Working as a patient co-ordinator at a leading cosmetic and plastic surgeons’ is certainly an exciting, encouraging and rewarding role for Jodie. From providing patients with pre-surgery support and advice to liaising with surgeons and nurses for beneficial aftercare, there’s always much to be done. As many patients considering breast surgery want to understand the whole process, we recently sat down with Jodie to discuss just that. Who better than someone who oversees these surgeries on a regular basis?
I: Let’s start with the basics. A patient calls up. What are the typical questions they will ask?
J: They’ll ask lots of things. Surgery availability, prices, where procedures are held and how long after surgery can they go on holiday are common, as well as where we’re located, our surgeons’ names and how long we’ve been here. Successfully answering these questions is imperative to building trust with potential patients.
I: A prospective patient visits a clinic for a breast surgery consultation. How long will this last and what information will they be provided with?
J: Patients will see the surgeon for approximately 20-30 minutes and then the co-ordinator for another 30. The surgeon will go through any of the risks and complications of surgery and take patients’ breast measurements. They can also (and usually like to) try implants in a bra. A co-ordinator will discuss their pre-op, what happens prior to surgery and coming in for an MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) test. Some people may also need blood taking. We’ll also discuss with them what happens on the day of the procedure and aftercare. We offer a 1-year aftercare warranty and then we also offer a 20-year cover at an additional £599.
I: It sounds very thorough and well done.
J: It is. It’s a very thorough consultation. On their 1st visit they get all the information that they could possibly require to help them make the decision about going ahead.
I: What breast surgery concerns do patients have, if any?
J: I think a main concern for patients is probably if they’ve chosen the right implant size. It’s probably the biggest decision on the day of consultation that patients make. So, the surgeon will take all of the breast measurements and he will advise an implant that’s suitable for those measurements. It’s not just a guessing game. He doesn’t just pick out a number and say, you know, you have a ‘325’. It’s all science. When the surgeon does the measurements, he’ll tell them what implant they can have and a lot of people will say, ‘No. I want to go bigger’, because of what their friends have told them to say. It’s obviously the surgeons’ job and our job to make them aware of the limits of what implant size they can have.
They then try implants in a bra with a vest on in front of a mirror and then they are told that what they see in the mirror is how their breasts will look naked. With a bra you can enhance them and make them look bigger. If the patient is unsure or a bit dubious about the size then we’d never let them go ahead with the surgery until they were completely happy. So, if they saw the surgeon and then came through to see a co-ordinator and were still ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ about the size, we’d send them back to see the surgeon again, or we’d make them an appointment to see a surgeon again so they can have a think about it.
I: That’s good. How long after a consultation will a patient typically come in for surgery?
J: They have to have a 2-week cooling off period. So, from the day of their consultation, they must wait 2 weeks until they can have the operation. Some people go ahead after 2 weeks. Some people go away, have a think about it and then call up and book a date. A lot of people have to take their time, you know, checking with work to see what holiday availability they can have.
The consultation, and all of the associated paperwork lasts 6 months, allowing a patient to go ahead with surgery within that time. But if they decide to go ahead after 6 months, they’d have to come back and do it all again.
I: What kind of things are patients asked to do pre-surgery?
J:1 week before their surgery date, we’ll email them an admission letter. On that admission letter, it tells them what time to arrive the day of surgery, it tells them what time to stop eating and drinking and what to bring with them. We always advise patients to bring something comfortable to travel home in, so something that zips up or buttons and nothing that they pull over their head. We also advise they bring some slip-on shoes so they haven’t got to bend over to put them on, and we’ll also discuss a post-op bra with them. They do have to bring a post-op bra with them and we’ll give them details about which one to order, depending on their size.
I: What should a patient expect on the day of their breast surgery?
J: On the day of surgery, the surgeon and the anaesthetist will both come onto the ward and speak with the patient. The surgeon will draw his measurements on the patient’s chest and the nurse will do some observations. She’ll take the oxygen levels and ion levels for example. Once the surgeon and anaesthetist are happy, then the patient will be gowned up and will walk down to theatre.
Everyone in theatre will introduce themselves to the patient, and the anaesthetist will then put a cannula in the patient’s hand and the patient will be asked to count down from 100 and then she’ll be asleep. The anaesthetist is stood by the side of the patient throughout the whole procedure. The surgeon makes an incision underneath the breast pocket. He makes a pocket inside the breast for the implant to go into. He’ll wash the pocket out, he’ll put the implant in and then close the pocket. He does obviously the same on both sides and then the patient will be taken to recovery and be woken up and taken back to bed to rest for between 4-6 hours before she’s discharged.
We have 3 rooms. A room with 4 beds, a room with 2 beds and a single room. The nurse manager will decide who’s going onto which ward. She’ll decide that the week before and it’ll be dependent on what procedure they’re having, what medication they’re on and any special care they may need.
I: Are they always discharged the same day, or is dependent on each person?
J: Most of our theatre lists are all planned as day cases, so if it’s just a straightforward breast augmentation, then yes, it’s just a day case. If it’s an uplift or breast reduction then they may be required to stay overnight.
I: How do patients usually feel after the surgery?
J: Very, very sleepy.
I: What post-surgery support do New Birkdale Clinic provide?
J: When they’re discharged they are given an out-of-hours phone number (24-hour care line) for the nurse manager. They are given antibiotics and painkillers and they take that for a week. They’re also given a post-op care leaflet and it tells them things such as not to shower and not to take the resins off. It gives them a date and time to come back and see the nurse, which is normally 1 week after surgery. At the appointment, the nurse will remove the dressings and just check that everything is healing ok. She may redress them, but most of the time, everyone should be healing ok enough to leave the dressings off. However, they must continue to wear a sports bra day and night for 6 weeks.
They’ll see the surgeon between 4 and 6 weeks post-op and if everything is fine at that appointment then the surgeon will discharge the patient and there’s no need for them to come back. But if they do want to come back, or if they have any concerns or worries, then they’re more than welcome to. They have aftercare cover for 1 year, with all appointments to see the surgeon, nurse and staff within that year free of charge.
I: Do you have any advice for those considering breast surgery?
J: I think I’d probably say don’t listen to friends and family, and listen to only your surgeon, because the surgeon will take your breast measurements and they advise on the best possible implant size for you. A lot of people come with a pre-conceptive idea about what implant size they want and it’s not always suitable for them.
Do some research. Make sure it is the right thing for you and that you have the time afterwards to rest and recover. Remember, no heavy-lifting for at least 6 weeks post-op and no holidays within that time because you can’t wear bikinis or go in chlorine water.
Discover our range of breast surgery procedures here.