A definition of cosmetic surgery is the change of a normal appearance into another one that makes the quality of life better. The exact nature of normality is a complex one and the benchmarks for this are usually very personal. Usually, the problems and anxieties raised by a cosmetic issue have been thought about and perhaps even agonised over for a long time. Therefore, any decisions to go ahead with treatment should never be rushed and you, as a patient, should never feel pressured.
Firstly, the patient must be assessed to ensure there is a treatable problem and that the surgery is within the capabilities of the doctor. This requires trust and respect between both the patient and surgeon. If this is lacking, for whatever reason, then no treatment should go ahead. Providing the surgeon has a website, you may be able to find information about his or her qualifications and experience online. However, it is perfectly acceptable to ask your doctor about their qualifications and background during your consultation too.
The purpose of a consultation is to define the problem and to make sure that you are medically and psychologically fit enough for the procedure. During your consultation, your surgeon should ask you a number of questions, including why you want to have cosmetic surgery as well as other medical based questions. If you feel that the surgeon does not understand you or has not asked about the whole picture, then it is likely that the intention of the surgeon may not align with yours. A good surgeon is a good doctor first and will find out the relevant facts about you to make sure the surgery is truly in your interests. There should not be a mismatch between your aims and the surgeon technical ability to fulfil them.
Cosmetic surgery should be regarded as another important form of healthcare delivery. The medical infrastructure needed to deliver this is at the same standard as for any other speciality and should be viewed the same as neurosurgery or orthopaedic surgery. If you get any other impression from your surgeon or any other medical professional– run away!
During your consultation, you’ll get the chance to ask lots of questions, not only about the surgeon but as well as the procedure ahead. The types of questions you may want to ask include:
-Where is the surgery going to take place?
-Who will be performing the surgery? (In some instances, your consultation may not be with the same consultant performing your surgery – again, if this is the case – run!)
-What is the surgeon’s experience and what qualifications do they have?
-What are the provisions for aftercare?
-What if something goes wrong after the surgery both short and long-term?
If the answers to these important queries are not satisfactory, you should say no to whatever is proposed.
Questions relating to aftercare are particularly pertinent if you are wishing to have cosmetic surgery abroad. It’s important to remember that while there may be great surgeons in other parts of the world, your treatment is about more than just surgery. Therefore, unless there is practical access for your surgeon to do a post-operative follow-up, you need to think carefully about the location of your primary treatment.
You should never be pressured into cosmetic surgery by anyone and that includes family, friends, a partner or a surgeon. I would advise staying away from offers such as ‘buy one and get one free’ or money off discounts if you book before a certain date. These types of offers are particularly popular during the Christmas period as this tends to be a slower time for cosmetic surgery. However, I would regard these as a form of coercion and I believe cosmetic surgery is not a decision that should be made lightly.
With this said, it is not unusual for a surgeon to suggest additional procedures during your consultation to alleviate your primary concerns. This may be entirely in order because a sincere and experienced surgeon may see aspects about your features that you may not have been aware of and which may be part of the problem or making your cosmetic problem worse. For example, it is not unusual for patients to complain about a large nose when their real problem may be that the chin is small. However, if at the end of the consultation, you have been persuaded to undergo additional procedures that make you feel uneasy or that you do not understand, go back for a second consultation to clarify matters. If you still do not understand, you should defer.
Finally, respect the surgeon who says no to you – there is usually a good reason for this. A good surgeon will never agree to perform a procedure that is not right for the patient, no matter what the price tag attached to that procedure might be. Most importantly, before opting for cosmetic surgery, think long and hard about why you want it. Make sure it is for yourself and not for anyone else. If someone other than you is suggesting that you should have cosmetic surgery, you should be saying no to that person!