At least a few times each week I get emails asking what to do after a surgical procedure was done (not by me), many times with complications. People contemplating surgery should have doctor/patient communication on the top of the list for doctor’s qualities. Having a doctor who is technically competent, but can not support you emotionally, intellectually, or practically, is really of no value.
Sometimes the questions asked of me reflect simple post-operative questions which should be in the written post-operative instructions giving to patients after any surgery. Sometimes the questions reflect simple every day things like washing ones hair immediately after transplantation, or more complex questions like shock loss or hair thinning after surgery. Sometime there are symptoms reflecting possible infection, circulation of the skin, bleeding or vascular problems after surgery. It is becoming clear to me that too many doctors are failing to really connect with their patients. Doing surgery may command the $$$, but good medical care reflects not only competent surgery, but also good support of the patient before the surgery (good education and informed consent issues) and after the surgery, when the patient is clearly off balance while things are healing. Communications start before the surgery, when plans are made such as where the grafts are to be placed and most important in establishing the expectations on what to expect.
The reason for writing this post isn’t to say that I necessarily dislike these types of emails. After all, I’m here to help. You shouldn’t have to seek out post-surgical advice from a doctor that is different from the doctor that performed the surgery. My point is that you’ll want to be sure that the doctor you select has good communication skills during the post-operative period by probing some of his/her patient’s experiences. This is a very key element that it seems many people overlook when choosing their doctor.