Secrets I’ve Learned about Plastic Surgery
As a patient and obesity activist, I’ve spent roughly the last 2-years immersed in bariatric plastic surgery. So much has been learned through my plastic surgery journey and the patient journeys that I’ve been privileged to be part of, as well as through my discussions with plastic surgeons and other professionals in the business who very candidly gave me the inside scoop on plastic surgery. I’ve taken the many secrets I’ve learned through these discussions and distilled them into 18 Insider Tips on Plastic Surgery so as to help you become a further informed and empowered patient.
You aren’t “buying a procedure.“
A body lift plastic surgery can vary significantly from surgeon to surgeon. That is because plastic surgeons have different techniques. For example, one plastic surgeon may plicate the rectus abdominus muscle while another may plicate both the rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus muscles. Any plastic surgery procedure — butt lifts, thigh lifts, breast lifts, arm lifts — can be executed differently from plastic surgeon to surgeon. Know your options and what you are buying.
You’re “buying a plastic surgeon.”
It is absolutely critical that you choose a plastic surgeon with deep experience in restoring the structures of massive weight-loss patients. These surgeries are not “mommy makeovers” that we are getting post-partum. We, as formerly obese patients, are correcting much more complex issues and present as tougher cases for plastic surgery.
Some plastic surgeons up-sell procedures.
Plastic surgery is a highly competitive field. Some surgeons will recommend plastic surgery procedures that you do not need. Often this is a matter of difference of opinion or technique from plastic surgeon to surgeon; however, sometimes the need to make money underlies a plastic surgeon’s recommendations. Do your research and get at least three consults with different plastic surgeons. Get as many consults as you need, in fact, until you find the right plastic surgeon for you. FYI: the average income for a plastic surgeon is $400,000.00+ (source Doximity); that’s more than an oncology surgeon earns in a year.
There’s lots of heavy marketing in plastic surgery.
From glitzy websites and fancy names for procedures, to spa-like practices and charming bedside manners, there is a lot of heavy marketing behind plastic surgery. As noted above, plastic surgery is a highly competitive field, and it is a business like any other business. The practice must make money. Don’t be taken in by the hype. Be sure to choose your plastic surgeon based on what matters: training, credentials, experience, and results
Some plastic surgery practices post fake reviews.
Whether some plastic surgery practices are posting fake good reviews about themselves or fake bad reviews about competitors, underhanded tactics do sometimes go on. It is a good idea to speak to patients personally, even if it is through online correspondence, and get as many personal recommendations as possible. As well, consider deeply the weight of evidence: Reviews that contain detailed accounts and photos of the patient’s journey, as well as active participation on the review site by that patient are significantly more credulous than one-off reviews.
Some plastic surgery practices have bad reviews removed.
Many “plastic surgery reviews” websites require a court order by a judge to remove reviews and comments. However, some sites don’t have such high standards in place and remove negative reviews at the surgeon’s request. At best, this is very misleading. As noted above, get as many persona recommendations as possible by corresponding with patients directly.
Some patients post fake reviews, or are overly critical.
Review sites don’t have a way to verify if patient plastic surgery reviews are completely accurate. If possible, contact the patient through private messaging and get more information. Another good idea is to look at the plastic surgeon’s cumulative reviews. Do remember that no one is perfect; plastic surgeons are bound to have some negative reviews amongst the good. The most trust-worthy patient reviews are those which accurately portray the triumphs and the challenges of their plastic surgery experience. Add to that, the patient must have realistic expectations of what plastic surgery will give to them.
Writing a negative plastic surgery review is not defamation.
Defamation is lying. You may exercise your right to post truthful accounts of what happened to you, that includes the good, the bad, and the very ugly. You also may share your scathing opinion about the plastic surgeon or plastic surgery staff or facility. Opinions are not defamatory. People have an absolute right to express whatever opinions they like about other people. Understand that defamation only can be decided by a judge.
Your plastic surgery results may differ.
