The initial consultation you have with your rhinoplasty surgeon is such a crucial part of the entire process. In fact, it can significantly impact the outcome of the operation itself. If you are planning to undergo rhinoplasty, chances are you spend most of your time thinking about the results and the nose you’ve always wanted. However, it’s equally important to think about how to get to the results you want, and it all begins with the consultation.
When I look back on my rhinoplasty journey and the dozens of consultations I’ve had with surgeons, it becomes even clearer that not all rhinoplasty surgeons are the same. Your meeting with your surgeon should not be your typical doctor consultation where the surgeon speaks and the patient quietly listens. Instead, it should be a two-way street where both parties are free to talk and listen. Your surgeon should be able to impart his expert knowledge and advice. At the same time, you should also be able to voice out your hopes, wants, concerns and worries while your surgeon listens. You can be sitting down with the most skilled plastic surgeon in the world but you still won’t get the results you want if he is not able to listen and understand what you have to say. This is something I have had to learn the hard way. My rhinoplasty journey began in 2007 and since then, I have undergone two surgeries under two different doctors. Both surgeons were double-certified in Facial Plastic Surgery and ENT and both had very impressive credentials and experience. And yet, the treatment I received from them was as different as night and day.
With my first rhinoplasty surgeon, every consultation felt rushed, as if the surgeon had more important things that he needed to get to. He also did most of the talking while I sat there and listened to his goals and plans. Looking back, I realize now that I was just another paying customer to him and that the less time he spends with me, the more money he can earn by seeing many more patients. On the other hand, my consultation with Dr. Anil Shah was the complete opposite. He made me feel like I was his only patient and we had a long and unhurried conversation about what I want. He also offered candid and professional advice along the way. The fantastic consultation led to a fantastic outcome. In another post, I shared my consultation with Dr. Shah in more detail—from the preparation before the consultation itself, right up the very end where I booked my pre-op appointment.
Having learned things the hard way, I’d like to help you make the most of your rhinoplasty consultations and use them to gauge or predict how successful the outcome will be. In addition to the amount of time and level of listening that your surgeon offers you, here are 15 standard questions that you should be sure to ask a potential rhinoplasty surgeon.
1. Are you board certified and if so, by what certification boards? (Be sure to select a surgeon that is a member of both ABFPRS and ABOto).
2. How experienced are you in performing rhinoplasties? (i.e. How many rhinoplasties have you done in the span of your career and how many operations do you perform per year? Make sure you see a doctor who does hundreds of rhinoplasties a year and has been practicing for several years).
3. What percentage of your practice is devoted to rhinoplasty? (Stay away from surgeons who specialize in another discipline and who just occasionally dabble in rhinoplasty.)
4. When did you perform your last rhinoplasty?
5. What is the percentage of satisfaction among all your patients? In short, how many of them are happy with their results?
6. What is your policy on revisions in case I am unhappy with the outcome?
7. What is your revision rate on your own patients?
8. How long do you spend performing a rhinoplasty like mine?
9. What are potential complications and risks for the surgery to get the results I want?
10. What type of rhinoplasty technique will you use for me?
11. What type of anesthesia do you use and why?
12. What percentage of your practice is open versus closed rhinoplasty? Can you use both techniques?
13. Can I see pictures of before and after cases of noses similar to mine?
14. Do you feel that you can create the type of nose that I have talked with you about?
15. Do you offer computer imaging? (A doctor and patient should have a “meeting of minds” as to what is to be accomplished. With the ” before” and predicted ” after” images in front of everyone’s eyes, communication is more clear and meaningful).
During the consultation, be sure to use this checklist as a guide. Of course, don’t neglect the basic factors such as the surgeon’s education, training, experience, expertise and philosophy when it comes to rhinoplasty procedures. Make sure the surgeon is also driven by passion for the work and not by money. One good way to be able to tell is his willingness to answer your questions and understand your objectives and worries. A profit-driven surgeon will likely hurry things up.
Last but not the least, trust your instincts. This is something that I failed to do with my first surgeon and the outcome turned out to be very disappointing. I was feeling rushed and I felt like the surgeon did not take the time to understand what I wanted. On the contrary, my consultation with Dr. Anil Shah for my revision rhinoplasty made me feel 110% confident in his abilities. More importantly, he encouraged me to take my time in talking about my feelings and thoughts about my primary surgery and what I wanted for my revision rhinoplasty. My gut told me Dr. Anil Shah was meant to be my revision rhinoplasty surgeon, and as it turns out, I was right! I could not be happier with my rhinoplasty outcome.