After months, if not years of looking at yourself in the mirror and tugging on that stubborn pocket of fat, or pulling back loose folds of skin, you may finally feel ready to take the plunge into the world of aesthetic plastic surgery. Mary Cunningham of Smart Beauty Guide spoke with Dr. Michael Edwards, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, for insight on how to prepare for not only the physical and tactical aspects of any surgical procedure, but the mental and emotional aspects as well.
PHYSICAL PREPARATION Mary: What are some lifestyle factors that can impair a patient’s body’s ability to heal after surgery? Dr. Edwards: Before surgery we ask patients to look at some factors that might cause the healing time to be slower such as their weight or any weight fluctuations, their nutritional habits, drugs or vitamin supplements they might be taking, exercise frequency, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, sun exposure, sleep patterns and their overall stress level. Each of these can play a significant role in a patient’s ability to heal. Of course, the goal is for all patients to heal as quickly as possible and with as little discomfort as possible, so the more honest and upfront a patient is with us right out of the gate, the more prepared we are to help them make that happen. Mary: What do patients need to know before undergoing their procedure? Dr. Edwards: The next step in preparing for surgery is for the patient to have a thorough understanding of the full scope of the procedure they are undergoing, including the recovery time, which may be days, weeks, or months long, depending on the specific type of surgery. Patients need to prepare for their surgery mentally by discussing their expectations with their doctor to confirm that they have a realistic understanding of the anticipated outcome along with the recovery period. They also need to be sure that they have enough time off of work, (if necessary depending on the nature of the procedure), and someone to help them if they need assistance with anything immediately following surgery. Mary: How crucial is it for patients to inform their surgeons of their medical history and any past procedures? Dr. Edwards: Just as we ask all of our patients to be upfront about their overall lifestyle and habits, it is equally as important for the patient to inform their surgeon of their full medical history so that we can provide them with accurate and detailed information about the risks associated with a particular procedure that may or may not be impacted by a certain patient’s medical and surgical history. The consult before the surgery is the right time for the patient to address any questions they may have and to get a very clear understanding of what to expect, including a detailed recovery timeline and a breakdown of associated risks. At this time, the patient should also confirm their doctor’s credentials, their hospital privileges, and the accreditation of the location where they will receive the treatment.
CREDENTIALS Mary: What are the certifications or credentials patients should look for before choosing a surgeon? Dr. Edwards: Patients should look for certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada. If they are members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), they are even further qualified, through additional education and experience in aesthetic surgery which are required for membership.
CONSIDER THE SETTING Mary: How important is the location where the procedure will be performed? Dr. Edwards: If a surgical procedure is taking place outside of a hospital, patients should confirm that the facility is state-licensed and has accreditation with the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care or the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. All Aesthetic Society members must operate in accredited facilities. FOLLOW UP CARE Mary: After the procedure, what follow up care should a patient be aware of? Dr. Edwards: Depending on the complexity of the procedure, a patient may need to have someone escort them home, if they are not staying at the surgical center or hospital overnight. Various procedures require varied drug protocols, office visits and at home self-care. To help plan your follow up care, click here for the recovery times of the five most popular procedures. (link to Smart Beauty Guide page)