There are some inconvenient truths when it comes to plastic and cosmetic surgery that should be part of the decision making process when considering surgery. Behind the exciting before and after photos - and happy outcomes - there’s a massive amount of discipline, patience and consideration that goes into each procedure. Healing takes time. Scarring doesn’t always behave as we want it to; in each body it can evolve, change and mature differently. Recovery can be painful. Friends and family can be judgemental. Surgery can trigger anxiety. And if you are aiming for perfection, you will always be disappointed (in life, and in surgery).
Some patients find it easy. We had a visit this week from one of our beautiful patients, who had undergone a breast reduction with Dr Sharp three months ago. She wanted to let us know she’d breezed through the entire process - felt great after surgery, bounced in for all of her post op appointments and patiently waited for her results to settle in. But the same procedure for another patient can be a difficult journey overwhelmed by anxiety and uncertainty - which is why it’s important to embark upon surgery with an open mind and an understanding that the process can be a marathon rather than a sprint.
Over the years we’ve noticed some commonality between patients who enjoy the process of surgery, and the results they achieve in the end:
They have reasonable expectations
They have sensible expectations of how their body will heal and recover from surgery. If their bodies don’t behave exactly as they imagined it would after surgery, they nurture it and are patient with their bodies, rather than engaging in negative self-talk. Likewise, they have reasonable expectations of their outcomes. Absolute perfection is a myth; if you are considering surgery in order to look ‘perfect’, you will always feel disappointed. Discuss your honest expectations with your surgeon - and likewise let them know that you expect honest feedback and guidance by them. It’s important for your surgeon to understand the key reasons why you wish to have the procedure, and the outcome you are hoping to achieve. Dr Sharp’s pre operative consultation process is very detailed and covers an exhaustive list of risks, complications and potential outcomes. If you are having a cosmetic procedure, you will have at least two of these consultations before your procedure. Even after these consults, if you have any doubts, ask for another pre operative consultation to discuss any concerns - they are free of charge, as we want to encourage patients to have as many as they need in order to feel fully informed!
They understand the uniqueness of each body
The advent of online surgery forums has in most part been a wonderful thing for patients, enabling them to find information and first-hand accounts that were never accessible in the past to people considering surgery. However, the flip side of this is that there’s a lot of misleading, inaccurate (and sometimes, dangerous) medical information shared between users. Every single body is beautifully unique, and what worked for one forum member might not work for another, for many reasons. In addition to starting off with different anatomy, proportions or disease progression, how your body responds to surgery after the procedure can be totally different to the next person on the forum. Some people are unlucky to be more prone to swelling, infection or suboptimal scar healing. While forums are a great way of doing ground work, it’s important to understand that everyone will have different outcomes.
They adhere to post op instructions
Your recovery is a team effort, often involving you, Dr Sharp, our post op care nurse and - sometimes if you live regionally - your local general practitioner. Before surgery, your informed consent process will include two written documents that clearly outline what to expect after your procedure; it is important to go through these with Dr Sharp and then go home and read through them again at least twice! Particularly observe the post operative information, risks and potential complications. This greatly assists patients in understanding what to anticipate from their procedure. On the day of your surgery you will receive a post operative care envelope containing your post op instructions and another copy of the appointment schedule you will have received earlier. Your post op instructions can’t cover off every possible scenario, they also rely on common sense - such as, if you have had surgery on your right ear today, don’t lie on that side when you go to bed tonight. Keep your support garment on for as long as Dr Sharp recommends after surgery (and even longer if you can), even when its cramping your style and you think you’ve healed enough to stop wearing it. Use your judgement and if you are unsure, call your post operative care nurse on the number we provide you with on your day of surgery; she’s available to talk to you anytime. There’s no such thing as a silly question when it come to post operative care - so stay in touch! Most importantly, if you haven’t adhered to your post op instructions and something has gone wrong, don’t be too nervous to get in touch and tell us; we aren’t here to berate you, we just want the best result possible for you - and the sooner you ask for help, the better your outcome will be.
They attend their post operative appointments
Our post op appointments with Dr Sharp are free of charge for twelve months after surgery - to encourage patients to come back in and receive optimal post op care and support with us. Before you undergo surgery, we will schedule your post operative appointments with you. In our experience, patients who attend their post operative appointments are more satisfied with their outcomes in the long term. Attending these free sessions ensures your healing progression is monitored, keeping healthy lines of communication with your surgeon open and enabling your care team to observe your results and support you through the recovery process.
They are patient!
It’s very understandable for you to want to cast off your dressings or support garments and see a swelling-free, scarless result smiling back at you. It’s also understandable to wish that your bruising, swelling, scars or irregularities would just spontaneously disappear tomorrow. The reality is, time is a wonderful healer, and patience is incredibly important. Some procedures are more prone to having more high risk or lengthy recovery periods that others. The amount of swelling you accumulate can vary greatly, depending on your body. And it can take longer to subside, depending on your body and your post operative activities. Scars can heal at breakneck speed, and they can also grumble along and develop nuances, discolouration, puckering and tethering. Have faith that your body will heal over time, with the ongoing monitoring and care from our surgical team and our post operative recommendations. Follow Dr Sharp’s instructions - and know that we feel just as invested as you are, in your end result - whether that be a journey of weeks, months or years.