Imagine deciding that you want new breasts to fill out your bathing suit only to learn that your preferred plastic surgeon can’t get you in until October. Or you try to schedule CoolSculpting before your wedding day and find out that it can take weeks to months to show a difference.

If you’re thinking of making changes in 2018, it might take longer than you think to get a consultation scheduled depending on the type of procedure. Winter months, especially January and February, tend to be really busy times at aesthetic offices.

Here’s our guide on when to book.

 

Non-surgical procedures

Scheduling non-surgical procedures, including injectable fillers and Botox, still tends to be pretty easy. It may take one to two weeks to schedule an initial consultation, but the treatment can often be booked within the following week.

“Sometimes, the consult and injections will happen in the same appointment,” says Leeza, marketing and operations manager for Dr. Ricardo L. Rodriguez, a Baltimore plastic surgeon. “Most injectables can be mixed up and used the same day. The exception is Sculptra, which requires approximately three days preparation time.”

Always ask your doctor about healing times. Just because you’re getting a “lunchtime” procedure doesn’t mean it comes with lunchtime results.

 

Related: Why finding a lawyer is easier than finding a plastic surgeon.

 

Surgical procedures

If you’re looking at a surgical procedure, like breast augmentation or tummy tuck, you will need to give yourself more time.

Before your surgery, you’ll have at least two appointments, a consultation and a pre-op appointment.

“The average wait is normally two to four weeks [from the consult], unless it’s a busy time of year,” says Dr. Thomas Fiala, an Orlando, Florida, plastic surgeon. “An overnight procedure may be four to eight weeks, or sometimes longer.”

Consultation

The consultation is your time to get to know your doctor, ask questions, and outline expectations. You will discuss your surgical plan, what results you expect and cost. It can often take two to three weeks to get in for a consultation after contacting a plastic surgeon’s office.

You should also factor in time for more than one consult to make sure you find a doctor who suits you.

 

Related: Questions plastic surgeons wish you’d ask, but you don’t.

 

Pre-op appointment

Approximately one to two weeks before surgery, you will meet your doctor to verify your surgical plan, discuss any new questions, and thoroughly go over the recovery process. This may include getting prescriptions for post-op care.

For procedures requiring general anesthesia, you will need to have a physical and blood work done within 14 days of surgery. Any practice accredited by the AAAASF (American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities) requires this to ensure you are healthy enough to undergo surgery. Be sure to factor in time to visit your primary care physician or walk-in clinic before your procedure.

Even if your doctor’s schedule is open, you may need to wait a few extra weeks before your surgery to prepare your body. Here are a few reasons you may have to wait:

  1. You smoke or drink. Smoking constricts blood flow, slowing down your body’s healing process. Alcohol can have the same effect, so nix the habit at least three weeks before your procedure. And think about it: If you can give up smoking for several weeks before and during the healing process, you should consider giving it up for good.
  2. You take blood-thinning medications. Your doctor will go over any medications you’re taking and may give you a list of things to avoid. In general, any medication that can thin your blood and cause excessive bleeding should be stopped two weeks before your procedure. This includes ibuprofen, anti-inflammatory drugs and vitamin E. Your doctor may recommend arnica and bromelain supplements to help with post-op swelling and bruising.
  3. You need to improve your diet. Sodium and fatty foods increase swelling which can also increase discomfort after surgery. Eating clean, and adding plenty of fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system, will make recovery easier.

So, when should you book?

Regardless of your procedure, you can expect certain times of year to require more advanced planning.

“Scheduling surgery is all about recovery time,” Rodriguez said. “Spring and early summer are busy times in preparation for summer, and the holidays are a popular time to schedule as well.

“People want to combine the time off for the holidays with their vacation time because recovery can be anywhere from one to three weeks,” she added. “If patients are wanting to schedule over the holidays, they should plan to book around three months in advance.”

 

Booked? Great, now take these 20 questions to ask your doctor at your consultation.