If you’re ready to go under the knife, the first step in beginning the process — after finding a board-certified plastic surgery, that is — is to do your due diligence. Physical, mental and emotional preparation is necessary for a successful experience. Here are four dos and don’ts that experts want their prospective patients to keep in mind when visiting a surgeon’s office for an initial plastic surgery consultation.

Do Ask the Right Questions

When you go in for your initial consultation with a cosmetic surgeon, it is vitally important for you to be prepared. You may even want to consider taking a list of questions to ask with you when you go to your appointment.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons offers a handy list of questions for patients to ask a prospective surgeon. Here are a few of the list’s highlights:

  • How many of these procedures of this type have you performed?
  • Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
  • How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
  • What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
  • How are complications handled?
  • Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for each procedure and what results are reasonable for me?

The list can be found in its entirety at www.plasticsurgery.org.

Don’t Disregard Your Surgeon’s Advice

Your surgeon is your guide through your plastic surgery experience. He is an experienced medical professional and will offer you advice that you shouldn’t ignore.

“You want to see an ethical surgeon who will recommend tests and screenings beforehand, if needed,” says Alan Matarasso, MD, FACS, a spokesperson for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “People need to remember plastic surgery is not a haircut — every surgery carries risks.”

For example, many cosmetic surgeons will advise patients to take steps such as quitting nicotine use before undergoing a procedure. If you’re asked to make lifestyle changes before undergoing a procedure, you should endeavor to do so. Most of the advice your surgeon offers will help speed your recovery and maximize your potential results.

Do Communicate Clearly with Your Chosen Surgeon

The results expected from plastic surgery vary from patient to patient. What you expect from a breast augmentation procedure or a facelift is likely not the exact same outcome that your friend or co-worker would want. With that in mind, it is imperative to ensure that your chosen cosmetic surgeon has a real idea about the results you want.

How can you do that? Joe Gryskiewicz, MD, another spokesperson for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, says that sometimes something as simple as bringing in a photograph can help get you and your cosmetic surgeon on the same page.

Additionally, a photograph can help your c