So, you’ve decided that a traditional facelift will shave years off your facial appearance or the bridge of your nose could use a little reduction. The next important step for you is to decide which plastic surgeon is the right one for you.
This doesn’t mean going online and signing up with the first surgeon who pops up offering to do the procedure at the least cost. There are a number of important factors to keep in mind. What do other patients think and feel about the surgeon? What is his or her professional background and training in the procedure of your choice? Are they generalist practitioners, or specialists in facelift or rhinoplasty surgery? Most important – and don’t be afraid to ask – do they have any past or pending malpractice lawsuits?
All of these issues will help narrow the field of three or more surgical candidates to, hopefully, the best one to do the job.
Next comes the professional consultation. This is the moment when the patient gets to enter the surgeon’s world and work space. Is it neat and tidy? Is it a modern facility with state-of-the art tools and technology? What are the staff members like? Are they welcoming, and do they pay attention to your personal needs?
The patient will be required to fill out paperwork and complete a questionnaire which will provide the surgeon and staff with the patient’s medical history and possible use of medications or herbal supplements, which can lead to complications on the operating table. After that, the big moment will have finally arrived and you will get to meet the plastic surgeon for the first time. Here, first impressions are key. He or she will either make a good impression or a bad one. They will come across as knowledgeable in their specialty or they won’t. They will have a good bedside manner or may appear cool and distant. Depending on your emotional makeup and cosmetic goals, the initial consultation can make or break a surgeon-client relationship. Such a relationship must be built on a foundation of mutual trust or it simply won’t work.
Once past the preliminary discussion, the surgeon will provide a full explanation of the procedure, the type of anesthesia used, pre-operation preparations, the recovery process, the patient’s reasons for having the surgery and the goals and expectations in play.
The qualified, board-certified surgeon may suggest alternative procedures and will discuss the risk of infection and other complications as well as the overall results to expect. The well-informed patient will have no fear in asking the doctor about how many procedures he or she has performed, how long they have been doing a specific surgical procedure, and how many required surgical revision.
The consultation is when all cards are laid on the table. Honesty and transparency are essential ingredients on both sides of the table. You may also find that you want to consult with more than one surgeon, and that is perfectly acceptable.
Dr. Philip Miller is a board certified facial plastic surgeon with offices located at 60 East 56th, Third Floor, New York, N.Y. Call (212) 750-7100 for a personal consultation.