In my 25 years as a plastic surgeon, I have seen over 20,000 patients. When they first come in for a consultation, I ask them what it is about the looks that bother them. For some patients, it may be as minor as a mole or birthmark and for others, it may be a total body makeover.

It is important that the patient has an understanding of the risks of a procedure as well as what the realistic outcome would be. I explain to patients that any procedure carries certain risks, such as infection, poor wound healing, bleeding, and scar tissue formation. Some procedures have higher risks because of the nature of the procedure itself.

It is also important for the patient to understand that even a procedure that is well done and has no complications may not give them the results they are looking for. Patients with unrealistic expectations may shop for different doctors until they find one who promises to give them what they are looking for, only to be disappointed afterward. In the highly competitive cosmetic surgery field, not only our plastic surgeons treat patients but also dermatologists, ENT physicians, family practice doctors, emergency room physicians, and gynecologists. Not all cosmetic surgeons are equally trained or skilled. Some cosmetic surgeons try to sell the patient an operation that they don’t necessarily need or won’t deliver what they’re looking for. A disappointed patient will then think that the surgeon “messed up the procedure” or that the operation didn’t live up to its billing.

It takes an experienced knowledgeable plastic surgeon to evaluate the patient competently and be truthful about what they can and cannot do. I offer my patients different alternatives for the problem, explain the limitations of each procedure, and work with them to provide a treatment that is reasonable for their needs.