There has been an explosion of doctors and paramedical personnel entering the lucrative world of cosmetic surgery. Unfortunately, consumers are paying the price in the form of bad results and deadly complications. Most of these are preventable if the consumer takes a few steps to prevent this. As evidenced by the recent death of Donda West, the mother of singer Kanye West, prospective patients are asking the question, “What can I do to prevent something like this from happening to me?”
With this in mind, these are my suggestions, based on 30 years of experience, to guide the consumer through to a successful cosmetic surgery outcome.
- Have a complete physical examination by your family doctor or an internist prior to any surgical procedure. He is the one to make sure you are healthy enough to have the surgery you are contemplating.
- Have realistic expectations as to the usual results from the surgery. Faces are not made of clay to be molded to perfection. Each person heals and forms scar tissue differently and slight imperfections are to be expected.
- Only have surgery to please yourself, not a spouse, mother, or other person who wants you to have surgery for them! Also, remember that surgery won’t solve problems in your life such as a wandering mate, a job that you want, etc.
- Pick out the type of result you want in magazines — the general type of surgical result you like. This doesn’t mean you want a specific star’s nose, etc., but rather the type of results you do or do not want.
- Please yourself — not the surgeon — with the type of result you choose. You are the one who will look at this face for the rest of your life — not the surgeon! Choose a surgeon who specializes in a few procedures, has a good reputation in the community, and has been practicing for several years.
- Don’t pick a “TV doctor,” even if it is me. Television wants to entertain you — not make sure its doctors are board certified and competent.
- You get what you pay for. Excellent accredited facilities and medical support cost money and this is not the place to cut corners.
- Take time in deciding when and with whom to have your surgery. See the doctor more than once. If you are not comfortable with the first doctor, see another. This is elective surgery and you should not be rushed into surgery.
- Have a full discussion of the various ways to “fix” your problem, including the advantages and disadvantages of each. That way you can decide for yourself which procedure seems right for you. Even though I may feel a browlift will give the patient a better result, she may prefer eyelid surgery instead.
- It is the responsibility of a good surgeon to inform the patient as to the most common and most serious complications that can occur with the proposed surgery. Though with most facial cosmetic procedures these are rare, this is not true with tummy tucks and body contouring surgery, which can result in death.
- The anesthesia you will be given and by whom is most important. It should be a well-trained anesthetist or anesthesiologist in an accredited facility with the latest equipment.
- Where one goes after surgery and who will take care of them is equally important. For patients having major cosmetic procedures, we recommend that they go to a recovery center with trained personnel who can evaluate any potential problem and take appropriate action. For lesser surgical procedures such as nose, chin, and eyelid surgery, this is not necessary. However, we insist someone picks them up, takes them home, and stay with them until the next day.
- Plan for one to two weeks of downtime depending on the amount of bruising. Good surgeons are mainly worried about what patients do to themselves after surgery, not the surgery itself (falling, getting hit in the face accidently, etc.). Beware of claims of “minimally invasive” or “weekend” facelifts, or any other promoted procedure that appears to cut corners. There is a reason that only a few surgeons recommend these — if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.
- Beware of “simple,” “easy,” or “quick” procedures. They don’t represent the total picture. As for computer imaging, my son can make a great nose or face on a computer screen but knows nothing about cosmetic surgery. Good results on live patients are the best proof of competence.
- Pick a surgeon that has your same aesthetics. If you and your surgeon like the “Joan Rivers look” then you have a match. But if you like a more natural look (i.e., not a “pulled” look), then select a surgeon who actually makes that look.
- Finally, on the day of surgery, have the doctor draw what he is going to do on your face and show it to you. He should not change his operative plan that the two of you have discussed.
In summary, the patient must be an informed “shopper”regarding plastic surgery. It’s like shopping for a new car, but this is your face! A natural look after plastic surgery with very low risk is possible if you do your homework. Good luck!