Is Botox worth it? What about a facelift procedure? If you are considering a cosmetic procedure, you have all the choices, which means that you are also responsible for making good decisions. You are faced with complex decisions about risk and reward, while you may not have all the information available.
Patients have more choices today, which means that they are responsible for more decisions. When it comes to elective procedures, patients are ultimately responsible for their decision, starting with whether to undergo any procedure, where to have the procedure done, and who the performing dermatologist or surgeon will be. The experts can provide the patient with important and relevant information like cost, risk factors, and likely outcome, but the ultimate decision will always rest with you.
The onus of doing the proper research and assessing the relevant factors and what’s important to you falls on you, which can sometimes feel overwhelming. While most offices that offer cosmetic procedures will be well trained in helping patients make smart decisions, you must be fully engaged in the decision-making. Your best interests may not align with their best interests, and you need to be aware of this. The main factors that you need to juggle as a patient are cost, risk, and reward.
Cost of Procedures:
Since cosmetic procedures are paid for by the patient with very few exceptions, the cost is one of the most important considerations. It may sound straightforward, but the cost can be more complicated than just looking at the procedure’s immediate price.
- Longevity – How long does the procedure last?
Botox is a powerful treatment that can make incredible improvements (or subtle ones, depending on what you prefer) to your appearance, but they don’t last very long, between 6-12 months. If you seek re-treatment for a $500 Botox injection over 10 years, it may cost you $5000 to $10000. A different procedure like a facelift may be a much more expensive procedure in terms of up-front costs, but the effects are much longer-lasting. Over a decade, the price may be comparable or even cheaper than Botox.
- Satisfaction – If a procedure is not to your liking, what happens?
Cosmetic procedures have been very controlled and safe for the last decade, but sometimes the patient will not like the end cosmetic result. This may be a mismatch with expectations, poor communication with the doctor, an error, or lack of skill on the performing doctor’s part (always look for samples of their work). If the results don’t meet your expectations, are there provisions like a discount on the re-treatment, and when does this apply? Seek clarification.
- Location – Have you considered where to get your procedure done?
The cost of procedures can vary widely based on geographic location (more in Hollywood or New York, compared to a small city). Remember that for private procedures, you are effectively paying for the support staff, marketing, and rent for the property, and all other costs.
Considering the Risks:
There are two kinds of risk. The first is the risk of adverse events, like an allergic reaction to a filler ingredient or some other accident during cosmetic surgery. These are very rare today, but still a possibility. The more common risk, however, is the risk of unsatisfactory results or unmet expectations. While cosmetic dermatologists do their best, satisfaction isn’t always guaranteed. It’s important to consider and discuss the unlikely scenarios with your physician.
- How risky is the procedure?
Not every procedure is the same. A Botox injection is not the same as a facelift. Do your research and ask your doctor about the risks.
- Are you a high-risk patient?
Various factors affect patient risk. Population risk is not the same as individual risk. Age, general health, lifestyle, the presence or absence of chronic medical conditions, and smoking all affect risk.
- What are your expectations? Have you looked at the cosmetic dermatologist’s past work?
Discuss what you can expect and how often the results will fall within that expectation.
Rewards of the Procedure:
The true value of a procedure is entirely subjective. Is it worth the risk and the cost? These are questions that only you can answer.
- How important is it for me?
Only you know what a procedure and its expected results are worth. For some people, cosmetic procedures have little or even no value, and they are fine and happy with their appearance.
- Is another procedure better suited to your needs?
One procedure may be good, but another might be even better. Your cosmetic dermatologist or plastic surgeon will, in many cases, offer a variety of possible treatments or enhancements, depending on what it is that you want. Remember that a good cosmetic dermatologist should be your partner in realizing your goals and not an aggressive salesperson.
- Can you define your goals?
The clearer your goals, the better your surgeon can help. Don’t say, “I want to look younger.” What feature is it that you most want to change, and what changes are you looking for?
Assessing Risk and Reward
When making a decision, both the risk and the reward have a factual component and a value component. To take an example, we all know that acne sucks. It has a measurable impact on the quality of life, but how severe it is and how it affects you is unique to you as an individual. Some people will hardly care about the occasional acne, while others will be devastated. This element is subjective, and it’s a part of why some people think that Accutane is a great drug, while others will decide that the risk of potentially serious side-effects (no matter how unlikely) isn’t worth it. They could both be right.
Then there is the factual side. It only takes an online search to look up the key elements of risk and reward for a given procedure. Research on your own before you see anyone about a cosmetic procedure. After all, it’s your money and your appearance. However, understand that you only get part of the relevant facts online. While online research will give you an idea about population risk, it won’t give you an accurate sense of your personal risk. The same thing could be said of the upside – your facial features are unique to you, and you need to consult your dermatologist or surgeon to get all of the relevant facts. Whether they are prescribing drugs or performing cosmetic procedures, your doctor will have previous experience and be aware of typical outcomes, both from an academic and statistical standpoint (clinical trials) and from clinical and personal experience. You can’t make good decisions unless you have the correct facts.
While we make decisions every day, we often think differently when it comes to medicine, defaulting to the opinion of doctors. This isn’t without reason, as they are specialized experts in health care while you are most likely not. However, when it comes to cosmetic procedures, you need to step up and take a more active role to maximize the chance of getting the best results. Take some time to focus on exactly what you want, what you’re willing to pay, and what (if any) risks may be involved in the process, or if there are alternatives to get similar or better results.