Here’s What To Do If You Are Unhappy With Your Plastic Surgery Results

If your cosmetic procedure falls short of your expectations and you want it fixed, this is what you need to know.
Expert Opinion
Written by Genevieve Monsma
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Here’s What To Do If You Are Unhappy With Your Plastic Surgery Results SpeedKingz/Shutterstock

On rare occasions, cosmetic procedures may not yield the results you hoped for. And, while we are not talking about gross negligence, you may find yourself disappointed with the way things turned out.

Perhaps a rhinoplasty slimmed your nose, but now you have a very pointy tip. Or, you had liposuction on your muffin top but see only the slightest improvement, certainly not the slimmed waistline you anticipated. Simply stated: Whatever the cosmetic surgery—even common procedures like tummy tucks, breast augmentations, breast reductions, or facelifts—the final result has fallen short of your expectations, and you want it fixed.

What’s The Next Step?

“It’s important, first and foremost, to be patient,” says Wendy Lewis, an independent plastic surgery consultant known as The Knife Coach. “Some patients look good at three weeks, others not until three months post-surgery, and, for some, your full result may not be apparent for six months.”

Lewis advises that you wait for all the post-surgical swelling and bruising to go away before you start to fret over the outcome. “Sometimes it takes a few weeks or even months for everything to settle—and it’s only then that you can evaluate how things look.”

That said, if you are feeling anxious, speak up. “When you visit your plastic surgeon for follow-up care, it’s okay to voice your concerns to them or to the staff and say that you are feeling disappointed or worried. A reasonable physician will want to address your concerns, walk you through the recovery process, and talk about the next steps, if necessary,” she says.

What Your Should Not Do

“Do not run out and ask a bunch of other cosmetic surgeons for a second opinion. There will, undoubtedly, be doctors who are happy to validate your concern and say they can fix it. But their motives may not be in your best interest,” cautions Lewis.

A better strategy: Try, at least initially, to work with your original doctor. You’ve already invested time and money into that relationship, says Lewis, and they are, likewise, also invested in helping you feel satisfied with your surgery results. Give him or her a chance to work through your disappointment and offer solutions if your result really does merit fixing.

Lewis also stresses the importance of remaining rational. “Don’t threaten and don’t storm in and demand your medical records – unless you are really ready to sever that relationship," she explains. "Once you take your records, you’ve escalated the situation and pretty much ensured your doctor cannot and will not help you. Now, you’re going to have to find a new doctor and spend more money to get what you want.”

How To Get On The Same Page As Your Doctor

Ideally, you and your doctor will be on the same page well in advance of whatever cosmetic treatment or plastic surgery procedure you are planning to have done. To ensure you have found the right medical professional for you and your needs, Lewis offers this advice:

Check Their Reviews

While very negative reviews are to be considered, Lewis cautions that, sometimes, those comments come from an unhappy patient with a vendetta – especially if the rest of the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Instead, it's the doctors that consistently receive mediocre ratings (think: three out of five stars or less) that should give you pause.

Research Your Doctor’s Aesthetic

Look at the other people in the waiting room. Ask to see before-and-after photos – especially of people similar to you in age and general physical description. Take advantage of any technology that allows you to “see” your result using digital images. In some cases, you may even be able to try on a “nose” or the like that is constructed from a 3D printer. If, after these steps, you feel confident in the doctor’s skills, great. If, however, you still have mixed feelings, Lewis says to “ask him about what concerns you.” This is a good way to determine if it’s the doctor’s aesthetic you don’t like, or if your expectation of the plastic surgery is unrealistic.

Evaluate the Staff

You want a doctor that has a good relationship with his or her team – and you want to feel comfortable around them, too, because you’ll be interfacing with them quite a bit. Lewis says having two consultations to get a good sense of the doctor and staff is reasonable, and, if you’re still unsure, go for a third. “No reasonable doctor will deny a third visit," she says. "And, if he does, that’s a red flag.”

Don’t Rush

Ask every question that comes to mind. Don’t ignore your gut. “While many surgical procedures can be reversed or fixed, that’s not a solution you want to count on,” says Lewis. Revision surgeries, corrective surgeries, and other treatments are expensive and require additional downtime. Plus, you usually have to wait nine to 12 months, until your body has totally healed, before going under the knife again.

When to Walk Away

While all of this due diligence should lead to a satisfactory result, there may be rare instances in which your relationship with the physician is beyond repair. Lewis advises that if your doctor is not being reasonable, if he or she is not answering your concerns, or if you feel they are just not capable of giving you the result you want, then it may be time to move on. But taking your records and finding a new board certified plastic surgeon should be the last resort.

For those who have not had surgery yet and worry about the risk of disappointment, Lewis offers this: “Most doctors want you to be pleased. And I found that, most of the time, disappointment is the result of miscommunication or unrealistic expectations, not the surgeon’s skill.”

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GENEVIEVE MONSMAis a contributing writer for AEDIT.

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