For many patients seeking repeated cosmetic surgeries, the query that should engage them and their cosmetic surgeons as well, is: how much is enough?

With many advances in science and techniques, the cosmetic surgeons are able to create aesthetic enhancements in most of the human body parts now, much to the patients’ satisfaction and joy.

It is possible now to have two or three surgeries together, like “mommy makeover“ procedures combining tummy tuck and breast lift. The patients are thus able to enjoy the combined results along with a common anaesthesia and recovery process.

While all these may sound like good news for the patients and the surgeons, this may not be the safest route for either one. Some patients tend to overdo and go for repeat plastic surgeries, even though they may not realistically need them. The reason could be excessive dependence or faith in the cosmetic procedures to deliver unrealistic returns. So, for such patients, the questions which need to be asked, are – Are your expectations reasonable? Are you starting to obsess? “

The American Society of Plastic surgeons (ASPS) reported that there were about 1.56 million cosmetic surgeries performed in 2010 (1.6 million in 2011) and  the business of €˜repeat’ patients from 2009 to 2010 grew by 13% which gives an indication of the volume of patients who do not restrict their requirement to just one surgery in a short time span.

There are several reasons why people go for repeat surgeries.

Some experts detect an addictive nature in cosmetic surgeries, when the patients get hooked by the results of a procedure as they enjoy what they see in the mirror and hear fulsome praises and compliments from others. They want to replicate the experience over and over again.

In earlier times, the general expectation was that people particularly women would look their best for a certain period of their lifetime and not necessarily would do so as they advance in years. Now peoples’ aspirations have changed and they want to look good almost “from the cradle to the grave.”

According to experts, for some young people or students looking good could be an intense desire. Beauty enhancement through cosmetic surgery appears to give them more happiness than getting a degree or a job and for some of them it is “more the merrier”.

For middle aged and older women facing natural loss of youthful looks and beauty, frequent cosmetic procedures are often the way to retain what they do not want to lose in their appearance.

Another reason for people going after repeat procedures is their inability to realistically assess their own bodies and to have realistic goals.

In some cases, patients go for a single procedure but return with the prospect of doing three or four more – a result of “up-selling” promising rebates for multiple procedures and credit plans. While many surgeons do not encourage this practice and turn away patients, there are surgeons who do not decline such practices.

Then there are people, about 2% of the population, suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) who are obsessed with minor or imagined flaws and may want to have surgery on the same body part repeatedly or are obsessive about getting five or more body parts enhanced.

There is no standard applicable to all patients to determine how much of cosmetic surgeries are good. It varies from one patient to the other. While it may be alright for some patients to get two or three procedures, for other patients getting one procedure may be one too many.

While there is general medical consensus that cosmetic surgeries do not pose much risk for healthy individuals, it is known that too much or repeated surgeries could pose health risks for a patient. For example, removal of too much fat by liposuction leads to risks such as dehydration induced shock, trauma  from a long procedure, infection and others , too many nose procedures may result in breathing problems and too many eye lifts may cause eye damage.

Obviously, the question arises as to who should determine how much or what type of cosmetic surgery is good and safe for an individual. This determination is important as otherwise the patients wanting repeat surgeries may endanger themselves both physically and mentally.

When the patients ask for repeat or more surgeries the surgeons have to assess the patients and their requirement carefully, sometimes along with other experts such as psychologists and to decline, if necessary. According to some experts, it is the cosmetic surgeon who has to ultimately decide and he has to make sure it is a reasonable operation and the patient has appropriate motivation and they know what they are getting into.

One thing is for sure, patients should select the safest route possible whenever they do cosmetic surgery. After all, these are elective procedures and the safest method should always be chosen. According to Colleyville Cosmetic Surgeon, Robert L. True, MD, “the Awake procedure are some of the safest forms of cosmetic surgery possible.” These eliminate risks of general anesthetics, so the potential risks of general surgery (DVTs and PEs) are essentially eliminated.

The Awake procedures also  limit the number of procedures to be performed in one day. Doing too many procedures on one day, such as Mommy Makeovers in one day, can be risky. Usually, when the Awake methods are chosen, only one procedure is performed per day. This further decreases risks and improves outcomes.

Awake cosmetic procedures include breast augmentation, breast lifts, liposuction, and tummy tucks. Minor facial cosmetic procedures can also be performed with the Awake method, such as blepharoplasty.

Minimally invasive procedures can be performed on a routine revular basis and could be the answer to those women who like to “maintain” their youthful appearance. These include Botox for forehead wrinkles, facial fillers for loss of volume, and CO2 laser resurfacing for fine lines, rough skin, pigmentations, lip wrinkles, and an overall more youthful appearing face. More information on these can be seen on Dr. True’s website.

[Source: This write up is based on the article “Extreme Plastic Surgery: How Much Is Too Much?” By Tammy Worth, June 22, 2012 WebMD Feature]