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What to Expect: Your Cosmetic Surgery Consultation

By: Candice Powers


Consultations are a combination of an interview, learning experience and opportunity to explore the possibilities of cosmetic surgery. It’s a two-way dialogue that will allow you to walk away knowing if cosmetic surgery is right for you, and if so, appropriate procedure options and the surgeon you want to perform the procedure(s).

The best way to make an educated decision is to schedule a consultation to meet with a plastic surgeon and their staff. Here is a basic rundown of what to expect during a cosmetic surgery consultation.

What to Expect

One of the best ways to decide if cosmetic surgery is right for you is by meeting with a reputable and qualified cosmetic or plastic surgeon. During the consultation, you will discuss goals and expectations, as well as:

  • Review medical history (including current and past medications)
  • Address your areas of concern and discuss desired results
  • Surgery recommendations and reasonable expectations
  • Answer any additional questions you might have
  • A customized price quote and financing options

Arriving at the Office

Upon arrival to the physician’s office, you will be greeted by a Patient Services Administrator and asked to fill out new patient forms detailing your demographic information and health history. If provided ahead of time, take advantage of completing the patient forms beforehand and bring them with you to your appointment. Otherwise, patients are advised to arrive 30 minutes early to complete them in the lobby before being seen for their consultation.

It is important to be honest and thorough when completing these forms, as the information you provide helps prevent complications. When asked about medications, be sure to include any vitamins or herbal supplements, as these can affect your blood pressure and clotting ability. Honesty regarding tobacco and alcohol use is also critical, as this can have a profound impact on recovery and incision healing.

Meeting the Patient Consultant

When you are called back for your appointment, you will first meet with a patient consultant, who will serve as your confidante and liaison with the practice.

Their role is to address any questions you might have when considering your options, from your consultation and throughout the surgery and recovery process. Your patient coordinator will also help with scheduling your pre-op appointment as well as your surgery date.

Meeting the Plastic Surgeon

Now it’s time to meet the plastic surgeon. When visiting a multi-surgeon practice, confirm beforehand that you are meeting with the doctor who would be performing your procedure. Expect to talk about:

  • What you want to change about your body, and why you want to change it
  • How you feel about your body now, and how you would like to feel after surgery
  • Desired results such as what you want to look like and specific changes you want to see
  • Which procedure(s), if any, are best for achieving your desired results
  • Realistic expectations and results you can expect with each procedure
  • What’s involved in the surgery such as anesthesia type, incisions, and recovery
  • Potential risks and complications that can occur with the procedure
  • Review of medical history (for your safety, be open and honest)

What to Look For

It is important to be informed and prepared beforehand to get the most out of your consultation. Take advantage of the opportunity for face-to-face dialogue to develop an emotional connection with the surgeon and learn about their credentials and experience.

Below are some suggestions for additional topics to discuss at your consultation:

Verify the physician’s credentials.

  • You’re looking for a surgeon that is credentialed by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), which signifies the knowledge, skill, and experience required to provide quality patient care and results.

Operating at an accredited surgical facility.

  • Most plastic surgery procedures are elective and performed on an outpatient basis, but in the case of an emergency, you want to be confident that you will receive appropriate care. The Austin-Weston Center is an accredited surgical facility equipped with five operating rooms and overnight accommodations for out of town patients.

Ask for before-and-after photos of their work.

  • Most practices have a before-and-after gallery on their website with examples of their work allowing you to select a surgeon based on the results you find appealing.

Experience with your procedure of interest.

  • How long have they been performing this procedure? How many? Are they using the latest techniques? Do they have specialized training? In general, the more experienced a surgeon is with the procedure, the better the results.

Address any unanswered questions about surgery.

  • Have you been informed of possible risks, side effects and recovery time associated with surgery? Obtain as much information as you can about the procedure, address any questions and expectations and carefully evaluate your options before proceeding.

Examine Your Areas of Concern

You will remain dressed for most of the consultation. Following your initial discussion, if your area of concern involves the breasts or body, you will be asked to change into a gown so the surgeon can examine the area under the supervision of a patient consultant. An exam may involve taking measurements of your body, but never any bloodwork.

To ensure patients do not feel pressured to move forward, at Austin-Weston we wait to take the ‘before’ photos until your pre-op appointment, once a date for surgery is scheduled.

Pricing and Financing Options

After discussing your options with the surgeon, you will receive a detailed price quote for the procedure and your specific needs. Verify that your customized quote gives an exact cost (not an estimate) and any additional fees are all-inclusive:

  • Surgeon’s fees
  • Anesthesia fees
  • Operating facility fees
  • Breast implants or surgical garments
  • Post-op appointments and questions

Confirm how long the price quote is valid and when it expires. Most surgeons allow a few months, so you have plenty of time to consider your options. Take this time to discuss payment and financing options and if you’re confident in your decision to move forward, pay the deposit for your surgery.

Understanding Next Steps

Before leaving your consultation, make sure you are clear on what the next steps are. If you are ready to schedule your surgery by the end of your appointment, that’s great! But don’t feel obligated or pressured to decide on the spot.

Sometimes it takes more than a single consultation, and often patients are still on the fence when they leave. If that’s the case, call and schedule another consultation. Ultimately, being knowledgeable about the procedure will allow you to be confident in your decision selecting a surgeon you trust.

When searching for Dr. Right, it takes time, dedication and research to prepare you for the world of cosmetic surgery but in the end, always trust your instincts. When you find the perfect combination – surgeon, procedure, timing, and cost – you will know.

If you live in the Northern Virginia and DC Metro area, or are willing to travel, click the link below or call 703.893.6168 to schedule a consultation with one of Austin-Weston’s plastic surgeons. Our staff will be happy to find a time that is convenient for you and answer any additional questions you might have.


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