Choosing to have cosmetic surgery is a big decision that should come after a lot of research and forethought. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Sometimes prospective patients make hasty decisions before becoming as informed as they should. If their plastic surgeon does not guide them carefully through the process, the patient may wind up having a procedure that is not their best option, which can lead to further corrective procedures down the road.
Dr. Paul M. Steinwald is a Chicago-area plastic surgeon double-board certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Speaking to The International News Magazine, Dr. Steinwald stressed the importance of making informed plastic surgery decisions, explaining that "Patients should be able to rely on their surgeon to honestly assess their physical condition and advise them on which procedure they need to reach their goals.”
Knowing Your Options
One problem Dr. Steinwald described to the International is that patients have already decided what procedure they want before consulting with an expert. A patient may have already set their mind on liposuction before consulting a doctor, when in reality a tummy tuck would be a better fit for them. Or a woman dissatisfied with her breasts may not have properly weighed the pros and cons of breast augmentation versus a breast lift.
In Dr. Steinwald’s view, explaining the different risks and results of varying cosmetic procedures is one of his most important tasks. "Patients should be able to rely on their surgeon to honestly assess their physical condition and advise them on which procedure they need to reach their goals," he told the International.
What’s the Harm?
Let’s consider a hypothetical plastic surgery candidate. She’s a woman who has had several children and wants to regain the shape she had before those pregnancies. She may think liposuction would be the way to go. However, she would actually be a better candidate for a tummy tuck. If she has liposuction, her skin won’t shrink back down to its prior size and tautness once the fat is gone. A tummy tuck, on the other hand, would remove excess skin and can get rid of stretch marks or scars while tightening up her abdominal muscles.
The trouble is, if she walks into a plastic surgeon’s office and says she wants liposuction, the doctor may not share all that information with her. Instead he might sign off on her desires and perform the liposuction without giving her the information to make a better decision, either due to lack of diligence or because the procedure she wants is easier for him.
In some cases, choosing the wrong surgery initially can lead to complications and even more surgery. Dr. Steinwald detailed an example to the International: "A woman who gets a breast augmentation when she really needs a breast lift may come to my practice near Chicago for revision surgery. Revision surgery is generally more complicated than primary breast surgery and includes more risks."
In other cases, there may be a simpler, less invasive procedure that would be more appropriate for a patient. Patients seeking brow lift surgery could often achieve the youthful look they want through dermal fillers or Botox instead.
Making an Informed Decision
While the best doctors will provide information and guidance to patients, it is important to protect yourself by making sure your doctor is properly credentialed and looking out for your best interests. Some steps you can take include:
- Making sure your doctor is board-certified and has the proper training for your procedure. Some doctors will call themselves plastic surgeons after a few weekend classes.
- 2. Ask your doctor questions during your consultation. Find out how often he or she has performed your specific procedure.
- 3. Seek opinions from others about their cosmetic surgery experiences, both with your procedure and your doctor.
- 4. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion if your doctor’s recommendations don’t match your expectations.
- The more information you gather, the more prepared you are to make the best, safest decision about your surgery.