Asking questions before surgery can lead to happier results

07/03/2012 12:00 AM

07/02/2012 10:13 PM

Q. I have a very simple question: Do you think I will be happy with my plastic surgery?

A: While your question sounds simple, it’s probably one of the most complicated questions I get. I have sleepless nights thinking of that answer every time I see a new patient who wants plastic surgery. So the way I approach this question is to ask myself, “What can make this patient not be happy with their plastic surgery?’’

Any Facial plastic or Plastic surgeon will tell you, one unhappy patient drowns out the accolades from 100 happy patients, so the incentive to have happy patients is high.

Major factors can affect a patient’s happiness, including a patient’s expectations, life events, expectations of friends and family and quite frankly, whether the patient is a positive person or not. To be a successful surgeon you have to pick patients with whom you can have success. Some patients will be ecstatic with their results that another patient will consider a total failure.

The “art” of medicine is found in the experience and ability of the surgeon to conduct a thorough interview of the potential patient (and you thought you were the one who was interviewing the doctor!) Time spent upfront discussing the patient’s wishes and motivation for surgery is time well spent.

Factors that should be considered when potentially picking a patient to have surgery include where the patient is in his or her life. Are they involved in a good relationship (a major factor in having a happy patient)? Are they getting divorced, changing partners and or happy to be alone at last?

Timing for surgery is equally as important. I do not believe a patient should have major surgery during a major change in their lives. I like to put patient in a plastic surgery “time out” so they can make a more rational decision. The “time out” includes non-invasive procedures that will enhance their look and make them feel better such as Dysport, Botox, Restylane and Juvederm.

One factor that sometimes cannot easily be determined is the patient’s jealous friends. Often I will have patients who are very happy with their surgery, only to come in at six months because of dissatisfaction. My first question usually is, “Which one of your friends said that to you?” They usually laugh and realize what had happened. (If there were a problem, I would address it.)

You should be happy with your surgery if you do the following: Do your homework and pick a surgeon who does a lot of the procedures you are seeking. Talk with the surgeon and ask as many questions as you need. Ask to see pictures of the procedure you are about to have. Discuss the risks and benefits of your procedure. And make sure you like your doctor before you have surgery as your relationship can only get worse if you are not happy with your results.

Good luck.

About Dr. Carlos Wolf

Dr. Carlos Wolf

@carloswolfmd

Dr. Carlos Wolf has been working in the field of plastic surgery for more than 20 years. He answers your questions about plastic surgery.

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