Preparing for Your Tummy Tuck Consultation

You probably did the initial research on tummy tuck procedure before you decided that it is right for you. The internet is full of information about abdominoplasty procedure and tummy tuck surgeons. You can get referrals, tips, warnings, support, and more on tummy tuck surgery just by logging on. Almost everything about choosing a plastic surgeon for tummy tuck can be done online, but eventually you have to get offline meet your abdominoplasty surgeon and visit his/her office.

The first meeting, which is called a tummy tuck consultation, is important. That first meeting, where you sit down and talk with an abdominoplasty surgeon is the time when you learn whether this is a person that you can deal with and who will take your concerns and wishes seriously.

You may go through only one consultation or you may meet with several tummy tuck surgeons before you make a decision. But each consultation is important. The consultation is when you learn and make a decision whether you want to trust your looks, health and life to this individual.

What to Do Before Your Consult

There are many steps you should take while searching for good tummy tuck surgeon's to consult with. Read the How to Choose a Great Tummy Tuck Surgeon section in its entirety so that you will know what to expect out of your surgeon as well as what to watch out for. That section has information on what makes a good surgeon and how to go about finding one. This section contains information you may find helpful in preparing for your consultation and interviewing prospective abdominoplasty surgeons.

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  • Do your homework about abdominoplasty and everything it involves. Be aware of all your options. There is a vast amount of information about tummy tuck available on the internet, as well as at your local library. You can also pick up free pamphlets at libraries and doctors' offices or send away for them.
  • Research the many tummy tuck techniques and the types and placement of incisions. This may take some time, but it is worth it.
  • Schedule a consultation with an abdominoplasty surgeon. Not all surgeons charge for a consultation. Prices vary from free to $500. Some tummy tuck surgeons offer a free consultation if you then have surgery with them, but stipulate that you will be charged if you choose not to have the surgery or go somewhere else. Please remember that the size of the consultation fee does not reflect upon the skill of the surgeon.
  • Speak to other people who have had tummy tuck surgery or are planning an abdominoplasty or abdominal liposuction. We have a tummy tuck forum full of people who have had the tummy tuck surgery and who enjoy talking about their experience.
  • Don't rely on tummy tuck before-and-after photos solely as a hallmark of a surgeon's talent. These photos can be retouched digitally or airbrushed, and only show the cream of the crop, in the first place. Make sure that the abdominoplasty before-and-after photos are of the surgeon's own patients. Some plastic surgeons have used stock photography to show what the tummy tuck procedure can do, and which do not show his or her work. Although this practice is frowned on, it isn't unheard of. Be sure to ask if the tummy tuck before-and-after photos you are shown are in fact that surgeon's work.
  • Before you meet with an abdominoplasty surgeon, sit down and discuss your wishes and concerns with your spouse or significant other or with close friends. They may have input or concerns you may not have thought of.

What to Bring to Your Tummy Tuck Consultation

  • Bring a list of questions you may have for the tummy tuck surgeon. You can print out the list of questions to ask the plastic surgeon we have, if you want. Write down any others you think of and bring them, too.
  • Before your tummy tuck consultation, compile a list of the medications you take, if any, and the dosages to bring with you. This list should include all the vitamin and mineral supplements and herbal products you take, as well as drugs or supplements you take only occasionally. Please tell your surgeon, and the anesthesiologist for the procedure, about every drug – over the counter, prescription or illegal – you take. This is for your own safety. Here is the list of medications to avoid before your tummy tuck surgery. The surgeon and his or her office staff must keep all information about you confidential.
  • You will also be asked about any allergies you have or if you have ever had a bad reaction to any medications or anesthesia or to latex.
  • Make up a list of any other surgeries you have had or major illnesses and when you had them, since you will be asked about these and it can be hard to remember dates sometimes. The surgeon will also ask you about the health of your parents and, if they are deceased, what they died of, so have this information handy, too.  
  • You might want to bring some old photos of yourself to show what you looked like or photos from magazines to help you convey to your surgeon how you wish to look after abdominoplasty or what your expectations are. But remember to be realistic in your expectations. You cannot present a photo of a fashion model and say, "Make me look like that." Abdominoplasty can make your stomach look flatter, it cannot give you a "six pack."

