One of the many wonderful things about plastic surgery is that there is rarely one way to approach or treat a problem. Plastic surgeons with different experiences, and sometimes different geographic locations and cultural backgrounds, may treat certain cosmetic and reconstructive concerns differently. For this reason, patients considering plastic surgery often get second opinions. In my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice, I find second opinions to be very valuable and encourage all of my patients to do so particularly when they have uncertainties or have difficult issues.
I have seen a lot of patients who come in for second opinions. Based on that experience, I can give a few words of insight on how a patient should seek and approach these additional consultations. I preface my thoughts without losing sight of the overall goal…to get the best information possible so you can make the most educated decision.
When calling a plastic surgeon’s office to schedule a consultation, I would not tell them that this is a second opinion. There certainly is nothing wrong with getting a second, third, or fourth opinion. That is your right and your time and money. But you want to approach each consultation as if it was a new one. Approach each plastic surgeon as if they were the first one you have been to. Do not prejudice someone’s thoughts and recommendations knowing that they are being measured and compared to what someone else said. You want an unbiased opinion.
While in secondary consultations, do not engage in a discussion of what the other plastic surgeon said and ask what he or she thinks about their recommendations. This is particularly important when the recommendations are different. Personalities, ego, and professional jealousies can all enter into what is subsequently said. You are unlikely to separate out the facts from the emotion in this scenario. Ask specifically why those recommendations are best and what the downsides are. If you know other recommendations that may be different, ask about it and preface it that you have read or heard about these other options. Listen and take notes. You will need these to sit down and compare consultations later.
In cosmetic plastic surgery, the cost of the procedure is important. And that is definitely one factor in making a final decision. Never…and I repeat never…make a consultation with the reference that you are shopping around for the best price. Or mention your shopping mission during the consultation. This does not sit well with most plastic surgeons and casts a negative overtone to the whole consultation. This is not the time to begin price discussions. Get the plastic surgeons recommendations and get their price quote. After you have done all your consultations, the consideration of price can then be undertaken with all the other factors. Price bartering, unlike some retail industries, does not usually work well in plastic surgery. It is not that it is inappropriate, it is just that it is not that effective. If everything else is equal and plastic surgeons have different prices, then go with the lower price. If there is one plastic surgeon that you really like but their price is higher….there may be a good reason.
Make the best of additional opinions in plastic surgery by approaching each one as if it was the first. Ask the same questions and listen. The issue of cost should be but one of the final determinants in your decision.