Shared Decision Making In Plastic Surgery


Yes, the doctor knows best, but shared decision making in the surgery process could mean the difference between more risk and less downtime or vice versa. What kinds of questions should you be asking and why is shared decision making important? I caught up with Atlanta-based plastic surgeon Dr. Foad Nahai to find out.

Shared decision making in cosmetic medicine and aesthetic surgery is vital for many reasons. “Sharing the decision means the patient is aware of all options and their risks and benefits, so as to make an informed decision,” says Dr. Nahai.This way, the patient has input in the end result, so he or she gets results that are best for him or her.

In clinical practice, Dr. Nahai notes that the surgeon presents the alternatives discussing the benefits and risks of each. “Full discussion of expected results, risks, likely outcome, recovery, and cost ensue.”  There are many benefits to shared decision making in the surgery process. Dr. Nahai says that the patient may have limited time for recovery and may choose an option with shorter recovery. Or, “a patient may chose a procedure with less risk even it means a less optimal result or accept more risk longer recovery for a better result,” he explains. It all depends on timing and the patient’s needs.

Skipping a robust consultation denies the patient the opportunity to be involved in selecting the best procedure for his or her individual needs, Dr. Nahai says. As for key questions to ask, he lists the following as a jumping-off point to spark conversation. What are my options? Are there any non surgical options? Do the results, recovery risks and costs vary with each option? Are they all equivalent?

Don’t skimp on questions regarding aftercare, as well, specifically immediate and long-term care. Ask about “medications, wound care, and whether ice packs would be beneficial,” advises Dr. Nahai. Make sure to include inquires about levels of activity, bathing, and dietary restrictions, as well, he notes.

Last, of course, you could bring a friend, spouse, or family member in with you during your shared decision-making consultation with your doctor. Or, you can record your consultation with your surgeon on your phone or another recording device so you can remember all of the instructions and decisions. “This is the most accurate record of the discussions between the surgeon and patient,” Dr. Nahai says.

1 Comment Shared Decision Making In Plastic Surgery

  1. drvladmilovic

    I would agree with Dr Nahai. It is crucial that patients are given enough information, including risks, complications and expected recovery details, so that both surgeon and patient feel comfortable. Sometimes, this might mean that patients are advised to delay their surgery or not be operated at all. But it is a better option than to have an unhappy patient, and ultimately, surgeon too. I agree that having a robust consultation process (such as staged consultations) is important. Once the post-operative period commences, patients will be relying on the guidance of their surgeon to ensure a good recovery. So, whilst I understand that more patients appear to be searching for surgeons based on price, good communication between surgeon and patient is critical and is often established early on during the consultation phase. Good article!


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