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Patient Satisfaction

January 26th, 2010

What cosmetic surgeries rated highest in patient satisfaction? has published a list of cosmetic procedures ranked on whether patients think having a particular procedure was worth it, based on patients answering their survey question, Was your cosmetic surgery or treatment worth it?

While the ranking of patient satisfaction for various cosmetic surgery procedures is debatable, I find that there are definitely favorites.   For my own practice, breast enlargement and liposuction patients seem to be quite pleased with their decision to have cosmetic surgery.  The survey came up with different conclusions.   Maybe the ranking by merely represents overall patient satisfaction, without taking into account the quality or training of the physician or technician performing the surgery or treatment.

According to the survey, the top two procedures, tummy tucks and breast reductions are rated at the top.   They are almost always done by board certified plastic surgeons.   The bottom two procedures, Veloshape and mesotherapy, are almost never done by board certified plastic surgeons.   As you move from top to bottom on this list, the percentage of each procedure done by board certified plastic surgeons becomes less and less.   For instance, tumescent liposuction, Smart Lipo, liposculpture, liposuction and Vaser lipo, are all done by board certified plastic surgeons, as well as general surgeons, dermatologists, head and neck surgeons (otorhinolaryngologists), family doctors, and gynecologists.   In fact you can probably get some type of liposuction done by any medical or surgical subspecialist.   Obviously, the medical training in such a wide spectrum of surgical providers can be extremely variable.   The survey overlooked this important factor.

My own bias concludes that training is paramount when choosing a physician. Plastic surgery residency is intensely focused on aesthetics of the body and face and the sculptural aspects of surgery.   In addition, the medical students who are most often drawn to a plastic surgery residency have both an aptitude and intense interest in the artistic aspects of surgery.   Therefore, I believe that a key factor in patient satisfaction is to understand the qualifications of the person doing your surgery or treatment.  However, as with all physicians, plastic surgeons do have dissatisfied patients, a fact of life in the practice of medicine in general.   Choose wisely.


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What My Mother Taught Me

May 12th, 2009

Almost twenty years ago a 73 year old woman approached me regarding upper eyelid surgery.   She had lost her husband some 5 years prior.    Having completed her grieving, she was ready to become socially active again.   I knew she had grown up during the Great Depression on a farm in western Pennsylvania.   She had been a nurse while her deceased husband had been an iron worker for 30 years.   Their entire life had been very frugal and simple.   They had retired to Yuma, Arizona.

She had a minor heart condition and needed cataract surgery.  I didn’t believe cosmetic surgery was  “right” for her,  so I insisted she proceed with cataract surgery.  She completed cataract surgery in both her eyes, following all the after-care instructions.   In the interim, she began talking about not only eyelid surgery but also face lift, forehead lift and lip chemical peels.   She finally insisted on having cosmetic surgery after I had deflected her request some three years earlier.   Now she wanted it all, if I didn’t do it she would go elsewhere!

I took her aside and said, “Mother, I think I understand.  Here is what we can do and it will take some time.”   Over the next year or two my mother had the works, one procedure at a time.   She is now 93 years old and has been sharing her life with a younger man (85 years old) for the past 19 years.  It was having a new man her her life that had kindled her desire to ditch the wrinkles.  She not only looked younger, but she also had a renewed interest in living life.

This experience taught me many things.  Age is a relative term and it is unclear why something starts to bother us, when it hasn’t been an issue before.  Life changes may contribute to embracing new perspectives and perhaps lead to actively seeking some type of transformation.  You are never too old to want to look your best!

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