Frequently asked questions

These are the most frequently asked questions about plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery - please click on the question to read the answer.

If you have futher questions, please feel free to call Dr Kippen's rooms at any time.

How do I make contact with Dr Kippen?
Appointments for all Dr Kippen’s rooms are made by phoning the one centralised number, 1300 547 736. You may also contact Dr Kippen by email on doctor@johnkippen.com.au. You will be offered a range of dates and times at the rooms most convenient to you. Your consultation will be confirmed and costs explained.
Do I need a referral?
Referrals are not necessary but encouraged. General Practitioners will usually refer you to a specialist they trust and have confidence in. These referrals will also include important details of your medical history, medications and allergies. Rebates for consultations are higher with a referral, which means you get more back from Medicare or your health fund.
What happens at the consultation?

At your first consultation you will be required to complete a Confidential Registration Form, and your medical history will be reviewed and assessed. Your specific concerns will be discussed in relation to the procedure you are interested in. The form is available to download on the Contact page of this website, which can save you time at your first consultation.

The procedure is then explained in detail including preoperative planning, intraoperative course and the likely recovery. Dr Kippen will show you a computer presentation of the entire procedure, which includes before and after photographs and covers everything from defining the operation and explaining how the procedure is carried out to the recovery, likely outcomes, possible complications and costs. It may be necessary to take photographs of you to complete the assessment and planning. You will also receive an information pack that contains explanatory brochures, guidelines and information sheets.

What happens after the first consultation?
Depending on the procedure you will usually be encouraged to attend a second consultation. This allows time for you to consider all the information you have been given, prepare questions and conduct your own research. It also allows time for an estimate to be prepared and posted to you, if required. Your specific procedure is planned and documented. At the second consultation, any more questions you may have are answered, points of the procedure explained and all other issues considered. A suitable date and time for your surgery will be organised and any additional blood tests, implants or garments are arranged.
Are there risks with Plastic or Cosmetic Surgery?
All surgery has risks. At the time of your consultation these risks and likely outcomes will be comprehensively discussed. Dr Kippen will use a range of carefully selected photographs to help explain a full range of outcomes and possible complications. This enables him to point out subtle and specific points associated with each procedure and helps ensure your expectations are realistic. You will be given handouts and brochures to read and independent research is also encouraged.
Will there be a scar?
Once skin is cut or incised either by scalpel or laser, it heals with a scar. Plastic surgeons are skilled in minimising the length of scars, concealing scars in creases or shadows and orientating scars in lines of minimal skin tension. They are also skilled in wound and scar care. You will be given advice on scar care from initial healing up to full resolution. Individual scar tendency and the risk of hypertrophic, keloid or stretched scars varies with each person and the site of the body. Surgeons cannot guarantee the outcome of scarring.
Should I get a second opinion?
Dr Kippen encourages you to obtain as much information from as many sources as you require. This allows you to make an informed decision. You need to feel comfortable and confident with your chosen surgeon. Dr Kippen is happy to provide contact details of his plastic surgery colleagues if you wish to gain a second opinion.
What are the costs?
Once you have had your consultation, been examined and assessed, a detailed estimate is prepared. A total and out-of-pocket or gap cost is outlined. This includes the fee for the surgeon and anaesthetist. Hospital costs include both a bed and theatre fee. Any tissue sent for histological examination will incur a cost from the Pathologist. Special requirements such as implants and binders or garments will also incur a cost. You are encouraged to contact the hospital and, if applicable, your health fund or Medicare to check these costs.
Will I need to go to hospital?
This depends on your procedure and the complexity of the surgery. Dr Kippen performs procedures ranging from those requiring local anaesthetic in his rooms, to those requiring day surgery stays, and others requiring full hospitalisation including a number of days admission. The duration of your procedure, hospitalisation and recovery will be explained at your consultation.
Do I need to fast?

Any procedure that requires sedation, twilight or general anaesthesia will require you to fast. Morning procedures require an overnight fast. Afternoon procedures usually require fasting after an early  breakfast.

