10 Questions You MUST Ask Your Surgeon at the Initial Consult

  • Posted on: Dec 13 2017
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For many patients, cosmetic surgery can be one of the best decisions they will ever make. A successful cosmetic procedure can result in higher levels of self-confidence, and can even help some people feel comfortable in their bodies for the first time in their lives. However, cosmetic surgery isn’t a decision that should be made lightly. The most important choice that you will make when you decide to get plastic surgery isn’t the procedure, but the surgeon who will perform it. When you have a consultation with a cosmetic surgeon for the first time, there are a number of questions that you should ALWAYS ask, before you even consider moving forward.

1. Are You a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon or Just a Cosmetic Surgeon?

There is a very big difference between being a cosmetic surgeon and an aesthetic plastic surgeon. Any doctor with a valid medical license can call him- or herself a cosmetic surgeon – this means gynecologists, internists, even ophthalmologists, who’ve decided they wanted to get into cosmetics and open a cosmetic practice. As a result, the level of skill and training will vary enormously. Aesthetic plastic surgeons, however, are true medical specialists who have undergone many years of rigorous and extensive training in aesthetics. Make sure they are board-certified in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery! Although the exact qualifications vary from country to country, this usually means that plastic surgeons have gone through even more specialized training in their field and have extensive practical experience performing cosmetic procedures.

Every country has its own official board certification, and the one international resource that you can always trust to be able to find the best surgeon is ISAPS, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. ISAPS is the world’s leading professional association of board-certified aesthetic plastic surgeons. When your plastic surgeon is a member of ISAPS, you can rest assured that you are in certified, qualified hands.

2. How Often Have You Performed This Procedure?

The more times plastic surgeons perform a procedure, the more they are able to perfect their technique. Are they doing only a few of these procedures a month, or is this their most common surgery (which they perform every single week)? If you are already feeling nervous about plastic surgery, you want a physician you will feel completely comfortable with. It may feel like a rude question to ask, but it’s better to ask it and have peace of mind than to go into surgery nervous and scared about your surgeon’s abilities.

3. Do You Have Clinical Privileges? Where?

Having clinical privileges is a sign that a plastic surgeon meets the strict requirements necessary to work in a hospital. If there are any complications during more invasive cosmetic procedures, you want to make sure that you have a plastic surgeon who is equipped to handle them.

4. Where Will the Procedure Be Performed?

Not all plastic surgery procedures are performed in a hospital. Many of the less invasive procedures can be performed in-office or in an outpatient ambulatory center. The location where the procedure will be performed depends on its complexity, as well as your overall level of health. Higher risk surgeries require the safety net that only a hospital can provide.

5. Are There Any Risks Associated with the Procedure?

To be honest, there are risks with just about every procedure, and any doctor who tells you otherwise should be looked upon with suspicion. That said, most cosmetic procedures are very low risk. If you are going in for a higher risk procedure, it is important that you know beforehand everything that could possibly go wrong, so you can make a fully informed decision.

6. What Kind of Anesthetic Will Be Used for the Procedure?

Anesthesia isn’t something that should be taken lightly, and you need a highly trained professional who will be able to administer the exact amount needed, and monitor you throughout the procedure. Depending on the nature of your cosmetic procedure, you could require general anesthesia (where you will be completely put under), to just a local anesthetic (where part of your body will simply be numbed). Make sure you know exactly what you can expect, and the type of anesthesia, as well as who will administer it, before you decide to have the surgery.

7. Do You Have Before-and-After Photos of Your Patients for This Procedure?

Some doctors simply use stock “before-and-after” photos to advertise cosmetic procedures. This can be understandable, as these photos are professionally taken in a studio, and reflect the best possible results of the procedure. However, they may not be an accurate reflection of your specific plastic surgeon’s results. Ask the surgeons you’re consulting for before-and-after photos of THEIR patients, so you can see exactly what kind of results you can expect.

8. What Is the Expected Recovery Time Associated with the Procedure?

Before deciding to have a cosmetic procedure, you need to know what kind of recovery time you can expect, so you can plan your time accordingly. Every cosmetic and surgical procedure will have a different recovery time, depending on its magnitude. Non- or minimally invasive treatments usually have a short downtime, as there probably won’t be very much tissue damage. More extensive procedures, like liposuction, may require lengthier recovery periods where your movement and activity will be restricted until your body fully heals.

9. Have You Ever Had any Complications With This Procedure? How Many? How Did You Resolve Them?

Plastic surgeons should tell you if they have ever experienced any complications, serious or otherwise, with the surgical procedure you are asking about. Although they cannot give you specific patient details, as those are protected by confidentiality laws, they should be able to give you details of the procedure and what exactly went wrong. If they are evasive about providing you with this information, that could be a red flag that perhaps this isn’t the plastic surgeon for you.

10. Can I Have an Official Breakdown of All Costs and Fees for this Procedure?

Plastic surgery is a little bit like air travel: it isn’t the ticket that will cost you, it’s all of the hidden fees. There are potentially many fees when it comes to plastic surgery. You may need to pay a hospital fee, anesthesia fee, lab fees, and many other charges that may not be included in the advertised price. When making a decision to have plastic surgery, you want to make sure that you know the exact amount of money you will be paying, prior to the procedure. As a precaution, make sure you get that price in writing for your records.


As we said above, one of the best signs that you are in the hands of an experienced and knowledgeable plastic surgeon is to find out if he or she is a member of ISAPS. You can visit the ISAPS Surgeon Directory to find an ISAPS plastic surgeon near you, to start your cosmetic journey today!

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