Kathleen Purcell Date Published
Nov 14 2000
Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon in Fairfield, Conn., advises people shopping for a plastic surgeon to ask the following questions before undergoing any procedure. What is your certifying board? The American Board of Plastic Surgeons (ABPS) is the only certifying body recognized by the American Medical Association to certify plastic surgeons. You can obtain a referral to a board-certified plastic surgeon by visiting the Web site of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, or by calling them at 1-888-4-PLASTIC. What was your residency in? Board-certified plastic surgeons must spend some of their residency in their specialty — plastic surgery. Do you have privileges at a hospital to perform the same procedure you are about to do in your office? Look for a surgeon who has surgical privileges at a hospital. What are the benefits of the procedure we are talking about? You can expect the surgery to recontour, rejuvenate or reshape the areas of concern, and to improve your overall appearance. Beware a surgeon who promises miracles. He should encourage realistic expectations. Are there other procedures or associated services that might enhance my appearance? Some procedures work best when accompanied by complementary procedures. For instance, if you’re having eyelid surgery done, consider also having an eyebrow lift. Are there potential risks from the surgery? What are the major complications and do they occur frequently? You want your surgeon to discuss the major risks and complications of the procedure you are considering. Some of these might include the potential for bleeding, infection, poor scarring and complications that would be unique to the individual procedure. Although these complications occur infrequently, the surgeon should be aware of them and therefore protect you from their possible occurrence. Your surgeon should tell you what type of anesthesia will be used and give you the rational for the type of sedation you will receive. Are there regimens I can do prior to surgery to improve my results? You’ll get the best results if you are in good health before surgery. Your physician may advise you to improve your diet, get exercise, refrain from smoking and start a vitamin regimen. He might also warn you to stay away from products that increase bleeding in the days prior to surgery, including aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamin E and certain herbal products. What should I do after surgery to optimize my results? A few simple steps after the procedure will ensure you get the best results possible for you. Your surgeon will advise you, but his recommendations may include: continue to eat well; restrict all strenuous exercise for a number of weeks to reduce swelling, bruising and the risk of excessive bleeding; and refrain from cigarette smoking for three weeks, if not forever. How long will it take to heal completely, and will there be visible scars? Your surgeon should be able to prepare you for the recovery period. Results vary from individual to individual, but in general there will be an improvement in your appearance within the first few weeks after surgery. At that time you should expect to look better than before surgery, but you will have residual swelling, which takes between six weeks and six months to diminish. Scars can take up to one year to mature, but they can be placed in shadows or less conspicuous places to minimize their visibility. When can I resume my normal activities? You will want to rest your body after surgery to give it a chance to heal. To accelerate your healing, avoid strenuous activity for three weeks and follow your surgeon’s instructions. A little makeup goes a long way to cover any residual bruising, and you might be able return to normal work activities within six to 10 days, depending upon the procedure. Do you have before and after photos or patients I can speak to before surgery? While results will vary among individuals, and you should not assume your procedure would turn out the same as someone else’s, your surgeon should be willing to provide before and after photos of patients on whom he has performed surgical procedures.