Top 5 Questions Plastic Surgeons Wish You’d Ask

When you’re researching plastic surgery online, it’s easy to find lists of questions you should ask a plastic surgeon before going under the knife. But are those lists complete? Is there anything your plastic surgeon particularly wishes you would ask?

I spoke with two board certified plastic surgeons from different ends of the country to see what they might say. Dr. Elliot Jacobs, a New York plastic surgeon, performs cosmetic procedures from head to toe for men and women and is considered a specialist in gynecomastia (male breast reduction) surgery. Dr. David Kaufman, a plastic surgeon in Sacramento, also serves a diverse clientele—offering both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery—and particularly enjoys performing plastic surgery after weight loss.

Here are some questions these two accomplished plastic surgeons like their patients to ask.

1) What results can I realistically expect?

Even though most patients claim to have reasonable expectations, you might be surprised how often people harbor dreams they perhaps didn’t even realize they had. Dr. Kaufman performs dozens of breast augmentations every month, and he enjoys the procedure for the joy it can bring women who have been unhappy about their skimpy curves. Still, he cautions, “You may have wanted bigger breasts for years, and after surgery, that’s just what you’ll have. You won’t qualify to be a swimsuit model, unless you were already well on your way before surgery.”

Dr. Jacobs adds, “After surgery, some patients micro-scrutinize the results—finding minor imperfections and focusing on those (some of which were actually present prior to surgery but never noticed), instead of looking at the major improvements that have been achieved. They should look at the big picture.”

Bonus points: Plastic surgeons especially appreciate it if you don’t ask them to replicate a celebrity’s body part. For one thing, molding your rear to look just like Pippa Middleton’s is easier said than done; for another, Pippa’s butt might not look right on you.

2) What factors will contribute to my surgical outcome?

Dr. Jacobs and Dr. Kaufman like their patients to understand that there’s a long list of factors that will influence your outcome, not just your plastic surgeon’s skill. These include your age, your skin’s elasticity, your smoking history, your nutrition level and more. Mother Nature is a very involved third party as well.

For instance, when you’re planning a facelift, know that while the surgeon will lift and secure muscles and skin into a more youthful position, a facelift will not improve the actual quality of your skin. You will still see the effects of smoking, the sun and genetics on surface tissues, and those issues will absolutely affect the final result.

Bonus points: Chances are, you will realize better results if you’ve taken good care of yourself over the years. Both Dr. Kaufman and Dr. Jacobs are fit and active and enjoy working with people who pursue good health.

3) What are the key things I can do before surgery to ensure a good experience?

Both plastic surgeons mentioned this question as a favorite. It allows them to reiterate specific instructions, such as preparing for general or sedation anesthesia with anti-nausea measures on hand, and more general instructions about which medications to suspend, when to stop consuming alcohol, to stop smoking and so on.

Best of all, this question helps indicate to your physician that you want to be a partner in achieving the outcome you seek and that you will do your part.

Bonus points: Take a notebook and write down your plastic surgeon’s recommendations. You may think you’ll remember everything, but you probably won’t.

4) During recovery, what should I be patient with, keep an eye on, or be alarmed about?

Dr. Jacobs especially likes to hear this question from his gynecomastia patients as it gives him the chance to remind them that swelling may persist for weeks after surgery. He notes that men who choose to have gynecomastia surgery sometimes check their progress in the mirror many times each day and need to be reminded to give it time.

Dr. Jacobs also lets his patients know they should contact his office if they notice bleeding, asymmetric chest enlargement or significant pain, or if they have any other concerns.

Bonus points: Ask if there’s information on line you can access during your recovery or a medical assistant you can call. Although both Dr. Kaufman and Dr. Jacobs speak with patients regularly after surgery, they are sometimes busy with other patients and want to be sure you get answers right away.

5) What can I do to maximize and prolong my results?

From advice about wearing a surgical bra after your procedure to investing in good quality bras for the long run, from protecting your face from the elements right after facelift surgery to wearing sunscreen every day, both plastic surgeons are glad to tell their patients everything they know about prolonging the effects of surgery. They would be happy to welcome you back for another procedure in the future—a different procedure. They too want your results to last and last.

Bonus points: Again, write down what your plastic surgeon has to say. He or she will be gratified to know that you’re willing to invest your own efforts in the outcome.

When you ask questions like these during your consultation, you’re indicating that you’ve thought about your procedure carefully and that you’re willing to do all you can to ensure a good result. This is exactly what any plastic surgeon likes to know.

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