Whether you are planning a breast enlargement or have just been told you have breast cancer, you need to know what questions to ask your breast surgeon. Forgetting to ask or not thinking about it beforehand can lead to needless worry later. This insider article will help you prepare by giving you 5 questions you should always ask your surgeon!
1. What does the operation involve?
Seems simple, huh? But time and again we hear of ladies who wake up after surgery and weren’t expecting something. Maybe the scar wasn’t where you thought it would be or you weren’t expecting a drain tube coming out of the wound. Either way, forewarned is forearmed! A good surgeon will tell you what to expect on the day, how long you will be staying in for and what you will find when you wake up. Most of our surgery is ‘day case’ which means you go home the same day- normally in the evening. Sometimes bigger operations (such as a mastectomy or a reconstruction) will mean an overnight stay and a drain. But then normally patients go home the next day after the drain has been removed.
2. How many of these have you done?
Another straightforward question. By the time they are fully trained, a consultant surgeon in the UK will have performed thousands of procedures. Sometimes your surgeon thinks you might benefit from a new technique or approach to surgery. If so they should be totally open and honest with you about their experience with this.
3. How long will it take to recover?
Recovering from surgery is an individual journey. There can be lots of variation- what knocks someone flat for a week might have you bouncing out of bed! Even so, your surgeon will be able to tell you the usual time to recovery. Questions to ask your breast surgeon include: When can I drive again? When can I go back to work? When can I exercise?
4. Is there an alternative to this surgery?
This is a really important part of giving consent for an operation, and an excellent question to ask your breast surgeon. A breast enlargement procedure might be done with implants, but alternatives include fat transfer augmentation. Also you may wish to use bra-fillers and avoid surgery altogether. Cancer is another area where there may be alternatives- including chemotherapy before surgery or anti-hormone therapy when suitable. Great surgeons enjoy being challenged and asked questions!
5. How do I get help if I need it after the operation?
You should always be given a point of contact after surgery. If something doesn’t feel or look right it needs checked. It is totally normal to feel abnormal (!) after surgery, but sometimes a bit of reassurance is all that is required. Occasionally, something more serious might go wrong and you need to be able to speak to the right person to make sure it doesn’t get worse, and can be put right. Careful surgeons will make sure you have a telephone number for a breast care nurse or another member of the team in case you need it.