Before you make any decision related to plastic surgery, research is an absolute must. Trying to understand what to expect, what questions you should ask, and what kind of answers you should be getting, however, can feel overwhelming at first. As you consult with physicians at any practice, the five questions below can help guide the conversation. We encourage you to ask the same of us at Charlotte Plastic Surgery, and to make sure you’re fully informed no matter where you go. Here are the top 5 plastic surgery questions to ask your doctor.
1. Are you board-certified in plastic surgery?
This is the most important question you can ask regarding plastic surgery questions to ask your doctor. What you’re looking for: Board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), the only Board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to certify doctors in the specialty of plastic surgery. Being board certified in plastic surgery means your physician has gone through an extensive process that requires completion of an accredited plastic surgery residency program, followed by a period of practice experience and rigorous written and oral exams. Make sure you choose a physician who is either board-certified by the ABPS or is actively pursuing certification and can explain his or her progress in the process to you.
What to be wary of: Doctors can have their medical license or be board-certified in any other specialty and still call themselves plastic surgeons. Just like you wouldn’t choose a podiatrist to check your heart, you should always make sure your physician is board certified in his or her given specialty – in this case, plastic surgery through the ABPS.
2. Where will my surgery be performed?
What you’re looking for: A hospital, surgicenter or office-based surgical facility. You should insist on a surgery location that is either a hospital or ambulatory surgery facility, or is an accredited office-based surgical facility. You can check resources like the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) to find accredited facilities.
What to be wary of: While most accredited office-based surgery centers have safety records comparable to those of hospitals, some office-based surgery centers are not actually accredited and may be lacking in the safety protocols, training, or equipment needed to give you the best care.
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3. Do any factors in my lifestyle, behaviors, habits, health, etc. preclude me from being a good candidate for this surgery?
What you’re looking for: A thorough consultation where your physician requests a full medical history, including detailed questions about your lifestyle, allergies, habits (smoking, drinking alcohol, exercise, etc.) and more. Your physician should be looking for as much information as possible about you in order to make an informed decision about what, if any, procedure will achieve the best results. And your physician should be honest with you about risks and benefits that go along with surgery. Charlotte Plastic Surgery is always thorough and honest with patients about what to expect and when surgery is not the best solution for them.
What to be wary of: Some physicians take a more “one-size-fits-all” approach and will not ask detailed questions, be candid about expectations and risks, or establish a connection with what a patient is truly looking for. Make sure you consult with multiple physicians and compare how they interact with you, including the information they request and offer.
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4. What kind of follow-up care do you provide?
What you’re looking for: A structured, detailed plan of post-operative care, including follow-up appointments, detailed directions for at-home care, and a plan of action should surgical revisions be necessary.
What to be wary of: Any lack of planning or next steps for after your surgery should be a red flag. You should feel like your physician will be eager and ready to follow-up with you after surgery, not like your visit is a one-time stop-in.
Learn more: Request a consultation to learn about our follow-up care.
5. What kind of results have you had with other patients?
What you’re looking for: A physician who is thorough, honest and open about his or her experience. This includes safety records, number of cases / procedures performed, before and after photos, and willingness for the patient to talk to prior patients about their experience with the physician. Your doctor should not be hesitant to share any of this information.
What to be wary of: This is an excellent example of when to trust your gut. If you feel like you’re being misled or that something is being hidden from you, you shouldn’t be comfortable with that physician. Confirm that before and after photos are from that physician’s work at that practice, and don’t just show a handful of only his or her best results. Ask directly about safety records, training, number of procedures performed. They may seem like silly questions, but a quality, experienced physician will be ready and willing to answer them.
Always feel empowered to challenge your physician; if something feels off, trust your instincts and ask to see actual results.
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So bring your plastic surgery questions to ask a doctor and contact us today to set up your consultation.
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