Ten Misconceptions About Plastic Surgery
The most common misconceptions about plastic surgery are addressed in the context of Life Stage Personal Enhancement.
- 1. Women shouldn’t get plastic surgery until they’re at least 60: Waiting until a woman is post-menopausal can dramatically – and negatively – change the nature of the surgical result. The older patient too often winds up with an “overdone” look in which the skin needs to be pulled extremely tight in order to achieve contour improvements that could have been more easily maintained if the procedure had been done at a younger age. Undertaking less-drastic procedures pre-menopause allows results to be maintained longer and, in many circumstances, to appear more natural and in line with a woman’s overall appearance.
- 2. Plastic surgery is only for the rich: Statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgery show that the vast majority of patients undergoing plastic surgery are middle-class patients who use their own disposable income. In fact, the median income for patients who undergo plastic surgery is approximately $80,000. Many plastic surgeons offer a variety of flexible financing options, and non-surgical procedures like the injection of Botox and use of fillers like Juvéderm is surprisingly cost-effective — in many cases costing little more than what a woman can expect to pay for hair coloring or salon treatment.
- 3. Plastic surgery is only for women: Men currently represent 15 percent of the total number of patients undergoing cosmetic surgery, a number that has been steadily increasing over the past decade. It’s not surprising: Men need to look their best in a competitive job market. As a result, more men entering their 40s and 50s are seeking access to non-surgical procedures like the use of Botox, neurotoxin or fillers to rejuvenate their appearance. Men are also growing more comfortable with other surgical procedures including treatment of enlarged congenital breasts (gynecomastia), liposuction to address “love handles” and rhinoplasty or nasal surgery.
- 4. Plastic surgery is only for the vain: Many patient satisfaction surveys and quality of life outcome studies have shown that patients enjoy genuine improvements in body image and a greater satisfaction with one’s position in life after cosmetic surgery. It’s a cliché, but I often say that plastic surgery doesn’t add years to your life, but it can add life to your years. Quality of life, not vanity, is the main decision-making factor for the vast majority of plastic surgery patients.
- 5. It takes a long time to recover from plastic surgery: Advances in surgical technique, anesthesia methods and pain control mean that, in many cases, patients no longer have the downtime associated with recovering from general anesthesia. The incidence of nausea and vomiting after surgery is markedly decreased and patients are often able to get back into their daily routines more quickly. While surgical healing does take time, most patients can expect to return to normal activities in just a few weeks.
- 6. Breast augmentation is dangerous: Breast implants have probably been the most thoroughly studied device in the history of American medicine. While no operation is without risks, the risks and potential complications of breast augmentation surgery have been very clearly defined. Patients are getting the message: Since 2008, breast augmentation surgery has been the most common cosmetic operation in the United States.
- 7. Botox is a dangerous toxin: Botox is derived from the toxin secreted by particular bacteria. While massive doses of this toxin can cause disease to develop, the dose level of Botox treatments is minimal, and the onset of disease has never been seen after the administration of Botox. Indeed, Botox has one of the best safety profiles of any medicine that has ever been developed.
- 8. All esthetic or cosmetic surgeons are plastic surgeons: Many specialties offer plastic or cosmetic surgery services, but not all of these surgeons have undergone the same level of training as Board Certified plastic surgeons. Patients are always advised to check the credentials and qualifications of their surgeon and should check to see (a) whether that surgeon is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and (b) whether the surgeon has privileges to perform cosmetic surgical procedures in a hospital setting. Having hospital privileges subjects the plastic surgeon to peer review, ongoing credentialing, medical education and other monitoring that does not exist if the plastic surgeon operates in a non-hospital facility.
- 9. Having plastic surgery in a private residence or ambulatory surgery center is better than in an accredited hospital: Statistics from the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities show that when accredited facilities are used (whether that be an ambulatory surgery center or a certified accredited office), patient outcomes are the same as if the procedure was done in an accredited hospital. Certain conveniences and amenities exist in private ambulatory centers and offices that hospitals cannot replicate. On the other hand, hospitals have access to a broad range of specialists should complications develop. If you’re considering surgery in an accredited office or facility, ask whether the facility has an agreement with a nearby hospital for immediate transport should any complications arise.
- 10. Hard work and improving one’s nutrition can deliver surgical-type results: Attention to diet, exercise, sun avoidance and nutrition are all important areas to have integrated into one’s personal lifestyle before elective cosmetic surgery is considered. There will be times when, despite a patient’s best efforts to remain true to the highest ideals of nutrition and exercise, areas of contour deformity will develop that can only be addressed with plastic surgery. It should be pointed out, though, that patients are often better served by working with a nutritionist and personal trainer prior to undergoing plastic surgery rather than having the plastic surgery first and then reaching out to a trainer or nutritionist.
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