The Plastic Surgery Consult Cheat Sheet – Top Questions for Your Plastic Surgeon During a Consult

It’s possible you’ve been thinking about having plastic surgery for some time, and after starting your research, are likely feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the different information that “Dr. Google” has been able to provide you with. There certainly is a lot out there: not all of it accurate, not all of it comprehensive, and none of it specific to you. Perhaps it’s time to schedule a consult with an actual plastic surgeon, and get straight answers from an expert!

But where do you start? Choosing your plastic surgeon one of the most important decisions you will make. As ISAPS Plastic Surgeons, our mission is to put your safety above all, and to include only the most highly skilled, certified and experienced doctors among our ranks. A great place to start your cosmetic surgery journey is by visiting our member directory at www.ISAPS.org, and scheduling a consult with an ISAPS Plastic Surgeon.

But equally as important as scheduling a consult is: knowing the right questions to ask, of every surgeon you’re consulting! And don’t be shy. It’s you, after all, actually having the procedure(s)! Your safety, comfort and comprehensive understanding should be at the top of any potential surgeon’s priorities, and the more he or she takes the time to fully answer all your questions, the better you will be able to assess whether this is the right surgeon for you. You should never, in any discussion with a doctor, have to feel rushed, ignored or patronized. You will know the right surgeon for you when you feel safe, informed, comfortable and very well taken care of.

So, here’s a list of questions we highly recommend you ask during your consults. Bring along some extra paper and a pen, or your laptop or notebook, or set your phone to record (let your doctor know if you’re doing this), so you can keep track of the answers you get during each consult.

Questions About the Procedure

1. Which surgery would you recommend to best give me the result I’m after?

2. Are other options available to me – surgical and/or non-surgical?

[Follow-up questions] What are those options? Can we go over why, or why not, to choose those instead?

3. How will the surgery be performed? [Depending on your comfort level, feel free to ask for a very detailed answer here.]

4. How safe is the procedure? How common are complications?

[Follow-up question] What is the protocol to help me in the event of an emergency?

5. How long would I typically be in the operating room?

6. If I request to have multiple operations, can they be safely performed at the same time, or do I need to have them scheduled separately?

[Follow-up questions] If separately, which procedure do you recommend I have first? How long before I should have the next?

7. What kind of anesthesia will you use during surgery? Do I need to arrange for a ride home?

8. Where will the procedure be performed?

[Follow-up question] Is this in an accredited hospital facility? Accredited by whom?

9. Will I need to stay overnight, or will this be an out-patient procedure?

[Follow-up question] If I will be staying overnight, may I see the in-patient recovery rooms? Will my stay be just one night?

[Follow-up questions] What will be monitored, and what kinds of tests will be administered during my in-patient stay? Who will determine when it is safe for me to return home, and how? May I meet those nurses and/or doctors?

Questions About Your Surgeon

*Note: Most of these questions also apply to your anesthesiologist, so be sure to ask about him or her as well.

10. Are you board-certified? If yes, by which Board or Boards?

11. Do you have other professional affiliations? For example, are you a member of ISAPS?

12. How long have you been performing this procedure?

13. How many of these procedures do you perform a week? A month?

14. What is the most popular surgical procedure you perform in your clinic?

Questions About After the Surgery

15. How long will my healing process take?

16. What kind of pain should I expect, and how will this be managed?

[Follow-up question] Are there any other medications or products (to care for my skin, or to manage potential side effects, for example), that you recommend I use during my recovery?

17. What will the scarring be like? Will it be visible? How can I help minimize this?

18. Is there any particular clothing that I should (or shouldn’t) wear during this time?

19. How many follow-up visits will I need?

20. What is the recovery period like? What activities can I do during that time?

21. Will I need help during recovery to care for myself (my children, my pets)? For example, will I be able to carry my own groceries? Do light housework? Drive?

[Follow-up questions] When can I start:
Putting on makeup?
Exercising?
Taking a shower?
Doing my normal activities?

22. When can I return to work?

23. How long do the results typically last? Will I need “touch-up” treatments in the future?

24. Will I need a revision surgery later on? If so, why, and how likely is it?

Questions About Payment

25. What is my total cost?

[Follow-up] If there was a charge for my initial consult, is this then waived if I go ahead with a procedure?

26. Are there any hidden fees, or does your quote include everything? Does this include my follow-up visits, or are those billed separately?

[Follow-up question] Does this quote include the anesthesiologist?

27. If I’ll be required to wear specific clothing (compression stockings after sclerotherapy, for example), is that cost included?

28. If I’m having multiple surgeries, will it cost me less to have them in the same session?

29. What credit cards do you accept?

[Follow-up questions] Do you offer a payment plan? Can I set up an auto-payment?

30. Is it possible that my insurance would cover (partially or fully) any of my procedure(s)?

[Follow-up question] Either way, is it possible that insurance would still cover any prescription medication I may need?

31. If revision surgery is needed, is that covered under your initial quote? Or would that be an extra, separate charge?

As you look through this list, one of the best questions you can ask is to yourself: What else do I want to know? If you feel comfortable with it, ask your friends and family whether they’ve had similar procedures, and if so, what they wish they’d asked or known about, and what they think you might want to ask.

And finally, there’s one more great question that you should always ask (in any situation where you’re talking to an expert): Is there anything I haven’t asked about, that you think I should know? These two last questions, in particular, will help you get the answers you need that are specific to you, as a unique patient.

This list covers a lot, but you should always feel free to ask any and every question you can think of. Just as no surgeries are exactly alike (even among the same procedure), no patients are exactly alike, either – there are questions you may discover along the way, that are important and specific to you, so don’t hesitate to ask away! If there’s a question that you realize later you wish you’d asked, call the surgeon back, or send an email. That way, you’ll be well-equipped to understand all of your plastic surgery options, and everything that’s involved.

Remember to visit at least two plastic surgeons to hear their recommendations, and to compare and understand any differences in their approach. You may hear similar answers, or you may not, but just as important as the responses to any of these questions is the rapport and relationship you have with your surgeon. You deserve to have the best qualified surgeon, who is exactly right for you!

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