Why Plastic Surgery Consultation Is Important and Why It’s Not Free
The first step when you are thinking of having plastic surgery is the consultation. The consultation is when you first meet with your surgeon, discuss the the things you want to fix or the surgeries you are considering. When people call into the office, some of them wonder why the consultation isn’t free, why it takes almost an hour, and sometimes take it for granted.
First of all, the consultation is probably one of the most important steps in the entire process. During that visit, I really take the time to understand specifically what my patient wants to change and what is bothering them. Many times, they think they want one procedure, but that procedure won’t actually address their problem. For example, sometimes a patient comes in because they want liposuction – but when I see them, what really bothers them is a pouch of hanging skin at the bottom of their stomach so they actually need a tummy tuck. Or they think they need Botox because their eyes look tired, but what they actually need is an eye lift. During the consultation, we discuss everything – the person’s profession, their hobbies, their lifestyle, their concerns because all of those things are important in the decision making process.
I also perform a detailed history and physical. In the medical history, sometimes there are things that really affect their results, the way they heal, or may need pre-op medical clearance or planning to perform surgery safely for them. In the physical exam, I determine what the correct procedure is for them to address their concerns. I look at old scars that may affect wound healing, complications, and feel for any physical findings that may affect the final result and help the patient understand, on their body, what to realistically expect from their surgery.
I explain and discuss the procedure in detail, usually with drawings or other visual aids to help them understand what it involves. We talk about the risks, benefits, and alternatives as well as what the recovery and post op care will be like. All questions are answered and I actually encourage patients to bring in questions, photos they want me to see as a reference, and I go over the most common questions and concerns people have.
The consultation usually lasts an hours – sometimes less but usually more. It is very comprehensive and educational. Without creating the proper plan or having good communication and true understanding, someone may get the wrong surgery, and even worse, result in complications that could have been avoided. A thorough consultation is the key to patients being prepared, excited, and happy.
I charge for my consultations for several reasons. First of all, just like any other doctor (or lawyer, or any other profession) I charge for that time where I do an history, a physical, and make diagnosis and recommendations for treatment and a plan. Secondly, the consultation fee goes towards the surgical procedure so patients who really want to have surgery don’t pay any extra. Because of the time it takes to do the consultation, there are only so many patients I can see in a given day. I’m in surgery at least 3, usually 4 times a week, so that leaves only a few hours on a few days that I can see for consultations. Because there is only one me and I do all my consultations MYSELF – not a nurse, not a consultant, not an office staff, logistically, I only have time to see patients who are serious about surgery. If I could sit and talk to people all day, that would be great and I would probably enjoy meeting everyone who was interested in talking to me about plastic surgery, but then my patients would never get operated on!
I take time with every single one of my patients and value the quality of our relationship. The relationship that starts with the consultation.