It is best to ask your plastic surgeon to show you before and afters of patients whose bodies and circumstances match your composition. Don’t look at a breast augmentation done on a 22-yo female that desired larger breasts and expect the same results if you are a 40-yo massive weight loss woman needing a lift and implants. Look at results from someone the same body type, height, weight, age, and medical history as you. Even so, be aware that your scarring may be very different from someone else who had the same procedure with the same surgeon. The darker your complexion the greater the tendency is for darker scars.
You may have severe mood swings.
The thought of these big surgeries and long recoveries can scare the daylights out of patients. You may see a side of your personality that you never even knew existed. From heart palpitations to full on panic attacks, your emotions may run wild before plastic surgery just as mine did. As well, you may experience emotional ups and downs after plastic surgery. Try to gain support from patients who’ve already been through it on community sites like BariatricPal, RealSelf and ThinnerTimes.
We are more prone to plastic surgery complications.
Although we’ve lost massive amounts of weight, our bodies are metabolically obese forever. We eat healthy and exercise, but our bodies are unlike those that have always been of normal weight. Our bones may be denser. Our rib cage may be deeper. Our breasts may hang lower even after a lift. Our skin may have less elasticity. And, we are more prone to complications.
Plastic surgery complications can and do happen.
As stated above, we are more prone to plastic surgery complications. We also generally need extensive surgeries to restore our bodies. Even the most brilliant plastic surgeon and the most compliant patient can have complications after plastic surgery. It happened to me. And it can happen to you. Set aside an extra 20% of the cost of your planned plastic surgery to cover possible complications or revisions.
Malpractice suits are for severe damage.
It is common for plastic surgeons to face several malpractice suits across their careers but rather uncommon that they are successfully sued. Understand that minor or even moderate plastic surgery complications can and do happen, as stated above. Because it takes years and a lot of money to prosecute a medical malpractice case, attorneys generally take only those cases in which severe damage was done or the plastic surgeon truly failed to provide the normal standard of care. In other words, the plastic surgeon was grossly negligent. Be aware that the malpractice insurance’s lawyers specialize in defending against claims, so you need a very good attorney to represent you — such as a law firm specializing in medical malpractice in Pittsburgh. And that law firm should be working on a contingency fee (only gets paid if your case is won). Note that there is a time limit on when you can file.
You may file a lawsuit in civil court for lesser damages.
A civil suit against your plastic surgery practice might include intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, civil battery, patient-physician boundary violations, failure to keep accurate records, breach of physician fiduciary trust, and a host of ethics violations. A jury decides the verdict and monetary compensation. Note that there is a time limit on when you can file.
You may report your plastic surgeon to the authorities.
Authorities include the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the American Medical Association (AMA), the state licensing board, and the state division of consumer affairs. In addition, HIPAA issues can be brought to the Office of Civil Rights and fines assessed by the government. Note that there is a time limit on when you can file, and you will not receive any monetary compensation from these agencies.
There’s no recourse if your plastic surgery is done outside the U.S.
It is not possible for you to sue a plastic surgeon outside the US in our judicial system. Add to that, if your plastic surgery takes place outside the country it also makes it very hard for you to get treatment for complications or any follow-up care. Many U.S. plastic surgeons will not handle complications from a surgeon outside the U.S. Are you going to fly to see your surgeon for treatment? And those U.S. plastic surgeons who are willing to treat you, will charge you as a new patient, whereas complications are normally treated by your plastic surgeon at no cost for his/her services.
A plastic surgeon cannot be an expert in everything.
Beware of plastic surgeons who list lots of procedures on his or her website. A plastic surgeon cannot be an expert in so many procedures. The most important thing you can ask the plastic surgeon for each plastic surgery procedure you are considering is “How many have you done and how often are you doing them?
Plastic surgeons are people first.
Most plastic surgeons whom I’ve met are caring people who want to help patients. Their feelings tend to be sensitive. So try to be respectful to their emotions just as you would a friend or family member when having difficult discussions about your plastic surgery results or plastic surgery complications or the plastic surgeon’s staff. It is always best if these difficult conversations can be had heart-to-heart rather than involving the authorities, when possible. In fact, one of the criteria to consider when selecting a plastic surgeon is do you feel comfortable talking to this person just as you would a friend?
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life