Ensuring an Optimal Surgery Experience

Kristina Tansavatdi, MD
Article by
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon

To some degree, cosmetic surgery is an art as a well as a science. The results are not only dependent upon the skill and experience of the surgeon, but they also depend on the your ability to communicate to the surgeon what you want. In other words, no two facelifts, nose surgeries, ear surgeries, etc. are the same. Each procedure must be individualized and customized to bring a result as close to how you wish to look as possible.

For this reason, it is very important for you to help your surgeon understand what you have pictured in your head. If you want surgery to restore a more youthful appearance, photos of you at a younger age can be very helpful, especially if the photos define the areas that you would like restored. For example, if a facelift is desired, photos that show you before wrinkles and sagging in the lower portion of the face occurred will help us to provide a more fine-tuned outcome. Ideally, show photographs at various stages of your life.

If you have suffered a broken nose, for example, and wish to restore it to its previous appearance, photos that show the original shape and structure of your nose can provide a guide for your surgeon to follow.

You may, of course, not seek to restore your appearance, but instead to enhance it. In this case, photos of others will be the most helpful. This is similar to going to a hairdresser with photographs of hairstyles that you want to copy. Of course, plastic surgery is infinitely more complex than hairstyling, and you won’t look exactly like someone else. Nevertheless, photos of people who have certain features that you wish to emulate in some way can help your surgeon create the same visual in their mind as you have in your mind.

Naturally, during your consultation, your surgeon will advise what is possible, what is ill-advised or not possible, and what is recommended. The surgeon will also tell you if there are any anatomical or surgical limitations that would prevent the exact result you want. It is important that you have a realistic expectation of the surgery. No one can be made to look identical to a celebrity, for example, nor can a 60-year-old restore his or her appearance to exactly as he/she looked at the age of 25.

Looking for photos may involve some research on your part, but the rewards of that time and effort will be well worth it.

Surgeries Are As Unique As Snowflakes

Just think about how no two faces look exactly the same. Two people can get a facelift, for example, and while the procedures will focus on the same portion of the face, they will be very different based on each person’s facial structure, signs of aging, and desires. Even the specific placement of incisions and sutures may vary between one facelift and another or one neck lift and another.

The surgeon will make decisions based on what is most advantageous for you in terms of achieving the best results and keeping any scars out of sight as much as possible. These decisions are made, in large part, based on what your surgeon learns from you about your expectations and wishes.

In some cases, you may not be completely clear as to which procedure will bring about the best results. Therefore, telling the doctor, “I want eyelid surgery” may not be as effective as showing the doctor a photograph and pointing out in the mirror what you want to change about your appearance. Your surgeon may then suggest an entirely different procedure in order to achieve the desired outcome. Some patients may benefit more from a midface lift or a partial facelift than a full facelift, for instance. With photographs to help the doctor visualize what you have in mind, the best procedure can be chosen to ensure that optimal surgery experience.

Nose and ear surgery are two of the most individualized procedures. The nose can be reshaped to a large degree to your specifications, so your surgeon needs to have a precise picture in mind as to what you want. Again, there are limitations, but there are also frequently a range of possibilities available to you.

Correcting ears in an otoplasty procedure could not be more individual. The ears can be deformed, injured, or simply stick out more than you would like. It is easy to understand how such a procedure would need to be highly customized, but it is important for you to realize that every plastic surgery procedure is unlike any other.

Therefore, remember to be as involved in your future surgery as much as possible, and if you are consulting with a surgeon regarding a cosmetic procedure, you can help yourself and your doctor by providing as much information – both verbal and visual – as you can.