Questions to Ask Your Tummy Tuck Surgeon
First, I am not suggesting that you ask your plastic surgeon every single question listed here. These lists are provided to give you a general idea of what should be asked by you or told to you by your surgeon. The surgeon probably will answer many of these questions without your prompting. These lists are more like cue cards. You can just mark the questions you wish to address at your consultation.

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  1. How long have you been practicing as a plastic surgeon?
  2. What, if anything, was your medical specialty before you chose to practice plastic surgery?
  3. Are you board certified and by what medical board? If so, how long have you been certified?
  4. If you are not board certified plastic surgeon, why not?
  5. Have you ever been disciplined by the state medical board? If so, why?
  6. Have you ever had any medical malpractice suits that ended in the patient's favor? If so, how many?
  7. Do you currently carry medical malpractice insurance? If not, why not?
  8. Where will my tummy tuck surgery be performed? If the surgery will take place in a freestanding surgical center or in the surgeon's office, your operating room accredited? If so, by whom? May I see it?
  9. Do you have hospital privileges? At which hospitals? If not, did you lose those privileges?
  10. What is your favorite cosmetic plastic surgery procedure to perform and why?
  11. How many abdominoplasties have you performed?
  12. How many abdominoplasties do you perform yearly?
  13. How many revisions of your own work do you have to perform, and how often?
  14. May I speak with any of your patients who have had abdominoplasty by you?
  15. Can I see before-and-after photos of your patients?
  16. How extensive will my tummy tuck scars be and where will they be located?
  17. Do you have a videotape or DVD available of an abdominoplasty procedure that I may watch?
  18. Do you believe my goals can be met?
  19. Would there be any reason I would not be a good candidate for tummy tuck?
  20. How long will the tummy tuck surgery last and how long will I be under anesthesia?
  21. What are the complications for abdominoplasty?
  22. What kind of anesthesia do you use for abdominoplasty? Why?
  23. I have heard that general anesthesia can make some patients sick to their stomach. What can you do to lessen its effect?
  24. Who will administer my anesthesia?
  25. What would you do if I were to have a complication?
  26. What types of medications will I be given and which pain medications do you normally prescribe?
  27. What tips do you have for me to ease any discomfort and pain?
  28. Must I abide by any special diet, preoperatively and postoperatively?
  29. I take (Fill in the blank – birth control, diet pills, antidepressants, whatever) Will I have any adverse reactions from the prescribed medications or anesthesia?
  30. I have heard Arnica montana helps with the swelling and bruising if taken before and after my tummy tuck surgery. Do you recommend it? What about bromelain?
  31. If I need anything after normal office hours postoperatively, how will I be able to get in touch with you or your staff?
  32. If I have an emergency the night after abdominoplasty surgery, what should I do?
  33. If such an emergency arises, will you be the attending physician?
  34. How long do you recommend I take off from work, school, etc. to heal properly?
  35. When should I expect to look "normal" again?
  36. How long after tummy tuck surgery will I be able to walk, exercise, run or participate in contact sports?
  37. When will my sutures (stitches) be taken out?
  38. Will I have surgical drains?
  39. Do you recommend the use of scar gels, silicone sheeting or other remedies?
  40. If I develop an infection, "dog ears" or abnormal asymmetry, what is your policy on a revision? Who will pay for a second surgery?
  41. How much will my tummy tuck surgery cost, total?
  42. Are there any hidden costs that I should know about, such as for lab work, postoperative check-ups, additional medications, and postoperative garments?
  43. Do you offer abdominoplasty financing? Do you expect full payment up front? Can I pay in installments?
  44. What if I change my mind and back out or have to cancel the tummy tuck surgery for some other reason, will my money be refunded?
  45. Typically, how long do the results of an abdominoplasty last?

If you can think of any other questions or additional information you desire to know, ask. The consultation is your time to ask. Don't hesitate to ask or express your concerns.

Besides checking out the doctor, a consultation is a chance for you to check out the office and the office staff. Were you treated politely over the phone and in person? You should always feel that you were treated with respect.

Beware of any doctor who fails to listen to your concerns or who fails to bring the risks and complications of abdominoplasty to your attention. An abdominoplasty is serious surgery and must be treated as such. KNOW THE RISKS!

You should trust your instincts. At any time during the consultation, from the minute you walk in the door of the office to the minute you walk back out, keep your eyes open and your head clear. Sometimes, if you have a "bad feeling" about someone or something, there's a reason. If at any time you feel that this plastic surgeon might not be the right one for you, book a consultation with another surgeon.