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Interested in cosmetic surgery? Here’s how to get the best result

Choosing your cosmetic surgeon

Follow these seven points to make sure you and your surgeon are a good match.

  • Ask the surgeon how frequently he or she has performed the specific procedure you want. Look for a specialist in that procedure.
  • Consult more than one surgeon, if necessary, to find someone with whom you feel comfortable discussing your needs and expectations.
  • Don’t “bargain shop” or fall for gimmicks like rebates, discounts, premiums, gifts or similar incentives.
  • Never allow yourself to be talked into a procedure you don’t desire. The surgeon should let you suggest what you want and then advise you on what is or isn’t possible.
  • Beware if you’re told there are no risks involved in cosmetic surgery. All surgery entails some risks, and these should be discussed frankly.
  • Be skeptical of a doctor who avoids answering questions about his or her training and professional qualifications.
  • Realize that pre- and postoperative photos of the surgeon’s patients can help you understand the surgery, but such photos are no guarantee that your results will be similar. Likewise, “computer imaging” can’t predict exact results.

Many women opt to have cosmetic surgery for a firmer, fresher appearance. For most, these procedures don’t pose any special risks. In fact, as a result of advances in anesthesia and monitoring, many people are now able to undergo cosmetic surgery despite having medical conditions like hypertension. Because certain medical conditions require precautions before, during and after surgery, it’s important to be completely honest with your surgeon from the start. Here are some guidelines from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery that can help people of any age have safer cosmetic surgery. The guidelines apply especially to those over 50:

  1. Make sure your surgeon is reputable and qualified. Ask if your surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), which certifies physicians in plastic surgery. If the surgeon is not certified by the ABPS, ask how frequently he or she has performed the procedure you want and ask to speak with other patients he or she has treated.
  2. Be honest about your goals and expectations. Wanting to look and feel your best is a fine reason to have cosmetic surgery, but keep in mind that surgery won’t solve relationship problems. The surgeon can help you understand whether your motivations and expectations are realistic.
  3. Give a complete and accurate medical history. The surgeon may want you to have a preoperative physical exam with your personal physician. If you have a history of heart disease, the surgeon may also ask a cardiologist to evaluate your health. And if you have high blood pressure, the surgeon will definitely want to make certain that the condition is well controlled with medication.
  4. Tell your surgeon about any medications you are taking, even aspirin. Some drugs can cause excessive bleeding during surgery or affect healing. Others can be dangerous in combination with the anesthetic.
  5. Get the full story on all risks and potential complications. Your surgeon should help you understand whether the benefits outweigh the risks.
  6. Follow your doctor’s pre- and postoperative instructions. These may include quitting smoking or stopping certain medications prior to surgery. Among the many ill effects of smoking is a reduction of the blood supply to the skin. This can lengthen the healing process and sometimes leads to loss of skin during surgery.
    Some procedures, such as “tummy tucks” and other body surgery, involve more potential complications than surgery on the face or hands due to the risk of blood clots or fat entering the bloodstream. For these procedures, more preparation is required, such as getting involved in a program of regular walking before surgery, wearing special stockings or leg wraps and possibly taking mild doses of anticoagulant drugs.
  7. Allow enough time for recovery. Understand the full recovery process so you can schedule your surgery appropriately, and keep in mind that older patients may need longer than younger ones to recuperate.


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