, as well as any health issues specific to your case (your age, overall health, etc.), should always be considered when determining where it would be best for your surgery to take place.
- What procedures do you specialize in?
Most doctors do have procedures that are their “favourites.” While this does not mean the quality of a procedure that is not their specialty would be sub-par, it’s good to know a doctors area of specialization. A board-certified plastic surgeon who trained in reconstructive surgery and specializes in hand reconstruction, for example, probably isn’t the best person to perform your face-lift. You may ask your surgeon what his or her fellowship was in, and what he or she specializes in.
- What type of anesthesia will be used during the procedure?
The biggest risk is from general anesthesia, and this type of anesthesia requires highly trained specialists to administer and monitor its effects on the patient. IV sedation (sometimes called “twilight sleep or sedation“) is a bit safer and usually less expensive option—one which can be utilized for many single-procedure surgeries. The safest option is usually local anesthetic, and this may be recommended if the surgeon will have any reason to need to communicate with you during the surgery. However, many procedures are not possible or advisable with only local anesthetic.
- What are the possible risks or side effects associated with this procedure?
With any surgical procedure, there are risks. You’ll want to make sure you understand these risks and how often they are associated with the procedure you’re interested in. A well respected doctor will be forthright with this information and give you a reasonable explanation to this question. The most serious risks usually have to do with excessive blood loss, infection, or adverse reactions to general anesthesia, and the result of any of these could prove fatal. Other risks vary widely from patient to patient and from one procedure to another. There are some procedures that are riskier than others, although recent advances continue to make complications more and more unlikely. The truth is that since plastic surgery is elective, surgeons will usually refuse to operate on any patient for whom they feel the risk is too great. Therefore, serious complications with plastic surgery are actually relatively rare.
- Can I see multiple before and after pictures of patients on whom you have performed the same or similar procedures?
Communicating comfortably with your surgeon should not be the only indicator that he will have the skills necessary for what you would like to achieve. Seeing real patient photos will prove that he or she is capable of realistic results you are looking for or vice versa. It helps to ask for photos of patients with similar physiological attributes or facial structure, patients whom you resemble, so that you can get the best fit for your results.
- What is your safety record and success rate?
Although a surgeon cannot violate the privacy of his or her patients, he or she should absolutely be able to tell you how many complications he has had with your particular surgery, and how many of them have been serious. This can be in the form of an actual count, or a percentage, but your surgeon should be willing to provide this information so that you feel comfortable about making the most informed choice for your own health and safety.
- Can you provide me with 3 references to patients on whom you have performed this procedure?
No experienced surgeon will turn down this request, so don’t be the least bit afraid to ask. Your surgeon should want you to hear the glowing reports of his satisfied patients. Not only can these references provide you with a “review” of your surgeon’s care and skill, but they may also be able to give valuable insight about what you might expect to experience in regard to recovery, pain management, and downtime.
The benefits of going through Moviestar Makeovers is that you will have access to all these references before you decide which surgeon to choose.