Once you’ve decided that you want to do a plastic surgery procedure, the next step is to try to find a qualified plastic surgeon that you feel comfortable with. Your choice of plastic surgeon is the most important and the most difficult decision you will be making. Whether you find out about them through advertisements or personal referrals, it is crucial that you ask the right plastic surgery questions.
The following is a short list of 10 questions you should ask at a plastic surgery consultation. If you notice any red flags or feel anything but confident in the responses, consider looking elsewhere for your surgery.
10 Questions to Ask at a Plastic Surgery Consultation:
1. Is the plastic surgeon a fully trained plastic surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
Physician must complete four years of medical school, at least three years of a general surgery residency, and at least two years of a plastic surgery residency through fully accredited programs to become a plastic surgeon. This is a very important decision so do your due diligence and be sure they’ve completed all of the above and have history under their belt.
Rather than become a private investigator to get your answers, one of the best ways to make sure the plastic surgeon meets those requirements is to check that they’re board certified which includes a written and three-day oral exam given by many of the national leaders of plastic surgery around the country. You want your surgeon to be board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery to ensure they have the qualifications you require.
2. What type of residency program did your plastic surgeon graduate from?
Although they sometimes are, the terms “plastic surgeon” and “cosmetic surgeon” are not interchangeable and, unfortunately, any physician can claim to be the latter even if they’re not trained as a surgeon at all. Anyone with a medical degree is legally able to perform plastic surgery and claim to be a cosmetic surgeon but that includes physicians trained as gynecologists, dermatologists, oral surgeons, and more. You do not want them to perform your surgery as a botched job can lead to poor results and the need multiple corrective surgeries.
3. Where is the surgery being performed and have there been any serious complications at the plastic surgery site?
Make sure that patient safety is a priority wherever your surgery will be performed. Serious injuries or deaths may result from plastic surgery and there have been many more deaths at busy discount centers than in surgery centers owned by the plastic surgeon. Don’t just ask if there have been any problems in the center you are going to, research it. Once you’ve researched if the cosmetic surgery center has had any serious complications, check who owns it. You should look for centers are owned by physicians, not businesses so your safety is a top concern and in the hands of qualified individuals.
4. Is your plastic surgeon employed by a cosmetic surgery center or work for themselves and what percentage of the fee does the plastic surgeon get?
When cosmetic surgery centers are owned by non-physicians, the owners hire plastic surgeons who need extra work and will settle for minimal compensation which may require them to do more surgeries per day and the procedures may be rushed and results compromised. As an employee, a physician often has little control over the schedule, over safety measures, quality control, etc. whereas a self-employed surgeon has the ability to make all of the decisions regarding the care of their patients.
5. Does your plastic surgeon have staff privileges at a local hospital or only a transfer agreement?
Licensed physicians should have staff privileges in at least one local hospital and if they do not, you need to ask why. First and foremost, ensure that their privileges were not revoked because that is an immediate red flag. Also, be sure they have staff privileges and not just a transfer agreement. If there is an emergency, you want to make sure that your surgeon can continue caring for you as they know your history and background and that you would not be passed off to a different physician.
6. How many surgeries are scheduled on the day of your surgery?
The biggest mistakes are made when a surgeon is rushed as plastic surgery requires patience, concentration, and stamina. If the day’s schedule is very busy, a surgeon can be hurried or distracted even if they felt like they have plenty of time between procedures. Be sure that your surgeon limits the amount of surgeries on any given day so that they can give each patient, namely yourself the attention they deserve. You do not want to be fourth or fifth surgery of the day or even the first if your physician has many more cases to go.
7. Are you feeling pressured to sign up and do the prices keep fluctuating?
Have you ever made a decision very quickly only to find out that there was a better alternative out there? That should never be the case with something as major as plastic surgery! While corrective surgeries are not uncommon in this field and Dr. Wigoda performs them regularly, they often are more tolling than the initial procedure and require even more care. Don’t let someone talk you into a procedure and pressure you into signing up that day to receive a discount. If you do sign with the first plastic surgery center you meet, give yourself a few weeks before going under the knife so you have more time to meet with your surgeon and ask any questions you need. Beware of discounts or fluctuating prices.
8. Are you choosing a plastic surgeon or a center?
When you call to schedule an appointment for a consultation, make sure you are you told which surgeon you will see. Better yet, research the surgeons and tell them who you want to meet with. Depending on their schedules, cosmetic centers may assign a plastic surgeon based on availability, not who is the most qualified for your plastic surgery procedure. Furthermore, make sure the plastic surgeon you meet with for your plastic surgery consultation is the same plastic surgeon who will be performing your plastic surgery.
9. Does the center use surgical assistants to complete part of the procedure?
Busy centers that need to finish your surgery quickly often employ surgical assistants to help the surgeon and you may not have the ability to research these assistants as in depth as your main surgeon. It is unlikely that the center will admit that anyone besides your primary plastic surgeon is doing the procedure, so the answer to question six about how many plastic surgeries are planned in a day may be a clear indicator of the answer to this question. Really, how else can one plastic surgeon to do that many cases daily on a regular basis?
10. Has your plastic surgeon or center ever faced any disciplinary actions?
Find out if your surgeon or their center has ever been A) disciplined by the Board of Medicine or had their license suspended which you can research online here or B) been sued. Unfortunately, patients may be disappointed with their results if they were not well educated on what to expect so the fact that a doctor has been sued, settled, or lost a case does not necessarily mean they were at fault, however, multiple lawsuits or settlements should raise a red flag.
Be sure to print and take these ten questions to your plastic surgery consultation along with any other pieces of information you may have to ensure you have the safest plastic surgery procedure with the best possible results. If you’re not 100 percent confident with the responses, take your time and consider alternative plastic surgeons until you find the right fit.
To help save you time, board certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Paul Wigoda has already answered these plastic surgery questions.
If you feel confident in the responses, reserve your free consultation with Dr. Wigoda today to learn more.
Image Source: Ion Chiosea