Trusting Your Plastic Surgeon

It’s a matter of trust…

More than the title of an old Billy Joel song, probably the most important concept in selecting an aesthetic surgeon for any procedure, or actually any doctor for that matter is an ability to trust that person. This may seem like a simple, or perhaps obvious concept, but is actually when you think about it, the pillar that any other concept, including technique choice, results, and safety are founded.

Because of this importance, I will focus today’s discussion on “trust”. The ability to trust is something that comes naturally to many of us. We trust that when a stanger provides directions to us on the road, he/she is giving us the best information to his or her knowledge. We trust that a local restaurant with a good reputation will provide us with a safe and good meal for a fair cost.

Big Procedures, Big Decisions

When it comes to big ticket items, or making decisions where the risks seem high, there can be more anxiety related to the decision process, and trust can become more difficult to achieve. Making decisions about surgical or even non-surgical procedures for facial aesthetics can be particularly challenging.

In my opinion, this anxiety is due to a trust deficit by the public for aesthetic surgical procedures in general. Why? It begins with the celebrity disastrous outcomes, horror stories we all hear about in the media and people with overdone or poorly performed procedures walking down the street. I think many people who might consider even basic procedures are frightened away because of the very real fear of ending up like these above listed individuals. It is not infrequent for me to have a discussion during an initial consultation to help allay some of these concerns. Simply saying, “trust me, that won’t happen” is not enough. A more thoughtful approach is required to build trust, and I will outline the specifics of what we do here:

What to Look For in a Surgeon You Trust

First, raw honesty and straightforwardness is the foundation for an effective, trusting, doctor-patient relationship. Standard marketing practices of trying to increase sales by convincing people to do more, or to commit to procedures using pushy tactics have absolutely no role in our practice. It also is the surgeon’s responsibility to reliably and openly discuss outcome expectations, risk of failure or complications, as well as their own background and experience. It is appropriate for the surgeon to explain in detail how commonly discussed deformities can be completely avoided (i.e. over-botoxed forehead or pulled facelift look) with the the use of superior techniques. It is also important to build a trusting relationship by sometimes coming up with a plan that starts people off with more limited procedures before building to more extensive ones. Finally, the best surgeons know there is a time when a procedure should not be done on an individual, either due to actual technical or tissue problems, or even when they are aware that expectations can not be met. These difficulties should be discussed openly and honestly in consultation, and appropriate alternatives including doing nothing can always be discussed. Honest matching of a surgeon’s sophistication and skill level at any particular procedure can be an an important contributor to a real sense of trust as well. For example, a surgeon may explain how while some of a patient’s complaints fall under their prime area of expertise, a specific component may be better handled by a colleague in another specialty.

These principles of trust are essentially founded upon a basic concepts of being a good person. I think it is as simple as that…I strive to be an empathetic, well trained and responsible individual who is continuously seeking to improve upon aesthetics, techniques, and education. To me, the concepts described in this article build more positivity than drawing in clients using flashy marketing techniques.

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