A new movement has been swelling within health care for a few years now. Doctors are still treating urgent needs, of course, but many have begun to adopt more of a long-term perspective with their routine care, anticipating the needs and potential challenges of their patients months and even years down the road.
A plastic surgeon has always kind of functioned in a similar way.
Consider your own cosmetic needs. They’re different now from when you were in your twenties, right? Our priorities also evolve as we mature. While maintaining a beach-ready body may have steered a lot of your lifestyle choices in your twenties and thirties, that energy can shift in your forties to shedding that bit of persistent fat that seems to follow you everywhere like a shadow, or reversing the effects of sun damage.
Focused as you may be on any of those issues in the moment, or others, like undoing the toll a couple of pregnancies have taken on your body, a board-certified plastic surgeon is always considering the bigger picture, including how one procedure may negate or encourage another in the near future.
The cascade of effects
Plastic surgery has advanced to the extent that a 20-minute, minimally-invasive procedure can wipe away years from your face. As a result, it’s perceived as being far more proficient than it actually is, kind of like how our phones do a million things other than call. But the human body hasn’t changed. It remains an incredibly intricate and fluid interplay of features and expressions. Alter one tiny aspect and dozens of others will shift.
Here’s an example of what I mean: I’m consulting a patient on a breast lift. She’s done having kids and she’d like to restore some youthfulness to her breasts after so many years of breastfeeding. Trouble is, that breast lift will never meet her expectations if that’s all I do, because her breasts are also naturally asymmetrical. One nipple is significantly lower than the other, and a breast lift is only going to draw more attention to it, a trait she never realized until I noted it.
So, a plastic surgeon should always be aware of the cascade of effects that can occur as a result of any given procedure.
An objective observer
They’re also positioned to be an objective observer. Say you’re interested in a tummy tuck, but you haven’t completely ruled out having another child. They’ll be able to explain why it may be in your best interest to hold off and explore some less-invasive alternatives in the meantime. Likewise, they should also be trusted to tell you whether you’ve been over-scrutinizing those faint wrinkles at the corners of your eyes, or if the time’s come to do something about them.
Approach your first consultation with an eye toward it potentially developing into a long-term relationship, because that’s how your plastic surgeon will be viewing it. That’s not to say that it will. You may decide that the one procedure is enough for you. But just in case it does, that’ll be your incentive to look deeper, beyond the impressive credentials and years of experience.
Ultimately, what should matter most is rapport, because the plastic surgeon you can talk openly and honestly to is the one who will come to learn and anticipate your needs.