The ultimate goal for your plastic surgery — whether you’re getting a breast augmentation, tummy tuck, facelift, or another procedure — is to safely deliver high-quality results. While no plastic surgery is without risk, there are precautions you can take to minimize those risks and prioritize your safety and the quality of your results.
During the initial consultation with your plastic surgeon, ask these seven paramount questions to help minimize plastic surgery risks and ensure a safe, successful procedure.
1. What Are the Medical Credentials of Those Involved In My Care?
One of the first things you likely checked on your plastic surgeon’s website was their certification with the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This certification shows the plastic surgeon has completed rigorous residency training and written and oral examinations, and they continue to meet the requirements to maintain that certification.
In addition to discussing your plastic surgeon’s medical credentials, inquire about the credentials of other staff members involved in your procedure, including anesthesiologists, nurses, physician assistants, or medical assistants. If they are available, it can be beneficial to ask to meet these staff members before your procedure, as well.
2. Do You Have Hospital Privileges?
Hospital privileges are agreements between a specific hospital and a physician allowing the physician to admit patients to that hospital for care (called admitting privileges) and/or to use the facilities and equipment to perform outpatient procedures (called surgical privileges).
Even if your procedure will be performed at an outpatient surgery center rather than a hospital, a reputable plastic surgeon should still have the ability to use hospital facilities if needed.
3. Where Will My Procedure Be Performed?
Many plastic surgeries are not performed in a hospital setting, but they should all be performed in an accredited ambulatory facility, known as an outpatient surgery center. Accredited facilities meet very strict safety guidelines for both equipment and medical personnel, helping to drastically reduce the rate of plastic surgery complications.
Thus, you must discuss the location of your upcoming procedure with your plastic surgeon ahead of time so you can make sure it is a safe, accredited facility.
4. How Much Experience Do You Have with My Procedure?
Working with an experienced plastic surgeon can help to minimize plastic surgery risk and ensure high-quality results. But while finding a seasoned plastic surgeon is certainly a benefit, you should also ensure they have specific experience with the type of procedure you’re interested in. A facial plastic surgeon who only primarily performs facelifts and rhinoplasties is not likely the best fit for someone interested in breast augmentation.
A reputable plastic surgeon should be open to discussing their experience and surgical techniques with you. You can also get a sense of the quality of results you might expect from this plastic surgeon by viewing before and after photos on their website.
5. What Are the Potential Risks and Complications?
Every surgical procedure comes with potential risks and complications. Your plastic surgeon should be upfront with you about these risks and willing to help you weigh them against the benefits of the procedure to ensure you’re a good candidate before moving forward.
Understanding potential complications before your procedure can also help you take any necessary steps to minimize risks as much as possible. Quitting smoking, adopting healthy eating and exercise habits and following your plastic surgeon’s pre- and post-procedure guidelines can significantly reduce the risk of surgical complications.
6. What Protocols Are In Place, Should an Emergency Occur?
Of course, the aim is to minimize risks and complications and avoid emergent situations altogether. However, it is always best to be over-prepared, especially where your health and safety are concerned. Your plastic surgeon should have a detailed emergency protocol in the event of a complication and should be willing and able to share that plan with you before your procedure.
7. What Can I Expect During Recovery?
Knowing what to expect during plastic surgery recovery can help you plan and prepare accordingly, minimizing post-surgery complications. Your plastic surgeon should provide you with detailed post-procedure instructions and should be able to thoroughly answer your questions about what to expect, what to look out for and how to contact their office if you have concerns once you’re at home.
Finally, don’t be afraid to get a second or even third opinion if you’re not satisfied with the answers to these questions at the first consultation. Choosing a plastic surgeon is a big decision, so take your time and trust your gut.