Visiting a cosmetic surgeon or a facial plastic surgeon can be stressful. People often go to their appointment with a list of questions based on what they think may be the most import things to ask. As a surgeon, I have a unique view of what should be asked and what I would ask if I was in the patients’ position.
The goal of this article is to discuss, from a cosmetic surgeon’s perspective, what are the important questions to ask. This applies to all procedures: fillers, facelifts, rhinoplasties, laser wrinkle treatments and even eyebrow and eyelid issues.
- Is the surgeon a specialist for your particular area of the body?
Some cosmetic surgeons only perform surgery on the head and neck (including the face) while some are experts on other parts of the body. If you are planning on have a rhinoplasty (nose job) it is a good idea to ask if your surgeon has specialty training in this specific area of the body. Some surgeons (like myself) have also received additional training and had to pass a two-day examination by The American Academy of Facial Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery.
- Did the surgeon get extra training after their standard surgery training?
This is related to point one, but it is important to ask. The most highly trained surgeons often have extra training specific to their expertise. To bring you up to speed, surgical training first involves medical school, which all doctors complete. After this, medical students graduate and become doctors, but they still require more training. In Canada doctors then apply for Residency Training Programs, which in the case of specialties like Head and Neck Surgery and Plastic Surgery can be very competitive.
These programs are intensive 5 year training where the doctor learns to be a surgeon. At the end of this, we write a one-day exam and then undergo a one-day oral exam on all the material we are expected to know and perform. If we fail, we need to wait another year and do the exam again, and if we pass we can then work as a specialist. After this, some surgeons (like myself) do extra-training to become sub-specialized. I completed a fellowship in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery accredited by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Ask your surgeon if they have these qualifications.
- Does your surgeon ONLY do cosmetic surgery or do they also do functional or medical based surgery?
I believe that a physician who does both cosmetic and medical based procedures has the best understanding of your anatomy and physiology. These surgeons can use their knowledge to ensure you not only look good, but also function well.
- How does your surgeon deal with mistakes and complications?
If a surgeon tells you they never had a complication, it’s not true. All surgery caries risk and the key to this is both minimizing risk and knowing that your surgeon will help you if something happens. Make sure your surgeon agrees to follow you regularly and agrees that if there is a problem, they are committed to helping you treat it.
- How often does your surgeon follow you after surgery?
If you surgeon follows you closely after your surgery, there is a better chance of ensuring there are no surprises. Also, if something does happen, you know you can be treated quickly.
- Is your surgeon up to date on research and cutting-edge technology?
It is easy to learn some basic procedures and then perform these procedures the same way for your entire career. However, things change our understanding of procedures and human physiology changes. A surgeon who performs research is often up to date in the newest technology and research findings. This ensures you get the best possible result. Ask your surgeon if they have published their research in journals. Ask if they have any notable research that has been featured in the media. This shows that your surgeon is up to date.
- What products does your facial plastic surgeon use?
This question could be a topic in itself. That being said, make sure you ask what products the surgeon uses and why. Most products that treat aging skin and wrinkles in Canada are safe, but there are minor differences. The key is asking why a surgeon uses a particular one.
- Does your surgeon have before and after pictures of their surgery?
This seems obvious, but it can be complicated. Not everyone wants to have their face on the internet or have their face shown in clinics. Patients need to consent to this. However, surgeons who have experience should have at least a few photos to show you.
- Is the cosmetic surgeon or plastic surgeon the best surgeon for your problem?
Don’t be afraid to ask this. I would. If a complex patient with a problem that I feel is above my expertise comes to me, I have no hesitation recommending the best person for the job. As a doctor, it is my job to ensure the best results possible for the patient. I know what I am good at and I know what my areas of expertise are. If I do not feel comfortable, I will recommend another surgeon. What I do advise against are surgeons who think they are the best at everything. No one is. We all need to admit our weaknesses to ensure you get the best result.
- Does your surgeon think you are a good fit for the surgery?
Another important question you need to ask. Although you may want a facelift, does your surgeon think your face and features are at the point where you are going to get your money’s worth. Also, does your surgeon think the benefits of the potential surgery outweigh the risk of surgery? As I mentioned, all surgeries have risks. If you have a problem and feel as though the benefit is greater than the risk, then it may be right for you. If you feel as though the risks outweigh the benefits, I would think twice about the procedure, as you may regret it in the end.
Seeing a cosmetic surgeon can be a stressful, intimidating and often confusing time. There will be a lot of information and suggestions give to you. Try to write these down or ensure that your surgeon gives you information so that you can do some research when you get home.
Asking the right questions will ensure you get the best information and that you understand what treatments you may require. Furthermore, by ensuring you ask your surgeons good questions, you will feel confident and comfortable in your decision.