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What to Expect

What to Expect

Working together: FAQs about surgery and choosing a surgeon

Cleft palate before & afterIt’s important for parents to take the time to learn about their child’s diagnosis and surgery. Parents should ask about various treatment options in order to make the best decision for their family. The questions below share some of the things that can be helpful to consider.

How do I learn about my child’s care plan?

There are few true emergencies in pediatric plastic surgery. Parents can usually safely take time to feel comfortable with their child’s doctors and care plan. You should not feel rushed during your initial appointment and you should have enough time with the surgeon to get answers to all your questions.

How do I find out the best age to perform surgery?

Asking questions like “How long can the surgery be safely delayed?” and “What problems can happen if we delay?” can help you to understand the urgency of your child’s condition.

For very young children, sometimes doctors wait a little longer to operate to avoid more surgeries later. If your child’s condition doesn’t seem urgent to you but the surgeon is recommending immediate surgery, try to understand the cause for needing to do it quickly. A second opinion may be a good choice.

What should be considered when selecting a surgeon?

  • How much time a surgeon devotes to a specialty area like craniofacial and pediatric plastic surgery (versus doing other procedures) can be helpful to know. You can ask directly. Or, you can visit your doctor’s website to find out if your doctor is focused on the condition your child has, or if they spend their time on other areas.
  • How well your questions are answered show that the doctor has the necessary experience and skill to treat your child. Does the surgeon answer your questions completely and specifically?
  • Good judgment is as important as experience when choosing a surgeon. Ask your surgeon if there are different options for your child’s condition and to explain why they recommend the suggested option and not other choices. The best surgeons plan the smallest operation that will be most helpful to the child, with the least amount of risk.
  • It’s always important to find a surgeon who genuinely cares about your child. They should be a partner who helps you get the best care possible for your child. Be wary of any doctor who discourages second opinions.
  • It may be helpful to speak with other families with a child with a similar condition who have been treated by that surgeon. It’s OK to ask your surgeon about this. Their office should be able to help connect you with other families. Some families check online communities and support groups to find other families with children who have the same condition. Be careful about any information you might hear; we encourage you to check in with your surgeon about any medical concerns.


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