As per statistics of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the number of cosmetic surgeries done in 2011 including the minimally invasive procedures was 13.8 million, a rise of 5% over the 2010 figure.

That cosmetic and plastic surgery is getting more popular and is taken up by people of all age groups in large numbers, is a well known fact. What may not be known yet is how much of this popularity is getting translated into satisfaction levels of the recipients of these procedures.

People turn to cosmetic surgeries to look and feel better and in doing so, expect to achieve improved quality of life, be it professional, social, family or love life. The cosmetic surgeries are not free nor are they fun to go through, considering the associated pain, discomfort, downtime and significant or sometimes large expenses. Yet people go through these procedures and if they fail to achieve good results or fall short of their expectations, major disappointment and unhappiness set in.

The results of cosmetic surgeries like all other medical procedures are never certain despite great scientific and technological advancement and expertise of the service providers since there are many variables enmeshed in the process. While there were many cases with good results, there were also cases where the results went from ‘not so good’ to bad.  There have been instances of people regretting their decisions to go for the surgery and others going for repeat surgeries to make up the deficiencies.

Ironically, the good results of cosmetic procedures are often mistaken as natural outcome and not noticed much, but the bad results stand out most of the time as un- natural with many extreme changes in the appearance including over-puffiness, tightened skin, frozen heads, static smile lines and others.

By being careful and making good choices, the patients have the ability to minimize the chances of bad results of cosmetic surgery. Some of these are:

Choose a qualified physician

In most of the states in America like in California a doctor having a medical license can carry out cosmetic surgery. They should be board certified in a surgical field but it is not necessary that he or she is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), one of the 24 groups forming the American Board of Medical Specialities (ABMS).

A patient should ensure that he/she selects a surgeon who is certified in one of the specialties accredited by the ABMS and has had sufficient training to be profecient in performing cosmetic surgery. Plastic surgeons boarded by the ABPS are not necessarily “cosmetic surgeons”. They do their residency primarily dealing with plastic and reconstructive surgery (such as reconstruction from mastectomy or car accidents). Many board certified physicians, including OB-GYN, general  surgery, ENT, and plastic surgeons must go through further training to become proficient cosmetic surgeons.

The patient should also “search the doctor’s name and specialized certification”. Some doctors having other ABMS specialty-board certifications for example, in gynecology, general surgery, dermatology, ophthalmology, otolaryngology (ear, nose &throat) may also be trained in certain procedures of cosmetic surgery.  It may be better to consult with three or more doctors before selecting one, but pick the one with whom you are most comfortable.

 Don’t be swayed by bargains 

Bargains and specials should not be your only decision factor. It is better to check all other important factors associated with the doctor and the services offered. The price must not be the only factor. However, if the price is good, the physician is good, the staff is good, and the feelings you have towards them are good, this creates a great combination for you.

Look for skill and artistry

It is not enough to select a surgeon just because he is board certified. The selected surgeon must be skilful and experienced in cosmetic procedures which often require artistry to fine tune results. The patient should look at the photos of work done by the surgeon, check with other patients who received similar treatment from him, verify his credentials and reputation through good research including direct queries to the surgeon, before deciding.

Communicate

The patient must convey to the surgeon about one’s expected results through discussions, by photographs and also convey about the kind of results one does not want to end up with. The best pick should be the physician who listens to your concerns and creates a plan to help you accomplish your desires.

Mind details and be conservative

A particular cosmetic procedure could be done using more than one technique and each technique may have merits and de-merits. For example, some can reduce scarring and some can avoid “pulled back or drawn look”. Also, there is the question of degree at which cosmetic enhancements are to be aiming.

There is always a fine line between ‘adequately done’ and ‘Over done’ and there is danger of bad result on account of overdoing.  In case of surgeries the results are permanent, including surgeries of breast augmentation, liposuction, abdominoplasty, blepharoplasty and facelifts. These are different than the well known minimally invasive choices, such as Botox , Juvederm and Restylane treatments lasting 3 to 12 months. The patient needs to give attention to details and to be conservative in giving choices to avoid bad results.

Have realistic expectations

Cosmetic surgeries may alter and improve appearances. But there are limits to what the procedures can achieve. Trying to overreach could lead to bad results. It is better to be conservative in setting the goals

[Source: This write up is sourced from the article “The good, bad, ugly” by Alene Dawson in Los Angeles Times Cosmetic Procedures Section dated April 15, 2012]