Cosmetic dermatology is a fast growing industry. In the public eye, it has changed from a risky and expensive proposition that was only a realistic option for aging Hollywood actors, to affordable anti-aging options for everyday persons who are concerned about maintaining a younger appearance.
Q: How risky are cosmetic procedures in terms of unsatisfactory results and medical complications?
A: This depends on many factors like the skill of the surgeon, the type and extent of the procedure itself, and the patient profile. In very general terms, due to the fast advancement of cosmetic dermatology in recent years, the relative risk of poor cosmetic results and medical complications, as well as the cost and availability are all significantly favorable compared to the past. Some tips to minimize the chance of disappointment include:
- Proper research about the surgeon-look for testimonials, before and after images, and credentials as well as their reputation. A surgeon’s skill and artistic sensibility play an essential role in predicting the result of any procedure.
- Communicate well and often with the performing doctor about your expectations, cost, recovery time, and the possibility of complications. Ask questions directly about possible risks; you should be able to trust your surgeon, and a trustworthy doctor should be happy to answer these questions straightforwardly.
- Stay healthy. In particular, stop smoking. Smokers are at increased risk of medical complications when performing any surgery that involves excision, and depending on the procedure, many surgeons will refuse to operate on smokers or those who have not stopped smoking before the operation.
Q: Will others know whether I’ve been through cosmetic surgery?
A: This depends mainly on the type of procedure that is performed. Large-scale procedures like a full facelift can promise significant and immediate changes in the entire face which are impossible to hide. Generally, surgeons are skilled at hiding scars from the incisions that are made during the procedure, but the sudden changes can be challenging to hide. Recovery time can also be significant for some of the major procedures. There are many surgical options that are more subtle and require little or no recovery time, and these are less obvious to friends and co-workers if that is a concern.
Q: How much does cosmetic surgery cost? Is it covered by insurance?
A: The costs of a surgical procedure depend on several factors. First, the type of procedure and extent of the procedure define the range of cost. Second, the location and local demand affect prices significantly. A procedure that is performed in a popular cosmetic clinic in downtown Manhattan will most likely cost more than a procedure performed in a less metropolitan area. Lastly, the performing clinic or surgeon’s reputation and past performance can affect costs. It’s important not to jump at the lowest bidder, as a result, can be semi-permanent, and if a second procedure is required to correct unsatisfactory results, it may end up costing more.
As a general rule, cosmetic procedures are not covered by most health insurance companies, as it is considered to be an elective procedure rather than a medical one. There are exceptions, however, especially if it is a procedure to correct a deformity from an accident or a disease. You will have to check your insurer for an accurate answer.
Q: I still feel uncomfortable “going under the knife.” Are there other ways to reverse aging that are more effective than applying anti-aging creams?
A: Yes. Soft procedures like Botox, injectable fillers, or chemical peels, lasers, and microdermabrasion which don’t require cutting are becoming increasingly popular in cosmetic dermatology. Some advantages include lower overall cost, generally lower risk, lower or non-existent recovery time, and results that are more subtle and natural.
Ask your surgeon or clinic for information about these procedures which lie somewhere between topical anti-aging creams and cosmetic surgery in terms of effectiveness, cost, and risk involved.
Q: How do I know which surgeon is best qualified or fits my needs?
A: First, ensure that your doctor is a board-certified dermatologist. Cosmetic surgery demands specialized skills, but also an artistic sensibility. Look for experience through past testimonials, or better, before and after pictures of previous patients. You want to look for a surgeon that shares your idea of beauty.
Finally, communicate with your surgeon. This process is paramount, as mutual trust and understanding are a critical part of the process. The surgeon has a responsibility to educate the patient about the risks, expectations, and possible scenarios, as well as the costs, and the patient has a responsibility to be ready, and understand the different aspects of the procedure such as cost, expectation, recovery time, and risks involved.