Getting the Most from Your Consultation
“Successful cosmetic surgery begins with thorough consultation” says Mr Henley.
It is an opportunity to discuss your interests in cosmetic surgery and to describe the results you are looking for. Bring someone along with you if you like – maybe a partner or friend.
When you first meet Mr Henley, there is usually a nurse with him too. The nurse is available to offer you additional support and advice both before and after any planned procedure.
Before discussing any surgery, Mr Henley will want to ask about your general health and past medical history, such as previous illnesses or operations, allergies, drugs you are taking and whether or not you smoke. You should also be prepared to talk about how much alcohol you drink and any use of recreational drugs such as cocaine or cannabis. Mr Henley says:
“You might be undergoing treatment for a medical problem at the moment. It would be important to get those sorts of things under control first before going ahead with any surgery. No unnecessary risks should ever be taken with cosmetic operations.”
Know the medications you are taking, including the dosage and frequency that you take it. It is important to know any drugs that you take including the contraceptive pill, hormone replacement therapy, prescription and over the counter medicines. Save time during your consultation by having this information available with you.
Mr Henley will ask you to describe what features you particularly like and dislike and will want you to have an idea about the results you wish to achieve from any proposed procedure. He will also listen to your reasons for considering surgery to check that your expectations are realistic.
A physical examination of the part of the body to be operated on will take place next. It does depend on the type of operation, but it is important for Mr Henley to assess things like your skin; is there too much or too little skin and if so, where and how much, skin colour, elasticity, fat distribution and body shape, just to give a few examples. He may also need to take some measurements. Digital photographs may also be taken of you standing at different angles, eg facing to the front, facing to the side etc to help with the next part of the consultation.
The timing of the operation, should you choose to go ahead, is extremely important too. For example, you may have decided that you want to lose some weight first. Let Mr Henley know if you are planning to do this. For certain operations, eg breast reduction, losing lots of weight after the operation can undo all the good work that went on before. Surgery would be much better postponed until you had achieved your target weight. Remember too, an operation, particularly a major one, is physically and emotionally stressful. Mr Henley will need to ask you some personal questions about work, home-life and your relationships. This is to ensure that any proposed surgery does not take place when you are either particularly busy or going through emotional upheaval. It’s important to speak the truth and be honest with yourself.
“Saying things are fine when clearly they are not can lead to difficulties later on down the track”, cautions Mr Henley.
Details about the operation itself, along with the type of anaesthetic needed will be provided. You will also be given information about the recovery period, including any restrictions on activities and work schedules that may apply. Mr Henley will also want to review the risks and limitations associated with the surgical procedure with you. A reputable plastic surgeon will always do this.
Before leaving, make sure that you have had all your initial questions answered. You might like to prepare a list of questions to take along with you. The Royal College of Surgeons has produced a checklist that suggests questions you might want to ask. To view this, click here for more.
Following your meeting, Mr Henley will write to you (and with your agreement send a copy letter to your General Practitioner) outlining in detail any proposed procedure(s), along with the associated risks. This is to give you the opportunity to digest the information given to you at the time of your consultation. It also means that you don’t have to try and remember it all too! A price guide for the operation/treatment will be included.
If you decide to proceed, you will be asked to get in touch with Mr Henley’s secretary to organise a suitable date for surgery. A further consultation will be arranged for you to see Mr Henley a week or two before your operation is scheduled.
Be sure that you are comfortable with any decision you make. Remember to take your time – decisions regarding cosmetic surgery should never be rushed.