Great expectations and how to manage them

By June 29, 2018 January 2nd, 2021 All Procedures, Face
Managing Expectations

Plastic surgeons are not magicians (although some of us would like to think so!). And one of the most difficult things to do as a surgeon is to set reasonable expectations of the type of results that can be achieved with a facelift.

It’s an issue that’s complicated by the fact that everyone’s face and skin are different. Every facelift is different and there are simply no guarantees.

With so much information available on the internet, it’s easy to ‘over-expect’. When you’re looking at images online, remember that many celebrities have had multiple procedures and that images are often heavily photo-shopped.

So how can you get a true idea of your potential for improvement? The simple answer is that any good surgeon will spend time carefully assessing your face and talking with you at length before going ahead with a procedure. This is to minimise the chance that you’ll be disappointed with the results.

In my practice, there are usually two one-hour consultations, where we discuss all of these things in depth. After carefully assessing your face, I explain the results that you can reasonably expect from my work. We look at typical images and discuss the surgical techniques that are necessary in your case, as well as the positive and negative aspects of your pattern of ageing, in terms of how each area is likely to respond to surgery. I also use this time to discover whether you have unrealistic expectations, which is quite common. More on this later…

The other way to help set realistic expectations is to use photography. Patients often bring photos or goal images to their initial consultations and this can be very helpful as it gives me a good idea of how realistic they are. It’s not unusual for me to see photos of people when they were 30 years younger than their current age. I once even had a patient in her 60s bring in a photo of herself at her 21st birthday as an aspirational image!

When this happens, it’s a sign that there is still some learning to do before the person has a realistic idea of how they may benefit from surgery. If they can’t achieve this, they’re just not ready.

Perhaps the most useful, and practical way to explain the type of results that can be achieved is to use images of previous patients (with their permission of course). Depending on the procedure that’s being considered, I select photos that are age appropriate and where the person in the image has a similar face shape. The beauty of this approach is it shows new patients exactly the kind of results we achieve day to day – warts and all.

Patients may be delighted or disappointed when they see these photos, but whatever the case, the images are 100% real. It’s my job to be honest and upfront about potential outcomes for every person and every procedure. The upside of this is that when patients do go ahead with surgery, they often get a nice surprise if the results turn out better than they hoped.

So, if you only take away one thing from this blog, remember that facelifts are not about achieving perfection, but making realistic, worthwhile, individualised improvements with safe and modern surgical techniques.

Thanks for reading!

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