Here are some things to consider doing. Some items may not be applicable to you.


  • Ask your primary care (e.g., regular) doctor to recommend a specialist
  • Get referrals from family, friends and/or associates
  • Be aware that operating rooms in hospitals are almost always required to meet more stringent requirements than those in doctors’ offices
  • Try to find a doctor who is affiliated with a hospital even if the surgery would take place in the doctor’s office
  • Check the experience of the surgeon(s) and hospital with your type of surgery
  • Check the morbidity rate of the surgeon(s) and hospital
  • Learn about the potential risks and benefits so you can ask good questions
  • Be aware that even elective surgery can be risky, especially if it requires general anesthesia
  • Determine whether the primary surgeon will be present for the entire operation
  • Determine whether unlicensed surgical assistants will be performing any portions of the surgery
  • Consider giving and storing some of your blood for possible use during your surgery to avoid the risk of receiving contaminated blood
  • Ask about receiving protective antibiotics before surgery to help prevent an infection
  • Ask your doctor about taking painkillers before the surgery may result in less pain after surgery
  • If appropriate and feasible, request that a hologram be developed of the area to be operated on (using CAT scan/MRI data) for the surgical team to review before operating
  • Ask where incisions will be made
  • Ask what restrictions you could experience in your activities after surgery to determine what kind of assistance you might require and to help decide if and when to have the surgery
  • Research your type of surgery (see RESEARCH)
  • Ask how you should prepare for the surgery, e.g.:
    • What to eat and what not to eat
    • What to bring to the hospital/office
  • Ask to keep any body parts removed during surgery
  • If you are used to having one or more caffeine drinks a day, ask about having some caffeine injected into your blood during surgery to help prevent having a caffeine withdrawal headache right after surgery
  • Ask if you can listen to an hypnosis tape during surgery

Right before:

  • Start listening to an hypnosis tape


  • Continue listening to an hypnosis tape

Cosmetic surgery:


  • Avoid, or delay, deciding to have it if you’re going through a personal crisis (especially in a relationship)
  • Determine how your life will be impacted during recovery from surgery including:
    • Ability to wear contacts
    • Ability to eat
    • Recovery treatment required e.g., bandages, ice packs
  • Consider numerous small procedures vice a few comprehensive procedures
  • Consider laser surgery/resurfacing (see Laser Surgery)
  • Contact the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons for the names of board-certified surgeons in your area and request the names of some of their patients for you to contact

Laser surgery:


  • Be aware of potential risks:
    • Skin may stay red for up to 8 months after treatment
    • Permanent skin discoloration or darkening
    • Permanent scarring
  • Have a simple pre-surgical test done to determine if you have a tendency to form keyloids
  • Ensure the doctor performing the surgery is well-trained in the procedure, especially in how to protect your eyes, etc.
  • Ensure the doctor has taken a course approved by the American Society of Laser Surgery and Medicine in most areas, licensed M.D.’s are not required to have specialized training and there are no guidelines for such training


Thanks for reading!