What Should You Ask at Your Plastic Surgery Consultation?

Doctor and patient parting ways after discussing questions during a surgical consult.

Patients seeking an in-depth consultation for aesthetic concerns should consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon who is trained in all aspects of the specialty, from skin care to injectables to surgical procedures. At my practice in Pasadena, plastic surgery consultations are an essential step in building strong relationships with my patients, and my goal is always to facilitate an open, comprehensive discussion.

Asking these questions may help you decide whether you are a candidate for a given procedure and who you will choose to perform it.

Are you a board-certified plastic surgeon?

A board-certified plastic surgeon will be able to provide his or her professional credentials and should have hospital privileges at a nearby center. You may ask whether your plastic surgeon has a university affiliation, which may mean acting as a member of the teaching faculty, performing research, publishing manuscripts, or participating in major annual societal meetings. You may also ask about your surgeon’s years of practice and areas of specialization.

A board-certified plastic surgeon may also be board-certified in other specialties, such as general surgery, facial plastic surgery, dermatology, and laser surgery. For double or triple board-certified plastic surgeons (such as myself) an extensive residency training for up to 5 to 10 years at accredited medical institutions is required. At the end of each training period, the candidate-surgeon must pass a written and oral examination in order to become a certified specialist.

Where will my surgery be performed?

Minimally invasive and surgical procedures are required to be performed in fully accredited facilities such as hospitals, surgical outpatient facilities, and AAASF-accredited surgical centers. You may ask your surgeon why he or she has selected a certain facility for your surgery. Your plastic surgeon will provide information on whether the facility is equipped for either general or local anesthesia for your comfort and safety.

If your procedure is complex and your health status is of concern, you and surgeon may decide on a hospital with inpatient recovery resources or an outpatient surgical facility with an anesthesiologist.

Can my concerns be solved nonsurgically?

Your plastic surgeon will fully discuss not only your desires but also realistic expectations for what can be addressed surgically and nonsurgically. In general, nonsurgical procedures, such as fillers and noninvasive device-driven approaches, are most useful for younger patients who present with early and minimal physical signs of aging. Once a patient presents with more advanced composite tissue changes of laxity and volume loss, minimally invasive approaches are typically unable to fully address these changes in the short and long terms.

Your plastic surgeon is trained to have an intimate knowledge of skin and deeper structural alterations that can be addressed by the different approaches, as well as safe and effective methods for taking care of potential side effects and complications.

How much will my procedure cost?

Nonsurgical procedures will be less costly but may require repeated sessions over time. As you advance in the aging process, these procedures will likely result in less-than-satisfactory outcomes. At some point, minimally invasive procedures or full surgical procedures will be the only realistic options. They are more expensive, but they also offer longer-lasting results and can be combined with nonsurgical procedures such as fillers, volumizers, muscle relaxants, and device-driven methods for optimal results over time.

Although your plastic surgeon can discuss cost with you, the office manager will provide you with more information not only about direct costs but also about ancillary services that may be made available for your complete care. Your plastic surgeon is responsible for your overall wellbeing, and should seek to form a long-lasting relationship to meet your aesthetic and reconstructive needs.

Ask yourself: Do I feel comfortable and safe with this surgeon and office staff?

Do you feel that your surgeon and his or her staff can satisfy your needs in pursuing any aesthetic procedures? You should evaluate the ambiance and demeanor of the surgeon and the entire office staff, including their professionalism, appearance, promptness, transparency, and willingness to respond clearly and respectfully to all your questions. You may even want to browse the different services available at the office during one of your first appointments, such as the skincare center and injectable-device center.

Although friends, professionals, and the practice’s website may offer information about what you can expect, there is no substitute for an in-person consultation to confirm your feelings of trust and anticipated professional care.

If you would like to learn more about the consultation process at my Pasadena plastic surgery practice, please contact us online or call (626) 796-3373.

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