Every plastic surgeon in training is cautioned to avoid patients with “unrealistic expectations”, but what are they and doesn’t everyone have them at some time?
Is it the woman who expects to look like her wedding photos and get back her husband’s affections if only she had her facelift and eyelids done?
Is it the businessman who expects to get the promotion he’s been repeatedly passed over for if only his eyelid surgery makes him look young enough?
Is it the young woman, recently divorced, that expects her social life to improve if only she just had larger breasts?
Is it the young male who shoots his plastic surgeon when his rhinoplasty fails to bring him the expected changes in his popularity and dating?
Obviously, it’s all of them but whose fault is this failure of communication?
Is it the busy surgeon who doesn’t take the time to ferret out the patient’s secret motives for having the surgery, only their goals and their suitability for the procedure? Or is it the patient’s fault for hiding their true expectations for fear that the surgeon either won’t do the surgery or worse will ridicule them?
Perhaps, it’s both their faults.
Genuine dialog would go a long way toward solving the conundrum of “unrealistic expectations”. Consider these questions both as a surgeon and a patient.
- What would you like to change?
- Why would you like to make those changes?
- What will be different in your life with those changes?
Even if your surgeon doesn’t ask them, you can ask yourself those questions and give the answers to your surgeon. Is there such a thing as too much communication when you’re talking about changing your body?
The young man in the example above is real. Had his true intentions been known, he would likely have received psychological counseling and perhaps even have gone on to a better life, certainly one better than spending it in prison.
The other gentleman above might have taken some self-improvement courses or other things valued by his company to increase his chances for promotion far more than the eyelid surgery.
It might have worked out fine for the two women above but not for the reasons they expected. One of the things plastic surgery is very good at is restoring self-esteem. This change in self-image can cause differences is clothing, makeup, hair, behavior and attitude that can be very attractive socially and may very well bring about the renewed popularity they were seeking.
A few years ago a tall, very attractive redhead named Erica came to me after being rejected by another surgeon for “unrealistic expectations”. She was a high level executive with a history of an ugly divorce. Her self-image and self-esteem were barely hanging on. We talked a long time and she literally said, “I’ve never really liked my breasts anyway but I think at this time in my life if I have breast surgery it will give me the boost I need to feel good about myself again and get over that damn divorce.” We went ahead with the surgery and she was delighted. If I could put a caption on her post-op pictures, it would read. “I know I’m special, I know I’m hot and I don’t care anymore what that jackass said.”