Each year over one-half million people in the United States have surgery to improve their appearance. Yet, the average person knows little about this type of plastic surgery.
The purpose of this blog is to familiarize those considering such operations with some facts about them prior to discussion of the individual problem. Cosmetic plastic surgery can often improve the appearance by correction of deformed or unsightly facial features and disfigurements and by eliminating some of the conspicuous marks of age.
However, a prerequisite for undergoing such surgery is a sense of realism born of emotional maturity. The following are some facts that should be accepted in advance of any of the cosmetic operations discussed herein.
First, every patient is not a good candidate for surgery for one reason or another; nor is every patient who requests cosmetic surgery accepted for operation.
Secondly, the goal of the operation should be improvement in appearance, not perfection. If the patient is seeking absolute perfection, he/she should not have cosmetic surgery.
Thirdly, a surgeon is a doctor, not a magician. The degree of success depends not only on his skill and experience but on the age, health, skin texture, bone structure, and the specific problems of the patient, all widely variable factors. In other words, he is limited by the materials given him to work with; for example, a girl who is basically not pretty cannot be turned into a ravishing beauty by a nose job operation.
Fourth, the motive that impels a person to seek surgical aid should be realistic. Plastic surgery is not a panacea or a cure-all for all the problems one might have. The resulting improvement in appearance may be psychologically beneficial as a result of bringing increased self-satisfaction and self-confidence. However, it will not solve all of one’s problems, particularly if an individual blames his/her appearance for lack of success in life; nor will the patient receive universal approval from family, friends and acquaintances after the surgery has been performed. Furthermore, a surgeon often cannot match what the patient has in mind in connection with the operation requested; it may be that the goal of the patient is unattainable surgically or would be unaesthetic if it were achieved.
Fifth, while there is usually a relative minimum of pain and only minor incapacity and un-comfortableness following cosmetic surgery, one must be mature enough to be prepared to accept what little there is and realize that it is only temporary.
Sixth, every surgical procedure, even such a simple one as the extraction of a tooth, entails some degree of risk both in terms of complications and in the sense that the results may not match one’s expectations. The patient should realize this and be willing to accept it.
Seventh, it would be unethical for any physician to guarantee the results of any treatment he renders or operation he performs. Therefore, no surgeon can guarantee the results of any cosmetic operations; he can only do the best he can to help the patient.
Eighth, all wounds heal by scar formation, a process over which a surgeon has but little control after the operation had been performed. This explains some of the changes that occur as healing progresses.
Ninth, fees for cosmetic surgery, inasmuch as it is purely elective, are payable in advance of surgery. Should the surgery be cancelled for some reason, they will be refunded.
As a general rule, insurance companies will not entertain claims for surgery performed solely for cosmetic purposes. Sometimes they do when cosmetic improvement is the by-product of a procedure, or part of it, performed to improve function, relieve symptoms, or repair the effects of injury. We will be happy to fill out your claim forms after surgery and provide copies of the operative record if your company requests them. However, we would like to emphasize two things. One, we are not a party to the contract which exists between you and your insurance company; consequently, the company is responsible to you, not to us; likewise, patients, not their insurance carriers are responsible for any charges incurred. Two, it is not possible to fill out insurance forms so that it appears the work done, or part of it, was not for cosmetic purposes if, indeed, it was.