Steps You Can Take For A Better Surgical Outcome

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Steps You Can Take For A Better Surgical Outcome
-Win Pound, M.D.


When I was a resident, the general surgeons sneered at the plastic surgeons because they didn't consider cosmetic surgery to be “real” surgery. Early on in my practice, the TV show “Extreme Makeover” debuted. In this show, frogs were turned into princesses through the magic of cosmetic surgery. The show minimized the risks of cosmetic surgery and only offered a glance at the recovery period. The goal was to witness the wide eyes of friends and loved ones when the final transformation was revealed.

I actually wrote a letter to the American Society of Plastic Surgery complaining about their endorsement of “Extreme Makeover.” My point was that cosmetic surgery should be service oriented, not an entertainment industry. Whether you consider cosmetic surgery as “real” surgery or not, it is still surgery with inherent risks that go along with any type of surgery. Patients can actually die if cosmetic surgery is not performed correctly or performed by doctors who are not properly trained and certified.

So... what can you do to make yourself a better surgical candidate and improve your chances of obtaining a good result? It starts with research. Make sure that your doctor is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the only board approved by the American Medical Association for the training and certification of plastic surgeons. Make sure that your doctor has experience performing the procedure you are interested in. Look at before/after pictures. Talk to former patients. Finally, make sure that you like and trust your plastic surgeon. Will he be accessible afterwards if there is a problem or a complication, or will he simply shunt you off to a nurse or someone else in the office?

The nice thing about cosmetic surgery is that it is elective. You can get yourself in good medical shape as you plan for your procedure. If you have medical issues, they can be addressed beforehand. Remember your priorities – safety above vanity.

Your best result will come when you are at a proper weight which is stable. Gaining or losing weight following your surgery may affect your results. Stop smoking for at least two months before your procedure. This includes the use of the patch, e-cigarettes, etc. Nicotine causes the blood vessels to narrow which can delay blood supply to the operated tissues. Not only is the recovery usually more uncomfortable for smokers but there is a higher risk for tissue loss. Don't lie to your surgeon and tell him you have quit when you really haven't. He doesn't care if you smoke. That is a personal choice. He cares about the survival of the tissue and the outcome of your surgery. Finally, quit taking aspirin or ibuprofen (or anything containing these) for two weeks prior to surgery. Aspirin interferes with platelets which assist in blood clotting. Taking aspirin before surgery can result in more bruising, swelling, or bleeding.

As surgery goes, cosmetic surgery is relatively safe surgery. Still, it IS surgery with associated risks. By following these simple recommendations, you can help yourself decrease these risks and increase your chances for a great result.
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Atlanta Plastic Surgeon