Here, he reveals what to expect at that all-essential initial consultation…
- Have your photo taken. I always take photographs and patients are fully informed and give their consent for this. Photos are an essential part of the consultation and record keeping. I check the photos after consultation to double check the surgical plan is correct. It also serves as a record in case there are issues such as asymmetrical results and it’s vital to be able to see pre-op photos so be prepared!
- Have an honest conversation. Plastic surgery consultations can be very intimate and patients often feel very anxious and body conscious. In order to alleviate their anxiety, I talk to them honestly and frankly and put them at ease by reminding them that many thousands of people worldwide at that very moment are sitting in a plastic surgery offices just like they are – so there is really nothing to be embarrassed about! All patients talk through their embarrassment – it helps them to voice their feelings. I always encourage them to say exactly how they feel and what is it about their body they find embarrassing.
- Have a chaperone. This helps to relax patients and offer them a helping hand in getting changed, cover body parts. They also serve to provide an opinion on what might look appropriate for the patient. I will try as much as possible to preserve their dignity by acting on non verbal and verbal cues I get from them.
- Have your request rejected. Where appropriate, I will tell them surgery is needed – or not needed – and will offer guidance for them to see another health specialist, such as a clinical psychologist.
- Have it pointed out that you are NOT the ‘odd one out’. I often refer to common factual information and how everyone has subtle differences in their body such as one breast being larger than the other and that these differences are the norm! Patients always find it comforting to know that they are not the odd one out.
There is no doubt, however, that after surgery, patients come in with more confidence – if the surgery has gone well. This is the most enjoyable part of our job – to put that spring back into a patient’s step; no other job comes close.