As you decide to undertake your surgical journey, you’ll no doubt have many questions. And, I encourage you to ask as many and all of the questions that come to mind to ensure that your mind is at ease as you go through this process.
Below I’ve answered many of the more common questions patients ask me. This also helps ensure that you get the most out of your consultation and helps you think of other questions that you may contemplate asking.
As you read the below, I have no doubt some questions will remain. I suggest that you write them down to bring during our discussion. This way you’ll ensure that you don’t forget any questions at a later date.
We always endeavour to see you as soon as possible. If you feel your next appointment is too far away, please speak with our reception staff - we may be able to make some changes to accommodate your request.
I currently have surgical admission rights at the following private hospitals:
Acute traumatic wounds and injuries will require urgent surgery within 24-48 hours. This will be organised very swiftly as soon as your referral has been received. Some closed hand fractures can wait approximately 1-2 weeks to allow the swelling to settle down prior to surgery. Skin cancer surgery can be scheduled within 2-4 weeks. Cosmetic procedures can be done at any time within 2-3 months, sometimes even sooner if there are time slots available.
I will make every effort to schedule your surgery around your requests (eg. holidays, work and family commitments) where possible.
The secrets to creating a good scar during your surgery is by placing the incision along your skin creases, in well hidden areas (if possible), along with meticulous skin closure.
However, other external factors, which are beyond a surgeons control, can cause a scar to become more noticeable. These include your skin type, age, genetics and trauma to the wound during its initial healing phases. There are many techniques that can be employed during the healing phase to encourage a better scar outcome. These will be discussed with you during your consultation.
Once your anaesthetic has worn off, you may experience some pain at the surgical site. Generally Panadol (every 4-6 hours, maximum 8 tablets a day) and /or ibuprofen (every 6 hours, maximum 6 tablets a day) will be sufficient to manage any post surgery pain. If it is expected that you may experience more discomfort, a stronger analgesia will be prescribed and given to you prior to your discharge from hospital.
This will depend if you've been discharged from hospital or not.
Prior to your discharge: Please discuss any acute concerns with the hospital nursing staff
After your discharge: Contact our rooms directly on 03 9988 1838
After hours: Our practice has a plastic surgeon point of contact 24 hours, 7 days a week. Please call our rooms on 03 9988 1838 and either leave a message if not urgent, or follow the prompts.
If our response to you is unduly delayed (we may be in surgery), please attend your local emergency room for further assessment or treatment.
Your hand will usually be wrapped up in a bandage with or without a plaster. The entire dressing must remain dry and intact until your post operative visit within 1 week. You may shower but the dressing will need to be kept dry (eg. plastic bag over the hand secured by tapes). If at any point the plaster becomes wet, unstable or broken, please contact our rooms for assistance.
Local anaesthetic is routinely used during the operation to ensure adequate pain relief post operatively. It is not unusual for some of your fingers to feel numb immediately after the operation. Normal sensation should return to your fingers within approximately 12 hours, however there are exceptions to this general rule (for example in cases where nerve repair had to be performed as part of the operation). However you'll be adequately informed about your recover pre and post your surgery specific to the condition and surgery being performed.
Your wounds will usually have a few layers of tape over them. These stay intact until your post operative visit ~ 1 week later. You may shower directly over them and pat these dry, but do not soak them in a bath/pool/spa. Regardless of the outer covering of your wounds, all dressings can get wet in the shower (unless specified otherwise by your surgeon). If the tapes lift or fall off, please notify our rooms. Usually this is not an issue as there is a secondary layer of glue dressing beneath, but you will be guided by the practice staff.
Please contact our rooms at any time if you are at all concerned after your operation.
As with all surgical procedures, there is a risk of a wound infection post surgery. If you are prescribed antibiotics, please ensure you finish the entire course.
Signs and symptoms of an infection may include:
If you develop any of these symptoms, please contact us as soon as possible.
You should not drive within 24 hours after an anaesthetic.
Heavy/high risk activities are not recommended within the first week of surgery as heat, swelling and sweat around the wound site may cause discomfort, pain, and precipitate early infections to occur.
Your post-operative appointment will be booked in usually 1-2 weeks following your surgery, depending on what operation you have had done. If you have had a very minor operation (eg. small skin cancer surgery), you may be able to be seen in our rooms by our practice nurse for a simple change of dressings and wound check. If you have had a hand operation, you may need to see a hand therapist for your initial post-operative review.
Regardless of this, you will also be offered a routine 6-8 week post-operative appointment to ensure everything is going well during your recovery. Depending on the complexity of your procedure, you may even be seen at the 3, 6, 12 month mark (eg. breast cancer reconstruction - where touch ups and multiple stage operations may need to be scheduled).
This depends on what surgery you have had performed. Driving is not recommended within 24 hours of any sedation or a general anaesthesia.
Driving is also not recommended after hand surgery during the period that your injured hand remains in a large bandage, plaster or splint. Keep in mind that sometimes, your injury may require splinting for up to 4-6 weeks. For other body and trunk operations, you may drive when comfortable around week 2-3. This will be addressed during your initial consultation.
This very much depends on what type of work you normally do, and what type of operation you have had. We will go over the fine details with you during your initial consultation.
This, as with work, depends on the size and nature of the surgical procedure and will discussed during your initial consultation. As a general rule, for any procedure which requires an overnight stay in hospital, very light exercise may be introduced around week 4-6, with the view to returning to heavier exercise around 6-8 weeks with a gradual increase in intensity so not to cause injuries.
I encourage you to write any questions you have down for your consultation. This way we can ensure that every thought and concern that you have is addressed and answered for your piece of mind.
If you have questions following your surgery, please contact the clinic on (03) 9988 1838 so we can address them for you promptly.