Get What You Want from Plastic Surgery

Brian Young and Kathleen Bowers

by Brian Young and Kathleen Bowers | August 10, 2010 @ 02:00PM

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Do you want to look more like you did when you were younger? Is there something about your appearance that has always embarrassed you? Or do you just wish your clothes fit a little better? The key to getting what you want from plastic surgery lies in knowing how to work with your plastic surgeon.

Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Brian Kinney explains that achieving success depends on accurately defining success. "In many types of surgery, such as intestinal or heart surgery, there is a medically defined goal. In these cases, it is relatively easy to determine if the surgery is a success – or a failure. But, with cosmetic surgery, we are trying to help the patient achieve a cosmetic ideal. This can be a far more complicated goal to try to achieve – and success can be more difficult to measure." We can't help but agree. No matter how terrific we look, we could always look a bit younger, healthier, or more attractive.

Dr. Kinney advises, "You must work with your surgeon to establish a reasonable goal. You should realize that, during your initial consultation, you and your plastic surgeon are negotiating an acceptable or reasonable endpoint. While dramatic improvements occur everyday in plastic surgery, it's important to be realistic about the results. If your goal is to successfully audition for Baywatch through plastic surgery, then you may want to rethink your plan. But if you want to feel more comfortable in a bathing suit, look a little more refreshed, fit into an old dress, or have that unsightly bump removed from your nose, then your expectations can almost certainly be met."

So who is responsible for the results? Well, the surgeon – and the patient. Dr. Kinney explains, "In some operations, the overwhelming responsibility for reaching this endpoint falls in the hands of the surgeon, not the patient. This is true of procedures like facelifts." Yet, even in these cases, the surgeon's contributions could be undermined by repeated sun exposure or cigarette smoking.

"However, with liposuction, patients have a lot more responsibility than you might imagine," explains Kinney. "Diet, exercise, and weight management are critical for achieving and maintaining good results. And failing to follow instructions could undo the work of even the best surgeon."

Who has the final say? Again, the surgeon – and the patient. "A good surgeon is not prepared to just provide surgery upon demand any more than you would expect to undergo his/her procedure just because that's what he/she prefers. This is always an effort that requires input and responsibility on both sides. When you build a sense of confidence, trust and faith in each other, you will arrive at a plan that works well. Make sure that your doctor's sense of beauty and style is one you agree with. And make sure that you communicate your sense of style and beauty so your doctor can design a procedure that is right for you."

"You always have the final say in which operation you will undergo – and who you will have perform the procedure. And you have every right to expect your surgeon to explain the risks and benefits of, the nature of the procedure, and the rationale for the particular method chosen. Expect all of your questions to be answered until you are comfortable with the plan. Alternatives, including no surgery and limitations, should be discussed thoroughly." The bottom line? "You should be comfortable with your surgeon, and trust him/her to make the right decisions. You also need to have confidence in his/her surgical skills, bedside manner and judgment."

"In turn, your surgeon should be able to expect your full commitment and cooperation with the plan of care. If you aren't comfortable with your doctor's plan, then you should think about finding a different surgeon. Remember: you are in control."

If your surgeon does not thoroughly explain complications and risks along with the benefits, then you should be concerned about his/her promises. Ask to see some photos of the best results, average results, and less than desirable results to get a feel about your doctor's expertise. Keep in mind that every surgeon, no matter how renowned or expert, will have some less than desirable results. This is not necessarily a basis for rejecting a surgeon. In fact, you should be wary of a surgeon who does not want to show you such results. A surgeon who is not forthright in discussing these issues may not be the surgeon for you. 

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