Do your research.
A quick and easy way to become acquainted and familiar with the circumstances surrounding your personal cosmetic concerns is by simply going on the Internet and reading up on similar cases to your own. There are a number of well established medical forums such as RealSelf.com where cosmetic issues which people are dealing with are openly discussed. People often also discuss procedures they have undergone to address their cosmetic issues and their outcomes.
A value to forums such as RealSelf.com is that people not only discuss their own experiences with the surgeons who have worked with them, but surgeons also participate in discussions by giving their opinions and answering questions. It’s a great way to get an initial feel of the kind of doctor you’d like to handle your case.
While reading up on other people’s stories may be a good place to start, keep in mind that cosmetic surgery is a very personal experience that is unique to each individual. It may not be entirely beneficial for you to rely too heavily on other people’s experiences.
Another good way to do research would be to check out the official professional organizational websites of surgeons such as The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery and the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery/Oculofacial Plastic Surgery. I’m committed to education so I try to provide a plethora of information on my websites about the procedures we perform and the services and products we offer. I also have a YouTube channel which I regularly update by answering questions from people like you through FAQ videos, and by showing actual procedures.
Do enough research so that you know what to expect, know the best ways the solution or procedure can be done, and so that you can find the right specialist for you. Information overload and conflicting opinions can lead to confusion. This is where finding a surgeon you trust can help you put this information in context. The more informed you are, the better it’ll be for you and your surgeon.
Do go on more than one consultation with different surgeons.
It is more than likely that different doctors will have different opinions about your situation. These differences in opinion, whether minute or significant, do not necessarily mean that one opinion is more “correct” than the other. A professional opinion is generally a reflection of that surgeon’s style, approach, and preferred technique, in addition to their own experience with similar cases.
This is why there is value in meeting more than one doctor. Even though these specialists may hold similar credentials, there are often significant differences when it comes to treatment style and technique. It is important that you find a specialist whose style and technique suits you and your aesthetic goals.
Do ask questions. A lot of questions.
Don’t be hesitant or embarrassed for having many questions for your doctor. Your decision to undergo cosmetic surgery is a very important one and you should feel comfortable seeking answers to help you feel at ease with your planned procedure.
Ask to look at your surgeon’s before and after pictures of procedures he’s performed in the past. Ask about how he would approach cases like yours. Ask for a step-by-step explanation of the procedure you’re looking into, including what type of anesthesia is used. Ask about his facilities and whether they are accredited by certifying organizations like The Joint Commission. Ask about his staff and their certifications. More importantly, ask about your surgeon’s specialty area and how often he performs procedures such as the one you’re inquiring about.
How you’re surgeon answers your questions can also help you determine if you’re comfortable with the surgeon’s personality. In other words, how your prospective surgeon answers your questions before your surgery is indicative of how your prospective surgeon will answer your questions after your surgery.
Do tell your surgeon your entire medical history.
Sometimes people underestimate the value of providing their doctor a complete overview of their medical history. Your medical history can help your surgeon understand how the area or areas of concern became the way they are. For example, if you have droopy eyelids, it’s important to help your doctor identify any possible neurologic reasons for the eyes to droop. In addition, a detailed medical history provides your doctor important information to determine the type of anesthesia and precautions needed during your surgery.
Do be open to a combination approach.
Achieving natural-looking results is not usually a “one-step” fix. It will sometimes require a combination treatment. For example, if a patient has concerns about premature wrinkling or sagging skin, I may recommend a treatment plan that includes a facelift, PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections and laser resurfacing to improve the quality of the skin, and fillers to augment lost youthful volume. Planning these procedures are highly dependent on factors such as skin type, skin quality, and previous procedures. In my practice, the combination approach is designed to get the most benefit for your skin and face.
Don’t do too much.
While closely related combination treatments are okay, as mentioned in the previous tip, I would however advise against having too much done at one time. By “too much”, I’m referring to multiple, unrelated procedures which increase operating room time. Some people believe that in order to look 5-10 years younger, they need an “overhaul” or “an extreme makeover”, requiring multiple procedures done during one operation. I believe in a strategic approach where fewer procedures create the most benefit. For example, addressing a problem such as puffy under eye bags can have a dramatic impact on your whole face.
Don’t fall for shortcut miracle procedures.
First and foremost, there are no shortcut miracle procedures in cosmetic surgery. In terms of facelifts, for example, many people have come to my office after having had one of those factory lifts, “non-surgical” facelifts, or thread lifts done, and in spite these procedures, they have the same problems they initially had. The use of heating devices as a substitute for facelifts and other procedures in recent years have not only been ineffective but have been shown to harm the skin. The reality is that nothing can duplicate the benefits of a properly done facelift, necklift, and eyelift, if that is what you need.
Don’t assume that the doctor knows what you want and expect out of cosmetic surgery.
As with any type of successful relationship, communication is absolutely key. It is of vital importance that you are able to articulate what your aesthetic goals are, so that the surgeon may align himself with those goals. In my practice, for example, my philosophy is that I strongly believe in taking the time to get to know the patient during consultations. It is only by listening to what they have to say that I can gain a proper understanding of who they are, what is important to them, and what is motivating them to make a change.
When you consult with a very experienced surgeon, it may be easy to think “Oh, he’s done a lot of these procedures before, he’ll know what to do right away.” But, keep this in mind: your situation is unique to you, because your body, your face, your medical history is unlike anyone else’s. For example, three different patients with a similar case of ptosis may not necessarily be treated in the same manner when you factor in differences in age, severity of ptosis, existing medical conditions, and other variables.
Don’t assume that cosmetic or plastic surgeons are experts in every field of cosmetic surgery.
Much in the same way that cosmetic surgeons and plastic surgeons practice separate and specialized disciplines, cosmetic surgeons also have their own areas of expertise—some may be more focused on the eyes or face, while some may be more focused on breast surgery, and so on. It is important that you seek out a cosmetic surgeon who specializes in the particular area that you want to have addressed. It’s generally accepted in the medical community that choosing a specialist will significantly reduce the chances of complications and undesirable results.
Don’t foster unrealistic expectations.
Understand that cosmetic surgery, like any other surgery, is a serious procedure with its specific risks, benefits and alternative options. It is not something that should be treated lightly, and it is certainly not something that one should rush into.
It is also important to recognize that, fundamentally, natural cosmetic surgery is not intended to create the unnatural and exaggerated features that we often see on celebrities and TV personalities. While it is desirable to like the way a particular celebrity looks and to want to achieve the same look, cosmetic surgery must be done in a way that will enhance and compliment your own features, rather than change or take away from it. For example, some women will aspire to have voluminous Angelina Jolie or Scarlett Johansson lips. This may be achievable to a degree as long as your lips would be in proportion to your face. In my opinion, cosmetic surgery is not designed to change your look completely, but to enhance what you already have.
When it comes to seeing results, your doctor should guide you about this. In many situations, improvements can be seen as early as one week after surgery but the healing process will continue for months after. Always communicate with your doctor during the post-surgery healing stage so they can monitor your progress, and help you achieve your desired appearance.