Five Things to Consider before Embarking on Cosmetic Surgery

What do you want to improve and to what degree?

It is important for the patient to know what she wants to improve. The majority of patients that I meet are clear about this. They will come in and say “I would like an upper eyelid crease” or “I would like a higher nose” or “I would like bigger breasts”. These patients are the patients we prefer. The patients we do not prefer are those who come in and say “what can you do for me?” and have no idea of what they want. This can lead to misunderstandings. Once the feature to be improved is identified, a good doctor will then try to establish, together with the patient, the degree to which the feature should be improved. A good example is the upper eyelid crease. In general, a big eye can accept a higher crease and a small eye a smaller crease. We should improve but keep the result natural.

Why are you doing the procedure ?

The majority of patients know why they are doing a procedure. Perhaps they want to look nicer and more striking. Perhaps they want to gain an edge when they are interviewing for jobs. Or, in the older patients, they want to look refreshed and take some years off. However, there are some patients who are doing the surgery for the “wrong” reasons. I have come across teenage patients who want to do a procedure to help overcome depression or poor self-esteem or to gain acceptance at school. Another lady wanted to do something because her husband had strayed. I usually ask these patients to take time before making their decision or to consult their parents or loved ones.

Understand the procedure and the risks involved

All aesthetic procedures, whether invasive or not, carry risks. Even “simple” ones. For example, Botox that is not applied correctly can lead to upper lid ptosis. But this is a rare and relatively minor complication. So, on balance, it is a rewarding procedure with low risk. The more invasive procedures will, in general, give better and more lasting results but may carry with them, higher risk of more severe complications. A good doctor will be careful to explain the pros and cons of each option to patient. Often, this results in us offering a spectrum of procedures to a particular patient. My advice to the patient is to listen to this explanation, understand the anticipated result, and measure the risks.

Understand the level of training and qualifications of the doctor/ surgeon

There are many providers in the field of aesthetics. These range from beauticians and aestheticians to non-specialist doctors, dermatologists and plastic surgeons. All these providers have a part to play in providing good aesthetic care for a customer or patient as it may be. It is a good idea to make sure that your provider has the requisite amount of training in accredited institutions and has the experience to perform the procedure that you intend to embark on. Was the training period for 2 days or 7 years? It is common for a patient to ask me about my credentials and ask to see pre- and post- operative results. This is wholly appropriate and should be part of the pre-op consultation.

Understand the pre- and post- operative preparation required for a procedure

It is common for a surgeon and his staff to give pre- operative and post- operative instructions to a patient. This is part and parcel of going through a procedure. Success in a procedure depends not only on the surgeon but is actually a partnership between the surgeon and the patient. The best patients are those who understand this and take charge of their recovery. This includes pre-operative fasting, stopping of certain medications pre-op, restrictions in activities and taking post-operative medications that the surgeon may advise.

Prepared by:
Dr. Andrew Khoo
Plastic Surgery
Aesthetic & Reconstructive Centre

Disclaimer: The views and opinions in the article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre (MEMC). The writer is fully responsible for the accuracy, completeness and usefulness of the information provided in the article. MEMC will not be liable for any errors, omissions or copyright issues with regard to the contents of the article.