As the practice of cosmetic surgery has matured, plastic surgeons have improved current techniques, forging ahead with new innovations.
“Cosmetic surgery has undergone a very substantial and favorable evolution over the past 30 years,” says Dr. Timothy Miller, professor and chief of plastic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “As our techniques have evolved and become more refined, the results are increasingly better.”
Smart Business spoke with Miller about what to look for in a plastic surgeon, the most common forms of cosmetic surgery and how to prepare for an elective surgery.
How should people decide if cosmetic surgery is the best option for them?
They should talk to a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, or perhaps two, to get their opinion on the prospective operation. To me, it is somewhat worrisome when a patient comes in and asks, ‘What do you think?’ That places the burden directly on the plastic surgeon. Most plastic surgeons probably wouldn’t answer this question. What you want to know is the imagery in the patient’s mind. What does he or she see in the mirror? What feature does he or she want improved? It’s like the old adage, if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time. The plastic surgeon must see what the patient sees. You want to be sure that the patient has a relatively specific idea of what he or she wants to accomplish and then it’s up to the plastic surgeon to explain whether or not it can be done.
How should one go about selecting a qualified surgeon?
In any community, surgeons have reputations that are relatively well-known. In addition, they should be board-certified plastic surgeons, which means that they were trained in an accredited training program and they passed a written and oral exam. That vets out the most highly qualified individuals.
After that, patients need to ask questions to make a determination of whether or not the plastic surgeon is someone they can talk to, someone that they understand and someone that they feel understands what they want. The relationship should be comfortable and one of mutual trust.
What are the most common forms of cosmetic surgery?
Statistically, the most common forms would be liposuction, breast enlargements and breast reductions, facelifts, and eyelid surgery. But that is only a statistical breakdown; it really has to do with the age, sex and desires of the patient. For example, eyelid surgery to remove excess skin and fatty tissue is a very good operation for men because the scarring is quite minimal and it’s an outpatient procedure. After less than two weeks the bruising is usually gone and it provides excellent improvement, not only in appearance, but also how the eyes feel.
What risks are associated with cosmetic surgery and how can these risks be minimized?
The risks are very, very low if patients are selected appropriately and any serious medical problem is identified. If a pre-existing medical condition is severe enough, it should exclude the patient from having elective surgery. By and large, the risk of cosmetic surgery is extremely low in competent hands.
Also, the procedure should be done in an approved center so that the patient can be evaluated before surgery and is monitored very closely during surgery and in the recovery period.
How should one prepare for cosmetic surgery?
There are several things that you can do. Perhaps the most important preparation would be to stop smoking. It’s also probably the best piece of medical advice that anyone could ever receive, whether they’re having plastic surgery or not. It’s one of the worst things that you can do to your body and particularly your skin. There are innumerable studies that show the incidence of wrinkling is significantly higher in smokers, and in most cases, this is not reversible. It is a very damaging habit.
Other steps that should be taken also involve common medical sense: a good diet, multiple vitamins, not drinking alcohol in excess, exercising and not being overweight. These are all things that contribute to a better result in cosmetic surgery and probably a better lifestyle and longer life in general.
DR. TIMOTHY MILLER is professor and chief of plastic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. For more information, call (800) 825-2752 or visit the Website at www.uclaplasticsurgery.com.