Where do I begin? You may either be sure that you need a surgery, or you might just want to consult a facial plastic surgeon to improve your appearance. Now what do you do next? Today, information is at your fingertips with the internet. Countless pages exist about plastic and reconstructive surgery on the Internet, but just a word of caution: Anybody and everybody can write something on the net, and not everything applies to you!
Some of your friends or colleagues may also share their cosmetic surgery experiences with you. Television, magazines, and newspapers offer information about new techniques and advances in plastic surgery.
However, most valuable information comes from an actual consultation with your doctor. Through a consultation, you will gain specific information about the treatment options specific for you, the downtime and recovery period, and the expected outcome. Equally important, you will get a sense of your comfort level with the doctor, and his or her skills.
How to choose the Right Plastic Surgeon?
Your face is the most important focal point that defines you. Therefore, any procedure or plastic surgery on your face deserves the best hands! But today, with so many cosmetic centres, how do you choose your surgeon? Well, here are a few practical tips that would be very useful for you to remember while you choose your plastic surgeon. Training Your doctor's training in the related field is the most crucial parameter. Though, post graduate training may legally allow a doctor to perform oculoplastic / facial plastic surgery, today, across the globe, an additional fellowship training is considered very important to be an expert in the field. Specialization and Volume It is important to find out what procedures your doctor specializes in, how many he or she has performed and how recently. Though often overlooked, it is important to find out whether the surgery/correction you are considering forms a significant chunk of your surgeon's daily work. For example, the results of a surgery for 'eyelid bags' would be best in the hands of an eye-plastic surgeon, rather than a 'general' plastic surgeon who spends most of the time in tummy liposuctions!
Plastic Surgery and Plastic Surgeon Unfortunately, most people get impressed by the word 'plastic surgeon'. That is not true! Plastic surgery is any surgery performed for reasons of appearance and aesthetics. With regards to the face, many sub-specialists can perform plastic surgery. It is important to assess the actual areas of expertise, rather than the term 'plastic surgeon'.
Surgeon Popularity The surgeon would naturally advertise the skills in media, news, social networking etc to draw your attention. However, how well is your surgeon known to other doctors in his specialty is an important parameter that defines an excellent surgeon. Almost always, peer reviewed publications in internationally reputed medical journals is a good way to assess how respected your surgeon is among his peers. This can be done easily by typing his/her name in PUBMED (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed), the largest worldwide collection of medical literature and journals.
Consultation: What things one must know?
Once you have finalized upon your doctor, it is time to get a consultation done. Try to be as specific as possible when explaining what you would like to have changed, and why. The doctor will examine you, assess your concerns and your medical history. Together, you and your doctor can then formulate a plan that fits your specific needs and lifestyle. During your consultation, you will have the opportunity to ask questions.
Regarding the Doctor You can ask about medical training and additional fellowships. Ask whether, he/she routinely performs the procedure and numbers done. If you notice students or observers around, it is an indicator that your doctor is known for the procedure, and is popular even as a trainer. Any papers or books published by the surgeon is an additional testament of the skills.
Regarding the surgery Ask which surgical technique will be used, and why. Whether it is day care, or requires hospitalization (your insurance claim may require hospitalization even if it is medically not needed). Procedure duration, expected pain, incision sites and scars, and type of anaesthesia should be asked. It is also important to understand the risks of surgery, and alternatives if any.
Regarding Recovery Ask about the typical downtime, routine post-operative restrictions, and the timeline when final results would be apparent.
About the Surgical Results Ask whether you can have a look at a few photos of patients operated earlier. Though patient privacy issue is important, most surgeons with decent surgical volumes should definitely have some patients who would not mind sharing their surgical results for the benefit of others (My website is a glaring example!). Ask what results 'you' should expect, and how long will they last. Will a repeat procedure be needed? Will the results be obvious?
About the Surgery Cost It is good to know the cost details, what is included, or excluded. One more important question is to enquire about insurance cover. Most defects that are by-birth (congenital) and most cosmetic procedures are not covered by insurance.
About the Hospital It is important to make a note about the hospital your surgeon works in, the facilities available, especially multi-specialty support for complex problems, and trauma. The credibility and general reputation of the hospital would certainly have significant bearing on your surgical results, and this factor is as important as the surgeon.
Final Steps The decision to get plastic surgery is a major one. Ask yourself: Do I feel comfortable with the doctor? Did the doctor take the time to explain the procedure? How receptive was the doctor to my questions? Is the set-up adequate for my surgery? Did I provide all information, completely and honestly? Once you have had all of your questions answered, you will be prepared to make a decision.
Finally, you do not have to restrict yourselves to consulting just one physician. Second and third opinions, as well as blind opinions are well accepted today, even by the doctors. Do feel free to consult more than one doctor if you wish to!