The past five years has seen a significant spike in the number of plastic surgery procedures performed in the United States. One of the most significant reasons has been Reality TV shows. From Nip Tuck to Dr. 90210, the public has been fascinated by plastic surgeons, the patients undergoing the procedures, and the actual surgery itself. As a result, they have flocked to plastic surgeons like never before.
One of the few, but significant, drawbacks to this ‘rush to the knife’ is the unintentional creation of unrealistic expectations. TV shows do not do justice to two basic issues of plastic surgery, potential risks and complications of the operations and that real recovery time is needed for most surgeries. TV shows, due to editing and the objective of presenting the best outcomes, speed up actual recovery times and never show any real complications. (they seem to be reserved for other TV show as Plastic Surgery Disasters on HBO, where the worst and most unusual problems have occurred) While I find most patients do have an appreciation for the risk of complications and recovery time, the TV shows and mass media suppress these undesireables. It is incumbent on the day-to-day, ‘non-actor’ plastic surgeon to bring the patient back into the real reality circle.
The true Reality of Plastic Surgery, where more than 95% of patients have good results without any significant complications, is that 5% of patients do have problems or end up with a result that is less than their preconceived objectives. It is important for both plastic surgeon and patient alike to focus a significant part of the discussion prior to surgery on realistic expectations, what problems/complications can occur, and how they will be managed if they happen. This appearingly ‘negative’ aspect of presurgical consultation must be done to balance the euphoria and emotional high that many patients exeperience as they get excited about their surgery. This is what is part of a complete consultation. If your plastic surgeon does not spend time discussing these issues, go back for a second consultation to get the whole story. If that is still not satisfying, find another plastic surgeon. Until you are comfortable with the risks of surgery, do not undergo it.
Dr Barry Eppley