Member Blog: Breast Surgery – The second chat is just as important as the first. by Dr Marion Chan
Whether you are contemplating breast surgery for cancer reconstruction or purely cosmetic reasons, this can be one of the most important decisions you make for your own body. Surgery can be a daunting process for many people.
The world is forever a changing place of information. Before thinking about making your first appointment with your surgeon, no doubt you have thought about having surgery, and have researched it – these days it is common to have consulted close family and friends, along with searching the internet for extra information, before and after photos, just to say the least. How trustworthy is the information out there? How do I know if my friend’s surgical experience is applicable or relatable to me?
When a patient sees me for the first time, I always ensure they leave with a thorough understanding of:
- What their presenting complaints and concerns are
- What treatment options are available to address their concerns
- The advantages and disadvantages with each of those options
- The risks and complications of the surgical procedure in question, along with recovery and expected short term outcome
- The long term expected outcome, and potential need for revision surgery
Believe it or not, there may be multiple ways to solve the same problem. More often, your own personal preference, medical and social circumstances, values and wishes may all influence which option might be better for you than others. More importantly, sometimes what you think you need may not solve your concerns, and it is my job as your surgeon to point out the potential obstacles with your initial choice, how I might overcome or prevent those hurdles, or better still, suggest an alternative option.
A perfect example is a young lady in her thirties who comes in requesting a breast augmentation. The key to ensuring that a patient has the correct procedure, is to address their concerns thoroughly. In this patient’s case, her main concerns were sagginess, loose skin and deflation after having children some time ago, and more importantly – when the implications of using an implant was discussed, she clearly did not like the thought of needing to maintain her implants for the next few decades of her life. She was however, under the impression that implants were what she required to “lift” her breasts back into a more youthful position – which is true, to an extent. However, the excess amount of loose skin meant she actually needed a lift at the same time, where an implant alone would not be sufficient to give her the result she wanted.
So here we are, a patient who now wants to book in for a different procedure than what she thought she needed in the first place. With all of these bits of information and explanation written down on paper in her hand, all of it seems so plausible and sensible when she walks out of my practice and heads home.
Then the uncertainty begins – the huge amount of information struggles to sink in. You start to question your decision making process, and you may even forget bits and pieces of the consultation despite having it written down on paper. Your immediate family wants to hear all about what was discussed during the consultation and you aren’t even sure where to begin because it was over an hour of information overload. You may even be so surprised with new bits of information that you are contemplating a second opinion from another surgeon just to be sure – which is very normal and is also a great idea.
No matter how certain my patients are that they are “good to go” with their surgery after their first consultation, most will have burning questions to ask, things they want reassurance about, and therefore they come in for a second consultation. You may decide to bring a family member along for support if you did not get the chance to initially, or get a friend to help look after your toddler so you have another chance to be fully engaged because you were distracted the first time. During the second consultation, we repeat your implant sizing for breast augmentation to make sure you have not changed your mind. We re-discuss your options in case you forgot the rationale behind your choice. I measure twice to cross check we have ordered the correct devices. All these are reasons why your second consultation is just as important as your first.
Your Specialist Plastic Surgeon and their team can help you through your entire plastic surgery journey so please reach out to them if you do happen to have any questions or concerns.
Written by Dr Marion Chan FRACS