Contemplating plastic surgery?
A checklist before having one
With the proliferation of many beauty and anti-ageing options nowadays, ageing gracefully becomes a cinch. From creams, diets and exercises, to lasers and surgeries, the means to hold ageing at bay are endless and effortless. All you need to do is care enough about your body to do something about it – be it changing your eating habits, enrolling in a gym, buying that expensive eye cream or considering a facelift.
Choosing which path you may want to take in order to look good or combat ageing all depends on you. The key is to know what you want and the risks and amount of hard work involved. For some, creams and lotions do the deed just fine, but for others, plastic surgery is a good option.
Whether you want to have a procedure as simple as eye bag removal, or the more complicated breast lift, you need to get all the information you need before you actually agree to have plastic surgery. Dr Andrew Khoo, Plastic and Aesthetic Surgeon at Aesthetic & Reconstructive Centre in Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, gives us a lowdown on what we need to consider before embarking on cosmetic surgery.
Five things to consider before embarking on cosmetic surgery by Dr Andrew Khoo
1 Be specific about what you want to improve and to what degree.
It is important for the patient to know what he or she wants to improve. The majority of patients that I meet are clear about this. They will come in and say “I would like an upper eyelid crease” or “I would like a higher nose” or “I would like bigger breasts”. These patients are the patients we prefer. The patients we do not prefer are those who come in and say “what can you do for me?” and have no idea of what they want. This can lead to misunderstandings.
Once the feature to be improved is identified, a good doctor will then try to establish, together with the patient, the degree to which the feature should be improved. A good example is the upper eyelid crease. In general, a big eye can accept a higher crease and a small eye a smaller crease. We should improve but keep the result natural.
2 Do the surgery for the right reasons.
The majority of patients know why they are doing a procedure. Perhaps they want to look nicer and more striking. Perhaps they want to gain an edge when they are interviewing for jobs. Or, in the older patients, they want to look refreshed and take some years off. However, there are some patients who are doing the surgery for the “wrong” reasons. I have come across teenage patients who want to do a procedure to help overcome depression or poor self-esteem or to gain acceptance at school. Another lady wanted to do something because her husband had strayed. I usually ask these patients to take time before making their decision or to consult their parents or loved ones.
3 Understand the procedure and the risks involved.
All aesthetic procedures, whether invasive or not, carry risks, even “simple” ones. For example, Botox that is not applied correctly can lead to upper lid ptosis. But this is a rare and relatively minor complication. So, on balance, it is a rewarding procedure with low risk. The more invasive procedures will, in general, give better and more lasting results but may carry with them, higher risk of more severe complications. A good doctor will be careful to explain the pros and cons of each option to patient. Often, this results in us offering a spectrum of procedures to a particular patient. My advice to the patient is to listen to this explanation, understand the anticipated result, and measure the risks.
4 Know the level of training and qualifications of the doctor/surgeon.
There are many providers in the field of aesthetics. These range from beauticians and aestheticians to non-specialist doctors, dermatologists and plastic surgeons. All these providers have a part to play in providing good aesthetic care for a customer or patient as it may be. It is a good idea to make sure that your provider has the requisite amount of training in accredited institutions and has the experience to perform the procedure that you intend to embark on. Was the training period for two days or seven years? It is common for a patient to ask me about my credentials and ask to see pre- and post-operative results. This is wholly appropriate and should be part of the pre-op consultation.
5 Understand the pre- and post-operative preparation required for a procedure.
It is common for a surgeon and his staff to give pre- operative and post- operative instructions to a patient. This is part and parcel of going through a procedure. Success in a procedure depends not only on the surgeon but is actually a partnership between the surgeon and the patient. The best patients are those who understand this and take charge of their recovery. This includes pre-operative fasting, stopping of certain medications pre-op, restrictions in activities and taking post-operative medications that the surgeon may advise.
Dr Andrew Khoo is Specialist Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon at Aesthetic & Reconstructive Centre,
Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre & Parkway East Medical Centre.