Virtual consultations are now mainstream and they are here to stay, even as in-person appointments become available once again. When it comes to plastic surgery, what exactly does a virtual consultation entail? Do you actually have to disrobe to talk about breast augmentation? And if so, is that secure and safe? What about discussing your health history? Whether you’re considering Botox or a breast augmentation or anything in between, we have answers. While different facilities may have different virtual consultation practices, we spoke to Dr. Don Griffin of Nashville Cosmetic Surgery to get an idea of what the process looks like at his office, why you should feel empowered to pursue a virtual consultation and what to expect when you do.
What happens during a virtual consultation?
At Nashville Cosmetic Surgery, a virtual consultation serves as a first step in the surgical procedure process and potentially alleviates the need for multiple visits. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a chance to assess whether or not you like a surgeon’s demeanor and philosophy, to decide if the approach and recommendations are something you feel comfortable with, and to make sure you have clear expectations and explanations of your surgery or treatment. “Consider your virtual consultation to be the first step in the process,” explains Dr. Griffin. “Use the virtual consult to decide if you like the surgeon and if what he is recommending for you is clearly explained and something you feel good about.”
A virtual consultation is also an excellent time to get general information about not only the procedure but the physician as well. What are your surgeon’s qualifications? Is the doctor board-certified, and is the facility accredited? How many procedures has he or she completed? In terms of the surgery, be sure to ask about the expected recovery time and how the surgery will impact your lifestyle as you heal. And get surgery-specific details such as what type of implant will be used and where it will be placed.
So, what’s the first thing that happens when you decide to move forward with scheduling your virtual meeting? At Nashville Cosmetic Surgery, a patient care coordinator follows up with the patient to discuss the treatment being considered as well as the timeframe, concerns and cost. Once you’ve scheduled your consultation, they’ll send you a link to a secure patient portal, where you can enter your medical information and have the opportunity to send photos if you’re so inclined.
Is a virtual consultation safe and confidential?
Some procedures don’t require having to undress at all. However, for certain procedures such as breast augmentation, disrobing may be necessary to assess the work being done. In many cases, if you plan to follow up with an in-person appointment, that exam can wait. But that brings up the confidentiality of disrobing during a virtual consultation. “Especially if it’s a new patient who hasn’t met us yet, they may not be comfortable disrobing in front of their computer,” says Dr. Griffin. However, Nashville Cosmetic Surgery uses Doxy, a HIPPA-compliant platform that doesn’t store any communication, to ensure the consultation is safe and secure. Also, a clinical staff member is always present with the doctor for exams, whether in person or virtually. Lastly, if it increases your comfort level, you are welcome to have a trusted friend or family member present as well. It’s important to remember: Virtual consultations are an option, not an obligation.
The Bottom Line
Admittedly, a virtual consult has its limitations, namely that it can’t replace an in-person visit. “As good as virtual consultations are,” explains Dr. Griffin, “there are some things that can only be evaluated in person, and there are some things that just don’t show up well virtually.” If you’re looking to have a facelift, for example, the screen makes it difficult to assess certain qualities, such as your skin’s integrity, looseness and underlying structural support. But a virtual consultation has its merits, too. While it may only be an initial stepping stone, it’s a chance to start your investigative process, find out what to expect from an upcoming surgery, learn the current CDC guidelines for your next in-office visit, and put you a step closer to your surgery or treatment. “Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to make the best-informed decision regarding your body and skin,” says Dr. Griffin.
If you’d like to schedule a virtual consultation with Nashville Cosmetic Surgery, click HERE.
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