When you are having plastic surgery here in Birmingham, you should be seeing your surgeon before, during, and after your procedure. We repeat: you should be seeing your surgeon. Not a nurse, specialist, or other staff member. There are several practices where patients will see their surgeon during a portion of their consultation process, the morning of the procedure, and that may be it. Oftentimes, patients will be seen by the surgeon once or twice post-operatively as well.
Both cosmetic and plastic surgery practices in Birmingham may also have nurses or other assistants participate in patient care. After surgery, they may be the only ones seeing patients. Additionally, some surgeons have residents and fellows who are in a learning phase, taking care of patients. These residents frequently operate on patients, and in breast augmentation, they may operate on one breast while your surgeon operates on the other. However, patients will never know this, unless they are at a university or teaching institution. Nurses, assistants, or residents sometimes will take evening or weekend call and even see patients instead of the surgeon.
Michael S. Beckenstein, M.D., a Birmingham, Alabama, plastic surgeon was asked about this and he said, “Patients must ask their surgeon up front who will be taking care of them before, during, and after surgery. They should ask, ‘Who will be operating on me, and who will see me if there are any problems?’ Patients need to know this so they are comfortable with their surgeon.”
He added, “I know of one practice here where there is no one to take calls, and patients are directed to go to an emergency room if they think there is a problem. I received a call from a surgeon in Mississippi, who had a patient calling him with a problem. He asked me how he could locate the cosmetic surgeon to discuss this issue, and I could not assist him. This patient did not know about this scenario before her procedure, but she should have!”
Dr. Beckenstein reiterated, “Except for rare circumstances, I take care of each of my patients personally. I see them in the hospital, office, and am always available to speak with them, even when I am away from the office. I am a stickler for being there for my patients. If you operate on people, they want to see their surgeon. Period.”