Are you considering a cosmetic procedure? Do you have questions and concerns? A cosmetic surgery consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon is the first and most important step a patient takes towards undergoing a cosmetic procedure. You need to be confident about your decision and prepared for what is to come before you go under the knife and the right steps can help you get there.
1. Choosing a qualified and experienced surgeon :

Nowadays a quick search on the Internet can yield a whole list of cosmetic surgeons. But you need to find a doctor with credible credentials, preferably someone who is a board certified plastic and cosmetic surgeon and a member of the Indian association of aesthetic plastic surgeons. A qualified surgeon will be forth coming about his or her training, board certification and experience in cosmetic surgery generally and your procedure specifically. The surgeon should be able to help answer your questions, discuss your options, make recommendations and boost your confidence in your decisions.

2. Don’t be shy :

This is your opportunity to share your concerns and get the answers to your various questions regarding the cosmetic procedure. Don’t be shy. There is no such thing as a stupid question. A good doctor will be patient and will explain everything about the procedure to you. Ask everything that comes to mind. Make a list of questions before your appointment so that you can make sure you cover it all with your doctor.

3. Go back for more consultations before your surgery :

The first consultation may not always be your final one before your surgery. After the first consultation you may want to go back and discuss further with a friend or relative regarding the options provided by your surgeon. You might have some doubts to clear or you may want to reassure yourself with a few things your surgeon has recommended. A second consultation is a welcoming gesture from your surgeon and will give you another opportunity to clear your mind. You may also want to be accompanied by a relative or friend for the second consultation if that was not the case for the first one. The key is to take your time before making this important decision. Avoid telephone consultations, as they are not as effective as face-to-face consultations when it comes to assessing the gravity of the problem.

4. Choosing the right hospital :

Your doctor will either perform the procedure at his or her clinic or will be affiliated with a hospital where you will undergo the procedure. The standards of safety, cleanliness, emergency equipment and patient care should be as per the government guidelines. Consult your surgeon regarding the hospital before you book in the procedure.

5. Don’t rush or feel pressured into a procedure :

Most patients who visit plastic surgeons are unhappy with a particular part of their body and are keen to make a change quickly. It is the job of your doctor to talk through your problem and provide you with a sensible solution. He or she should give you all your options and let you decide what is best for you. Your surgeon should not be pressurizing you to undergo a particular procedure. A pushy surgeon may not be genuine and it is important to check his or her credentials before you actually jump onto the operating table. The right doctor acts as your guide and sounding board.

6. Cost of surgery :

Your surgeon should be able to give you the approximate cost of your surgery. You can always ask your surgeon about any accessory costs you will have to bear apart from the charges he or she has quoted for you. A very high or low priced surgeon does not mean you have to draw conclusions regarding the capability of the surgeon. All because the charges suit your budget does not mean the doctor is of poorer standards.

7. Don’t let the Internet overwhelm you :

These days it is very easy to research all the details regarding a procedure and question your doctor about it. For your own peace of mind, don’t fall into the rabbit hole of too much information. Doing so will not only confuse you but it will also cloud your judgment and make you doubt your doctor. Trust your surgeon and ask him or her all your questions rather than the Internet.

8. Keep an open mind :

You need to be able to fully understand what your cosmetic procedure involves. Don’t walk into your doctor’s office with your mind made up. Walk in with your concerns and let the doctor shed some light on the possibilities. If you have already made up your mind and have fixed ideas regarding the surgery and the look or contour you want to achieve, it may be difficult for you to grasp your surgeon’s point of view. Every surgery or procedure has its pros and cons and you must weight these out before finalizing on the surgery.

9. Take your time :

After consulting your doctor and discussing your options with family or friends, give yourself some room to think it all through before you sign up for the procedure. You have to be mentally prepared for the actual surgery as well as post-surgery recovery that could be painful depending on the procedure you opt for. Giving yourself some space to think will make sure that you make the right decision for you.

Dr. Amiti Shah, Mumbai