You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on

This one is about: Dealing with Plastic Surgeons

(c) 1998 Wide Smiles
This Document is from WideSmiles Website -
Reprint in whole or in part, with out written permission from Wide Smiles
is prohibited. Email:

Two adults on Cleft-Talk talk about how to deal with Plastic Surgeons:


I have read the posts on PS's (Plastic Surgeons). I have a few things to say. This comes from many years of dealing with PS's over the years.

One of the PS's I had was very well-known. In fact, he was the pioneer of modern day craniofacial reconstructive procedures. People were in awe of this doctor. Not my parents and I. We were totally realistic about the surgeries. We asked questions. I saw a lot of denial by families who went through the program and I saw comments in the paper like "He's like a God." Sorry folks, even the pioneers of techniques are human too.

First of all, you need to establish a relationship with your or your child's PS. And that relationship must be built on TRUST. If you don't feel comfy with the PS, you need to look for another one. I've always trusted my PS even though I was feeling angry and frustrated with my surgeries. I knew they were doing the right thing.

Secondly, you have the right to ask questions. My first PS spent many hours with my parents and I over the years. He answered our questions as best as he could. I can remember when I was thirteen years old. My parents had me make up a list of questions to ask the PS and my PS took the time to answer them as best as he could. Now I don't have so many questions.

Finally, you should never let a PS give you a guarantee. There are NO guarantees when it comes to reconstructive surgeries. Too many factors involved. A major pet peeve I have is when a PS tells you this is will take X amount of surgeries or it will be done by a certain age. I've been there done that. And it took me years to get over it.

What do I look for in a PS??

1.  Someone who is good.
2.  Someone who has a decent bedside manner.
3.  Someone who will listen to me.
4.  Someone who will treat me like a person.

I was reading someone's post about their child's first PS who was caring and went out of their way to check up on the child. My first PS was like that too. And I am finding that many people here on CT don't have that. My current PS was trained under retired PS. I see a lot of the same qualities there...caring, supportive, expertise, no egos.

Let me tell you a little bit about my PS's. My first PS was more than a PS to my family and I. He was what my mom has described as an extended family member. After all, he was part of our lives for 29 years. When he retired, there was some issues for me to deal with. It was like losing a member of the family. The PS from France was caring too. There were some language barriers and some other issues.

My retired PS referred me to current PS. I believe that I was one of his first craniofacial patients in his practice. I will never forget when I first went to him for the first appt. I instantly felt comfortable and knew I could trust him. I bet I spent like an hour with him. We talked about the plans for surgery. I told him what I wanted done. He said he would
consult with retired PS. He has consulted with PS on the last two surgeries and what will be done with my columella later this year.

Boy do we have a good patient-doctor relationship. I like it. We talk computers. He told my parents and I about the birth of his second daughter. My dad was talking to someone right not long after my latest surgery. He was telling them how PS thinks the world of me.

My PS (the two local ones) have always had me come in for pre-op visits. And they have always taken the time to talk to my parents after surgery. My current PS does his own hospital rounds. And he does those in the AM. The
team surgical nurse comes around too once or twice a day. She likes to talk PCs with me too. LOL

Mom taught me sooo much how to deal with PS and others with titles. I am not intimidated by them. I sometimes intimidate them. :-)


Anyone looking for a PS, or considering switching, would do well to tuck away Kristi's tips. Let me add:

Before you visit a new PS, tell your child WHY you have selected that surgeon. "I'm impressed by this surgeon's education and credits" goes much further than "Her office is closer and our neighbor's son liked his rhinoplasty."

Encourage the surgeon and your child to have private time together. Your little one may be harboring all kinds of emotions that she doesn't air in front of mom and dad. A good surgeon knows the emotional minefield behind an evolving physical appearance.

Your case is as important as anyone's. Likewise, your case is no more important. Think about it. Don't expect special treatment. But don't suffer needlessly, either. Treat your surgeon with respect and expect the same. If you do not tolerate rudeness, tardiness, and indifference from any other professional -- be it the garbage collector, the dry
cleaner, or the baby sitter -- do not tolerate it in your surgeon.


Wide Smiles depends on donations to continue to provide this resource for you.
Please help keep us online!

Cleft Links | Wide Smiles | Photo Gallery