You should confirm when you should fast from at the time you confirm your hospital booking. The order of your Dr Kippens’s operating schedule for the day (known as his ‘list’) takes medical conditions, age and special requirements into account. Admission times are staggered to minimise preoperative wait times.
Will I be nauseous after an anaesthetic?
Some people do experience nausea after anaesthetics. Please alert the Anaesthetist if you experience nausea. Many procedures are performed using local anaesthetic in combination with sedation, twilight or general anaesthetic. This reduces the anaesthetic requirements and reduces the total dose needed and therefore potential side effects.
What do I do when discharged?
Written advice is included in your information pack at the time of your consultation. At the time of discharge you will be reminded of your care plan. Specific procedures may require special instructions and these will be given to you. These include helpful tips such as diet, use of sunglasses, sleeping positions or dressing care. If there is any doubt or confusion please contact the rooms to clarify this.
How long will my recovery take?
This depends on the complexity and duration of your surgery. Recovery varies from full activity the next day to weeks. Each procedure will be discussed in detail at the consultation and expected outcomes explained. Dr Kippen will cover everything from wound healing and scar management to mobilisation, driving and return to work or exercise. In general, even after complex surgery, most people are back at sedentary work and home based activities by two weeks. Activities are then graded over the next two to four weeks and exercise graded over the next four to six weeks from the time of surgery.
How long will the stitches remain?
Many procedures rely on buried, dissolving sutures or stitches to support the healing tissue. If sutures are placed in the skin only these will need to be removed. Early removal minimises the risk of cross-hatch marks. At the time of booking your surgery, a date will be given for your suture removal and wound check. You will be contacted to confirm this the day before your appointment.
How will I look after my incision/scar?

A detailed and written instruction sheet will be given to you. This includes advice on dressing changes, showering or bathing, hair washing, the use of ointment and other specific instructions. You are encouraged to contact the practice with any concerns during the healing phase. Everyone has some degree of bruising and swelling. Using photographs, Dr Kippen will detail the likely outcomes for your procedure from days to weeks.

When do I go to the hospital?

You should contact the hospital the working day before surgery to confirm your appointment, admission and fasting times. On the morning of your procedure, take any medication with a sip of water only. (Please note that specific medical conditions may need specific advice, for example diabetics. Please contact Dr Kippen or the hospital for additional advice.)

On arrival at hospital you will complete the admission procedure and be allocated a bed. Your identity, medical history, allergy risk and basic observations (pulse, blood pressure) will be checked. Depending on the procedure Dr Kippen may need to draw on you as part of the surgical plan and to define the placement of incisions. You should ask any last minute questions! Here you will also meet the anaesthetist and you can discuss any matters related to the anaesthetic with him or her.
When can I drive?

This depends on the surgery and will be detailed at the time of your consultation. The average range varies from the same day to a few days. The advice for any procedure using local, twilight or general anaesthetic is not to drive for 24 hours after your surgery.

How long do I need to be away from work?
This depends on the complexity of the surgery. Even with the most invasive procedures, sedentary work can usually be resumed in about two weeks. Times do vary, however; more active occupations may require longer and you will be advised of this. Should you require a medical certificate this is prepared sensitively and in confidence.
When can I exercise?
This depends on the surgery, the individual and the nature of the exercise. A detailed return to exercise plan will be discussed with you. In general, even after complex surgery, at two weeks sedentary type of activities around the home can be resumed. Between two and four weeks you can build up to normal activities and between four and six weeks a resumption of graded exercise take place. By contacting the rooms any uncertainty can be resolved.
Will I have bruising or swelling? How long will this last?
Most surgery results in some bruising and swelling but it is extremely variable between individuals and even from side to side. It also depends on the type and site of surgery. Bruising and swelling usually tracks downwards and may accumulate in the lower eyelids, neck, lower abdomen and flanks. Bruising and swelling usually resolves by two to three weeks. Some procedures are more likely to cause prolonged swelling and Dr Kippen will let you know if this is the case. You will find that any bruising that does occur will change colour from black to purple to green to yellow before fading.