Dr. Kirby's Blog

Why You Should Plan Early for Your Plastic Surgery

March 8, 2017 by

woman in glasses reading on porch

We live in a “fast food” society. From streaming favorite shows on demand, to having Uber whisk us away any time of day, to having our pre-ordered Starbucks waiting on the counter when we walk in, we are used to getting what we want, when we want it.

It is understandable, then, that if you have decided to have plastic surgery, you want it now! However, remember that this is surgery—and surgery is a big deal. A lot goes into ensuring that you have a safe procedure with results you love.

Our advice? If great results are your goal, do not rush the process. Start planning your cosmetic procedure with the expectation that getting in with a great doctor (and linking their availability with your own schedule) may take a few months.

To help you better understand when to plan your plastic surgery, consider the following steps in the process. As you read, keep in mind that each patient’s experience is a little different, and your own timeline might go more quickly or slowly.

Time to research plastic surgeons (1 to 2 weeks)

You may need several days or weeks to research and finalize a list of surgeons with whom you want to consult. Why? Not all plastic surgeons are created equal and doctors have varying areas of expertise. In fact, there are no laws preventing any doctor from performing cosmetic surgery, even if they have zero training in this area. Thus you will first want to make sure any plastic surgeon you see is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Next, consider the surgeon’s specific experience and areas of specialization. For instance, you would not want to choose a surgeon who only performs rhinoplasty for your breast lift, so be sure any doctor you are considering regularly performs the procedures you desire.

To get a surgery date that works best for you, start planning your cosmetic procedure as early as possible, with the expectation that the process may take a few months.

Time to get in for a consultation (up to 6 weeks)

Talented, reputable surgeons are typically quite busy, and it may be several weeks from the time you call before a consultation appointment is available. Be patient—it will be worth the wait. You should get a lot of value out of an in-depth consultation with a knowledgeable surgeon. If you are meeting with multiple sought-after surgeons, this time frame could expand. Be sure to ask if there is a cancellation list so you may get called in earlier.

Time between your consultation and your surgery date (4 to 10 weeks)

Again, a highly rated plastic surgeon is likely to be booked for weeks or even months ahead. If you consult with several plastic surgeons, resist any temptation to choose whomever is available more quickly. Instead, make sure the plastic surgeon you pick is the one who is most qualified to perform the procedures you want. It is worth waiting a few more weeks to get results you will love for years to come.

If you smoke, you will need to build in some extra time. You must quit smoking at least 6 weeks before you will be allowed to have your procedure—nicotine use impairs healing, which will put both your health and results at risk.

You may be disappointed initially to have to wait to have surgery, but this can actually be a good thing! It means you will have plenty of time to prepare for surgery and recovery without feeling rushed. For example, you can use this time to:

  • Confirm a trusted adult to be your designated driver on surgery day
  • Request time off of work
  • Arrange for childcare
  • Prep and freeze easy-to-fix meals for you and your family

Time to recover after surgery (1 to 2 weeks off, plus a few months before you will be “photo ready”)

Your plastic surgery recovery timeframe will depend on your procedure, your individual healing rate, and how closely you follow your plastic surgeon’s instructions. While every case is different, the following ball-park timelines give an idea of what you might expect:

  • Breast Augmentation: back to “normal” (i.e. desk job, driving, eating out) in 5 to 7 days, back to strenuous exercise in about 4 weeks, results look great around 3 months post-op
  • Facelift: back to “normal” in 2 weeks, back to strenuous exercise in 4 weeks, party-ready in about 12 weeks
  • Tummy Tuck: back to “normal” in about 2 weeks, back to strenuous exercise in 6 weeks, bikini-ready in 3 to 4 months
  • Liposuction: back to “normal” in 3 to 7 days, back to strenuous exercise in 4 weeks, beach-ready in 3 to 4 months, results final in about 6 to 8 months

If you want to look great for a special occasion, consider that date—and your specific goal—when scheduling surgery to allow plenty of time to be adequately recovered.

One common mistake we see patients make is to try to schedule surgery during pre-planned time off, such as spring break, forgetting about the fact that surgery takes one day, but recovery takes several. If possible, it is better to have your surgery right before a scheduled break, and use the break to recover.

One last tip: include your support crew in your timing plan

You should only have plastic surgery for yourself, but you can not get it done by yourself. You will need someone to devote a few days of his or her time to drive you to and from your surgery and to look after you for the first 24 hours. After that, you are likely to need extra help around the house for about 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the procedure you are having. It is best to check with the people you would like on your support team before you schedule surgery to make sure they will be available when you need them.

We hope this guide has been helpful. If you are looking for a plastic surgeon in Fort Worth, we invite you to contact us for a consultation with board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Emily Kirby. Even if we cannot get you in right away, we think you will agree that her extensive, informative consultations are worth the wait.

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