1. Before you start scrolling Before and Afters on Insta- think about whether having plastic surgery is actually right for you. Unlike getting a new hairdo- surgery is permanent and does have real risks and complications. First- is there something concrete about your body that can be improved with surgery? For example- “The extra pooch on my tummy after kids really bugs me” is doable. “I just hate how I look”- probably not. Second- how much does it affect you? A good rule of thumb is does this part of your body bother you daily or weekly? If so then surgery could make sense. If it’s something you think about only occasionally then think twice before jumping into surgery. Finally- can you afford it? Even if you get a wonderful result, if you are stressed out about paying for your surgery, it will take away from the confidence boosting benefits of plastic surgery.
2. OK- you have decided that you want to go for it. How should you find the right plastic surgeon for you? The best referrals come by word of mouth. Have any of your friends had a procedure? Were they happy with it? This can be tricky, as sometimes people don’t want to admit they have had plastic surgery, although this is definitely changing. If you don’t know anyone personally who has had a procedure, do you have any friends who are doctors or nurses? Or ask your primary care doctor. They will often be able to recommend someone. I find the best inside recommendations for all types of surgeons come from anesthesiologists and OR nurses as they work with all of the different doctors for each type of specialty and see their work in action.
3. Do your research. Make sure that your surgeon has the correct training and certifications. Did you know that anyone with a medical license can technically perform any procedures if they have their own office? Plastic surgeons should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Facial plastic surgeons should be certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology with additional fellowship training in facial plastic surgery. Oculoplastic surgeons should be certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology with additional fellowship training in oculoplastic surgery. Board certification in “cosmetic surgery” is a red flag as this is not a regulated field of training. Plasticsurgery.org is a good resource.
4. Meet with your surgeon. Do you feel comfortable with them? Do they listen to your concerns? Can they clearly explain their plan for surgery so that you understand and are on the same page? Plastic surgery is very different from, say getting your gallbladder removed, in that the surgery is only successful if you are happy with the outcome. If you can’t communicate well with your surgeon, you may end up getting what they think looks best instead of what you actually wanted. I can’t tell you how many patients I have met who have had technically successful procedures but are unhappy because they ended up with something they were not expecting. For example, surgeons who say they will pick the implant size that looks the best, but ends up being much larger than the patient was expecting. Make sure that you like your surgeon and they like you. If you don’t feel a good connection, make some other appointments.
5. You have booked your surgery- congratulations! Make sure your surgery will take place in an accredited facility- if you are going to a surgery center, it should be accredited by the AAAASF, AAHC, or JCAHCO. These organizations make sure that safety criteria are being followed for both surgery and anesthesia. You should have a preoperative appointment so that you understand instructions for before and after surgery, have reviewed all of the risks, and understand how to reach your surgeon should you have any questions or problems after surgery. You should also have had financial counseling so that you understand all payment policies including possible need for revisions. It is normal to be a bit nervous, but now just try to relax and get ready for your new look, feeling confident that you have picked the best plastic surgeon for you!