What Plastic Surgery Can and Can’t Do

A Note From Dr. Richard J. Brown, Phoenix Plastic Surgeon

Let’s talk for a moment about expectations for cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery is any procedure that enhances one’s aesthetic appearance. Everyone in our office wants you to have a successful result. However, there are limits to what plastic surgery can do.

Each operation is designed to address and improve a specific concern that you might have. Plastic surgery can improve your appearance; it cannot change your life. I want to remind all of our patients that cosmetic surgery is not a miracle answer for all of life’s problems.

But there are specific problems that plastic surgery can solve. When you have your first consultation with me, I will ask you what you expect from your operation. We will then discuss at length what I believe you can reasonably expect from the procedure. Understanding what an operation can do for you is essential so that you will be pleased with your result. An unrealistic expectation before surgery is the most common cause of dissatisfaction after surgery.

Some procedures may require surgical revisions at a later date. These revisions could involve additional expense. I will discuss this with you if I feel further surgery may be necessary.

Because smoking affects wound healing, please tell me if you do smoke. There will be certain precautions we may have to take to insure a successful result from your surgery.

Please understand at the outset that no surgery is without scarring. No surgeon — no matter how skilled — can promise a total absence of scars. I will describe the location of all incisions during your consultation. In any cosmetic operation I try to place incisions so that the resulting scars are least noticeable. Inherent qualities of your skin, often genetically determined, may cause wider or more elevated scars. Infections and delayed healing may also contribute to increased scarring. Sometimes these scars can be made less obvious with a secondary surgical procedure.  It’s important for you to understand that while the popular press makes surgery seem routine, all surgical procedures carry some inherent risk.  Your consultation will include a discussion of possible complications so that you can make an informed decision regarding your surgery. I prefer to see and talk with my patients at least twice, when possible, before performing any surgery on them to make sure that we both agree on the expected results of the operation and that you understand the full course of treatment.