Top 10: Questions to Ask your Plastic Surgeon

The decision to get any type of plastic surgery is a big one and raises many questions throughout the process. I always want my patients to feel completely comfortable asking me any questions they may have, regardless of how “silly” they might think they are. Remember, there are no silly questions! To help guide the conversation, here are 10 things you should ask your plastic surgeon before making any decisions to move forward.

What professional qualifications and affiliations do you have? Are you Board Certified?

Don’t be shy about asking your potential plastic surgeon about his or her professional qualifications. You can even follow up with the certifying organization to confirm his or her membership. I am an active member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. I encourage patients to ask me about my qualifications and I believe that any reputable doctor would say the same. My primary concern is that my patients are comfortable with my level of professional experience and qualifications so that they can feel confident that they are making a good choice.

How many times have you performed this particular procedure?

Again, don’t feel that you may offend a doctor by asking him or her how many times he or she has performed the procedure you are considering. I am always happy to chat with patients about the number of times I have performed their particular type of surgery. You are putting your health, safety and cosmetic looks into the hands of this surgeon. It is well within your rights to query him or her about his or her level of experience with a particular surgery.

Where will my procedure be performed?

Another important thing to ask is where your procedure is going to be performed. Many cosmetic procedures are performed as outpatient operations. However, not all outpatient facilities are the same. Ask some qualifying questions about the facility, such as if it is surgically accredited.

What is your facility’s safety record?

It is important for you to know about the safety record of the facility where your procedure will be performed. Facilities should conform to strict safety standards, and may be accredited by one or both of the two major safety accrediting organizations: The American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities and the Accreditation for Ambulatory Health Care. Northbrook Plastic Surgery, where the majority of my procedures are performed, is fully accredited by both the AAAASF and the AAHC.

Do you have admitting rights to a local hospital?

With any surgical procedure, there is always some risk associated with it. In the rare event that complications arise during surgery, you will want to know that your surgeon has access to an area hospital for emergency care. My surgically accredited facility is equipped to deal with just about any complication that should arise, but I also have admitting rights at many area hospitals. It’s important to me that my patients know that they are in very capable hands.

What other medical staff will assist with my procedure?

It’s also important to know the full range of individuals who will be helping with your surgical procedure, as well as what their level of expertise is. Another important thing to ask is whether your plastic surgeon is associated with a teaching hospital and if any students will be involved in your surgery. It’s up to you what your level of comfort is with the possibility of a student assisting in your procedure, but it’s a good thing to know in advance. In my practice, all members of the surgical team are fully licensed and experienced medical professionals with many years on the job.

What type of anesthesia will be used for my procedure?

There are three general types of anesthesia. Local anesthesia temporarily numbs only a portion of the body. It is administered at the site of the surgery. Think of local anesthesia as the novacaine used at the dentist’s office. The second form of anesthesia is regional anesthesia. This, too, numbs only a portion of the body, but is administered via the nerves that provide feeling to that part of the body and therefore numbs a greater portion of the body. Regional anesthesia is the type of anesthesia used in childbirth. The final type of anesthesia, and the one most commonly used in cosmetic surgery procedures, is general anesthesia. This is used to induce unconsciousness during surgery. There are varying degrees of general anesthesia, which you can discuss at length with your potential plastic surgeon. I always discuss with my patients the type of anesthesia that will be used during their procedure and answer any questions they may have about it.

May I meet with the anesthesiologist beforehand?

The anesthesiologist is a crucial member of the surgical team. He or she is not only responsible for administering the anesthesia, but for also managing and treating changes in your critical life functions (breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure), as they are affected by the surgery being performed. Meeting with the anesthesiologist before your procedure can be a very important part of preparing for surgery, especially if you have ever had any reactions to any type of anesthesia in the past. In my practice, I partner with NorthShore University HealthSystem and their expert team of surgical staff, including board certified anesthesiologists.

What does the recovery period look like for my procedure?

Asking about the typical recovery time for your particular procedure will help you plan accordingly, from taking time off of work to finding help with childcare or pet care. Make sure to ask any prospective plastic surgeon what the range of recovery time will be, as well as the best ways to help yourself heal after surgery.

What are all of the costs involved with this procedure? Will insurance cover any of it?

When discussing fees, be sure to ask what is included in the price quote, so you have a full financial picture. For example, in our estimated pricing we include surgeon’s fees, anesthesia fees, implants, surgical facility fees and all follow-up visits. Other offices may present the costs differently. Therefore, you want to have a thorough understanding of all costs involved so that you don’t have any financial surprises post-surgery. Most insurance companies will not cover cosmetic surgery, but it’s best to call beforehand to determine what, if anything may be covered, and receive pre-approval. Many offices, including MAE Plastic Surgery, will provide financing options. These can be an attractive option to help with the cost of surgery.

I hope that these questions help you in your consultation with a plastic surgeon. The most important thing is that you feel supremely confident on surgery day. It’s an exciting time, after all!