Most cosmetic surgery results in a happy experience and rewarding results, but you can further improve your odds by checking off as many items as possible on the following list:
- Choose a surgeon who can show you several examples (before and after photos) that are comparable to your needs. A surgeon may have a great reputation for facelifts, but if you are seeking a rhinoplasty, that reputation for excellence may not be as relevant to your surgery.
- Be certain to obtain your consultation entirely from the surgeon who will do your operation, and be certain that they hold the appropriate credentials for your surgery.
- Avoid travel, especially if intended to save money. If you must travel to access expertise, ask your surgeon how long (minimum and ideal) you should plan to stay local, and what long-term follow-up will be necessary. Minor complications can occur in any surgery, and only become major problems if they aren’t handled with the expertise of your original surgeon. Unless arrangements are spelled out in advance, don’t assume that a doctor back home will be able to help. Ask your surgeon if they have any planned absences (vacation or otherwise), and who you should call at 2 am if you have a problem.
- Ask your surgeon “have you made any recent changes in how you would do my type of surgery?”. A surgeon doesn’t make changes if they have had consistently good results, and recent changes could expose you to unnecessary risk.
- Follow pre-op and post-op advice, and if any advice seems irrelevant or confusing- Ask! No matter how careful we are in protecting you from bacteria during surgery, if you don’t obtain the recommended dressing supplies and can’t properly replace your dressing, you are increasing your risk of infection.
- Never choose your surgeon based on their use of the latest technology. Would you more likely get a beautiful painting from Rembrandt, or a painter using the latest paintbrush technology? Cosmetic procedure technology is aggressively promoted by manufacturers to convince patients (and surgeons) that the latest in paintbrushes will deliver the best results. The opposite is true- if your surgeon is using ‘the latest’, they will have little or no personal experience in delivering consistently good results.
- ‘Botched’ results are sometimes good surgery with poor communication of expectations. If you are not confident that you and your surgeon understand your goals and the limitations of surgery, arrange a further visit to iron out the details. Never book surgery until you have had a complete consultation (including discussion of risks and limitations) with the person performing your surgery.
- Beware of teaching hospital surgery. Your surgery will be performed under the supervision of your surgeon, but they may delegate the entire operation to a trainee.
- Ask your surgeon for their policy (in writing) on how revisions are handled. Who decides if a revision is necessary? What are the costs and fees?
If you have any pointers we should add to this list, please let us know!