Definition and Overview

Face surgery consultation refers to an appointment with a surgeon specializing in either reconstructive or cosmetic procedures for the different parts of the face such as the hair and scalp, eyes, ears, cheeks, jaw, chin and neck.

Cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries fall under plastic surgery and although they share similarities, they are also vastly different. While cosmetic surgeries are intended to improve a person’s appearance, reconstructive surgery aims to restore the function of a certain body part. However, the line between the two is thin. For example, a blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) removes the fatty tissue of the eyelids, allowing the eyes to appear more prominent and bigger, but it can also be performed to improve eyesight.

Whether a patient needs a reconstructive or cosmetic surgery, only a board-certified surgeon can be consulted and eventually carry out the procedure. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons emphasizes that surgeons require adequate training, including at least four years in medical school, a year of residency and another year of fellowship for specialization. The requirements for board certification may differ.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

A face surgery consultation is necessary when there is a referral. This usually happens when the patient needs reconstructive surgery to improve the organ’s function. For instance, a maxillofacial surgery is necessary to correct bites or a septoplasty to correct a deviated septum or reduce signs and complications of sleep apnea.

It may also be performed when the patient wants to boost self-confidence. Factors such as aging, disease, or congenital defect may not only limit mobility or organ function but may also decrease self-confidence, which may lead to social anxiety and depression. Such consultation can be the first step to improving their facial appearance.

Other reasons for a consultation include:

  • Getting a second opinion, especially when the patient likes to have more options or alternatives to resolve the problem other than surgery
  • Determining a patient’s eligibility – not all people who like to undergo surgery will be allowed to do so. Pregnant women, people with preexisting conditions such as hypertension or a blood disorder, very young individuals, men and women who are considered overweight or obese, and those with poor mental assumption about facial surgery may be prohibited to undergo the procedure until their issue has been resolved.
  • Getting all information about facial surgery – During the facial surgery consultation, the patient is expected to know about the methods to be performed, the rest of the surgical team, costs, risks and complications and recovery time, among others.

How Does the Procedure Work?

A facial surgery may be urgent or not. It is considered urgent when the problem significantly affects the patient’s quality of life (e.g., he cannot eat or swallow). Otherwise, the patient schedules an appointment with a surgeon who works in either a clinic or a hospital setting. A staff member coordinates the consultation and reminds the patient when the day is nearing. He may also inform the patient of the things to bring to facilitate a smooth, quick and efficient meet up with the surgeon.

During the actual day of consultation, the patient fills out some forms handed by the staff. A nurse may perform the initial physical exam, such as blood pressure reading, weighing and temperature reading. He may also conduct a short interview covering the patient’s medical history. Medical records are expected to have been forwarded earlier to the surgeon’s team by the doctor who made the referral.

The surgeon then begins with an interview about the reason for the consultation, the objective of the patient for wanting to undergo surgery and concerns. He may expound more on the medical and family history of the patient and go over medical records.

The surgeon then proceeds to evaluate the patient’s face and takes pictures or videos of the different angles of the face and uses tools such as computer software for simulation models. The model may be adjusted according to the desired result of the patient or the recommendation of the surgeon.

The surgeon proceeds to discuss the actual procedure, cost and financing, complications of the surgery, follow-up, recovery and expected outcomes.

More than one consultation may be needed before surgery with each lasting for 30 minutes to an hour.

Possible Risks and Complications

It is possible that during consultations, expectations of both the patient and the surgeon may not be the same. This can create tension and may lead to a bad working relationship for the two, making the consultation a highly unsatisfactory process. The patient may seek more surgeries from others, both may not pursue follow-up care, or the surgery itself may not proceed at all.

Reference:

  • McGrath MH, Pomerantz J. Plastic surgery. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 69.
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