Choosing your Surgeon
Finding the surgeon right for you can take time and research. Here are some suggestions from plastic surgical consultant Gail Foster Zanville.
"I have been to so many doctors and I am more confused than ever." "I didn't realize a business like yours existed until I was referred to you by my girlfriend." These are typical comments from my clients. After all, this is Beverly Hills, the plastic surgery capital of the world. How is it possible people are still confused about who to go to, what is involved in the process, and feeling confident with the doctor chosen?
After having consulted in doctors' offices for many years, it has been my experience that patients are not well-educated about the total plastic surgery process. They arrive at a consultation having questions in their mind, promising themselves they won't forget them. The doctor walks in, smiles, and says: "So, Ms. Smith, what are we here for today?" What do you say? Do you even know? You would surely know the general area of anatomy to be discussed, but what about options? Shouldn't you know what procedures are specific for your case? What non-surgical options do you have, if applicable? Plastic surgery is a multi-faceted process. There is information you should know even before entering the doctor's office for consultation. My advice is to do as much research as possible.
In my 23 years of experience as an operating room surgical assistant and a consultant for some of the most successful, prestigious doctors in Beverly Hills, I realized that all things considered, there could be a more effective, complete way to educate and inform patients about what to expect when considering plastic surgery. This often includes addressing emotional, as well as physical aspects of surgery, discussing realistic expectations, what they hope to achieve, informing patients about pre-operative and post-operative instructions, information on returning to work, resuming exercise, logistical concerns, swelling, bruising, as well as diet, smoking, and discussion about homeopathic medications that can help the healing process. While the doctor's office will give you instruction, it is an enormous asset to have a constant support system from your first consultation through your recovery.
I can't tell you how many clients think they know who the best doctor is. "My girlfriends all use him and they love him." In the meantime, the girlfriends have had face work done and you want breast augmentation. He may not do as many of your particular procedure or he may not be as technically expert. Maybe he just doesn't like doing them! Would you still want to use him because your girlfriends did? Don't get me wrong, word of mouth is a good way to hear about a doctor, but always do your own research. Talk to well-respected people who have inside knowledge about specific doctors. As someone who has been in the world of plastic surgery for 23 years, I know physicians (some dear friends) who admit to referring to doctors as a sort of "Boy's Club" camaraderie. A way to reciprocate for receiving patients of their own. Does an oncologist really know how many or how well the plastic surgeon he refers does a tummy tuck? Choosing your surgeon is, by far, the most important decision you will make. Make sure that you do your homework. Don't just listen for the "buzz" names. Listen to those who can give you appropriate information to make an intelligent decision. Being an active participant in every phase of the process will see you through in a way which may surprise you.
The service I provide my clients is comprehensive and thorough. It is tailor-made to meet your specific needs. No number of questions is too many and my availability is consistent. The most important way to ensure optimum surgical results is through education. In consultation, you are given a complete packet of information. This includes questions to ask your doctor; what to know prior to signing your consent; medication and homeopathic information; information about aspirin compounds and what not to take prior to surgery; information about the emotional aftermath, which can be quite intense. Many patients become depressed about a week to 10 days after surgery. I can attest to that. I am three months post-op from fairly extensive eyelid surgery. I wasn't convinced I would experience the depression, but I did. It usually doesn't last long, but just knowing the possibility exists is calming.
One of the most common questions I am asked is, "Why would I see a consultant and not a doctor?" Well, the reason you would see me would be for education, information, and Board certified plastic surgeon referrals. As an adjunct to my personal consultation, I provide at least two to three referrals to physicians most suited to meet your specific needs. They do not charge my clients for consultation, so in addition to the education and consistency you receive you also save a considerable amount of money. Once you have seen two or there doctors on your own, you will have incurred quite an expense. My service is the product of many years of experience and a unique understanding of the needs of patients. Some people have specific requests for a potential physician. Economic flexibility, geographic considerations, level of experience, even gender. There are so many wonderfully talented doctors in the Beverly Hills area. And I mean a lot. At least 200 to 300 board certified plastic surgeons in a radius of five to 20 miles (if not more). You don't have to pay top dollar to get top results! In the two years since the inception of my business, I have had only sparkling testimonials. For me, that validates the necessity for a service that provides these most important components.
I hope that you have taken away some valuable information. I am a patient advocate and always have been. With all the different doctors to choose from, all the different procedures that are available, and so much emphasis on who did what and when, there is a way to become educated, articulate and pro-active in your search for the very best doctor and the most optimum results.
Originally published in Cosmetic Surgery Magazine Issue 1 Page 80 & 81