Plastic surgery can be alluring, especially when you look at before and after photos of ordinary folks or glamorous celebrities looking like a million bucks. But, undergoing plastic surgery is a major decision and can cost thousands of dollars. If you’re considering going under the knife, what can you do to make plastic surgery worth it?
Patients often ask me, “What can I do to make sure I’m getting the most out of my plastic surgery procedure?” Today, I want to spend some time answering that question.
Good Plastic Surgery Happens in the Office, Not the Operating Room
Most people assume that the results from plastic surgery depend on the surgeon’s skills in the operating room – in other words, their technical ability to fix things.
In truth, the outcome is more dependent on the planning and decision-making that happens before the surgery itself. Yes, operating skills are important, but the mark of a good plastic surgeon is having the wisdom to know what operation(s) NOT to perform.
Let me explain this further. When you’re not happy with the way you look and want to have something done about it, the first thing to do is make sure you and your plastic surgeon identify the problem that bothers you. I mean really drill down on what it is you want fixed. Remember, this is sometimes more than one problem or area.
For example, a patient might come into my office and say they want a tummy tuck. What I really want to know is what overall change they are looking for? Do they need liposuction as well? Do they need fat injected into their butt to restore feminine contours? What else might they need to achieve the final overall result they desire? That’s part one. Having a discussion with your plastic surgeon about where you want to go - your final overall result.
It's an Excellent Procedure, But Is It Right for You?
The next step is for you and your plastic surgeon to figure out how to get you where you want to be. And, importantly, if meeting your expectations is even possible. Once there is an understanding about where you want to go, you can start making plans about how to get there. Remember, this may require a combination of procedures.
In my experience, what frustrates patients the most is a lack of efficacy of the procedure they had performed. They heard about a procedure. It did wonders for a friend or someone at work. They went onto RealSelf or talked to people and figured this is the best thing out there. Afterwards, they’re disappointed because it didn’t work. That’s probably because it wasn’t an aggressive enough treatment option. Or, it was the wrong treatment for their problem.
The best way to avoid disappointment is to see a plastic surgeon who offers many different treatment options. This way the surgeon is less likely to be biased toward one procedure. For example, I have lots of patients who come to me because CoolSculptingⓇ didn’t fix their abdominal fat. Usually, they’ve had cool sculpting performed by someone who isn’t a plastic surgeon and who can’t offer them liposuction or a tummy tuck. This provider pushed CoolSculptingⓇ because it was the ONLY treatment option they can offer, not because it was the best solution to the patient’s problem.
I feel bad for these patients because they were obviously not good candidates for CoolSculptingⓇ. Not that CoolSculptingⓇ doesn’t necessarily work, but it was the wrong treatment option for this patient’s problem. In other words, where she was and where she wanted to go, CoolSculptingⓇ would not get her there. But because this provider can only perform CoolSculptingⓇ, they sold the patient on CoolSculptingⓇ. The patient ended up spending thousands of dollars on an intervention that, even if it does work, isn’t going to create the change she wanted.
I cannot stress the importance of getting multiple opinions. Or, at least seeing a provider who offers multiple different treatment options. This will ensure the treatment you are going to receive for a given problem is the best treatment for that problem.
Aggressive Surgery vs Risk of Complications
Having a plastic surgery procedure is a big investment. You’re spending money. You’re taking time off from work. And you’re always taking a risk for complications. Now, we always do our best to make sure that your risk for complications is as low as possible and that your recovery is as easy as possible, but oftentimes those two things are competing with giving you the best possible result.
What I mean by that is… let’s take a tummy tuck for example. The tighter and thinner we make your abdominal skin (which is probably what you want), the higher the risk for wound healing complications or problems healing that incision. This is because the blood flow to the skin that has to do all the healing is compromised, the tighter and thinner we make it. So, it’s our job to balance giving you the best possible result along with balancing the risks for complications as well as your recovery. Of course, we always want no complications and the easiest possible recovery, but oftentimes that would mean a lesser result. So, it’s about finding a balance.
Finding that balance is my job as your plastic surgeon. The most important things you need to worry about are:
- Making an informed decision.
- Trusting your plastic surgeon to get you from where you are to where you want to be.
- Following all your preoperative and postoperative instructions to a “T” to minimize your chances of having any complications or problems.
I find the hardest part about being a plastic surgeon is managing expectations. And that happens at the end of the initial consult and at the time of the preoperative visit before surgery. I want all my patients to be singing my praises and walking on cloud nine after their surgery. That’s why it’s important for me to make sure patients understand what their likely result will be. And also, what is unrealistic or impossible. That’s the hardest thing.
As plastic surgeons, we have an idea about what we can accomplish and how a patient will look after we perform the procedures they’ve chosen. But there is no way we can show the patient what that will look like. I have 3D imaging applications and all the photography things you can imagine. None of them really work all that great to show patients how they will probably look after a procedure. The only procedure that 3D imaging really works well for is primary breast augmentation in women with small breasts and no ptosis. I also find it helpful in rhinoplasty and chin augmentation.
So, the hardest part is conveying to the patient what their final result will likely be. This way they can decide if it’s worth going through the surgery, spending the money, going through the recovery to get there. It all comes down to managing expectations.
I do my best to help the patient understand what to expect. You can do your bit as well. Have an open-minded communication with me and my team. Also, you need to trust us when we tell you that something is not possible or unlikely.
Postoperative Recovery: Follow Instructions to Heal Faster
It is super important that you follow all of our postoperative instructions. This will help reduce your risk of any complications as well as speed up your recovery. There’s really nothing we can do to make your body heal faster. But there’s lots of things you can do to make your body heal more slowly. So, it’s up to you to avoid the things that can slow down recovery. It’s critical that you follow all postoperative instructions so we can get you through the healing process as quickly as possible and with the lowest risk of any complication.
Make Plastic Surgery Worth It
To summarize, first and foremost, make sure you’re having the correct procedure performed that will solve your problems. In other words, if you have bad jowls along your jawline, a neck lift will not fix that. You need a face lift. So, having the correct procedure for a particular problem is step one.
Step two is making sure that your expected outcome and results will be a positive enough change that it is worth it for you to go through the procedure and spend the money.
The third step is following all the postoperative instructions and follow up appointments and being compliant with the postoperative care so that you can heal with the lowest risk of complications.
More About Us
Check out our price estimator to generate an estimate for any combination of procedures that you may be interested in. You can also find more information about all the procedures we offer on our website. If you would like to have your question answered or come on the show as a guest, use the voice recorder on our blog page to leave us a message. Finally, you can also submit a virtual consult where you send us photos as well as your concerns and we can reply with our recommendations.