What would your patients do differently?

Sep 16, 2019, 12:00am

Because nobody wants unhappy patients. Learn how to help yours avoid procedure regret from a few of these RealSelf patient stories.

It’s no secret that some celebrities regret having cosmetic procedures. Heading the much publicized list, Hollywood beauties Courteney Cox, who reported that she gave up fillers because they weren’t her friend, and Nicole Kidman, whose face now moves freely because she gave up Botox (Allergan), according to Diply.com.

What isn’t as clear is why every day patients might regret their decisions to have surgery, injections, peels, laser treatments and more. RealSelf, which launched its RealSelf Verified campaign to offer cosmetic consumers greater transparency, recently reported on cosmetic patient regret in the post: “What 10 Plastic Surgery Patients Would’ve Done Differently, Had They Known Then What They Know Now.” 

In essence, these are the take-home messages for cosmetic providers:

Communicate all of a patients’ options, even if the provider prefers some options over others. 

A breast augmentation patient shares that she thought her options were silicone or saline implants and implant size. She didn’t know (and would have liked to be aware) there were other options, including in surgical technique and scar placement.

Prepare patients for pain, even if the provider doesn’t think a procedure is very painful. One RealSelf member complained her doctor didn’t prepare her for the pain of an office-based Erbium laser procedure. It left her with a lasting impression even though she was happy with her results.

Know that researching cosmetic providers can prove difficult for patients because it’s hard to tell what’s marketing hype vs. credible information. 

A woman told RealSelf she chose her first rhinoplasty surgeon because she saw the surgeon in a magazine. It impressed her but the ultimate experience with that surgeon didn’t. She wished she had done more thorough research to find her provider.

Consider preparing patients for the emotional support they might need with extensive or multiple surgeries. One patient’s focus on fixing different body parts turned to insecurity during the most painful parts of her recovery. She said the surgery was one aspect; the recovery was quite another. She journaled and talked about her questioning why she had elective surgery in the first place (patient remorse) to those close to her. Having that support system helped get her through the insecurity during recovery and to a better place - where she’s glad she had cosmetic surgeries.

Talk about the potential for scarring. 

A patient who said her doctor didn’t warn her about the risk of keloids ended up with two such scars after cosmetic surgery. She didn’t regret having the surgery but admits the scars have dampened the experience for her.

Communicate the need for patients to rest after many procedures. A mother of five young boys admits she tried to carry on with her responsibilities after surgery and regrets not getting more help.

Encourage patients to trust their instincts.

A breast augmentation patient wishes she had gone with the size she wanted and not what members of her family thought she should have. She suggests patients buy an “ideal” sized bra, stuff it and test it out for a few days before going under the knife.

Encourage patients to ask questions.

A mastectomy patient said asking doctors what they’d want for their family members “opened up doctor’s responses,” and helped her feel empowered to ask more questions.

Know that tattoo regret can also lead to removal regret. 

A RealSelf forum tackles things tattoo removal patients wish they had known before having their procedures:

  • Set realistic expectations, including that a ghost image of the tattoo might remain.

  • Be clear that this tends not to be a one-treatment-and-done approach and the skin has to heal after each treatment.

  • Educate patients about how tattoo location and whether or not the tattoo was professionally done or done by an amateur can make a difference in the removal’s success.

  • Tell patients about all the device options for removal of their tattoos and the pros and cons of each.

  • Prepare them for what to expect after treatment and to be aware of potential transient and long-term side effects.