It’s infuriating, but a lot of people heap needless guilt on a woman seeking a vaginoplasty, as though she’s attacking another person rather than taking control of her own body. As a result, when many women see a surgeon about a vaginoplasty, this guilt brings a lot of stress. That’s why I’m a complete believer in doing everything necessary for the patient before the procedure to make her feel relaxed and confident about herself. It’s essential that we provide these patients with a friendly, warm environment where they can feel okay about sharing their concerns with us.
This means, first of all, that I believe the plastic surgeon should make time to really talk with the patient. Don’t just rush her in and out, but engage her in conversation. I owe it to my patient to show her that she is more than dollar signs to me; she is an important person that I am there to serve.
I read on a news site recently about a New Jersey plastic surgeon who is my kind of doctor. He’s discovered that taking time to educate and involve his patients dramatically reduces the guilt and anxiety that they feel. Therefore, the doctor instructs his staff, when they take the initial phone call, to spend real time with the patient, finding out about her, her areas of concern, and establishing a bond with her. They even send the patient reading material about the procedure. Then on consultation day, the center’s coordinator meets her and greets her warmly, showing her DVDs about the procedure.
After this, the patients take part in a one-on-one consultation with the doctor. At this time, he discusses various options to address their concerns. He shows them before and after photos, and talks with the patient about what she should look like once the procedure is completed.
Then before the surgery itself, the patient meets with the nurse in charge of recovery so she can discuss what happens during recovery with her. Even after the surgery, the doctor and his staff follows the patient’s progress closely.
This is what it means for a plastic surgeon to be involved with his patients and to make them feel confident in what’s going to happen. It’s how I wish more of my colleagues would treat their patients. Not that they should follow his exact methods, but just imitate his passion about putting the patient’s concerns and needs first.