13 Things Plastic Surgeons Won’t Tell You

Plastic surgery before and after photos may be alluring, but before you consider going under the knife, here are the plastic surgery secrets you need to know.

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1. I had a patient who wanted a brow lift because she thought she looked grumpy all the time.

Illustration by Eddie Guy

I sent her for a brow wax instead. It took 15 minutes, she looked great, and she saved herself $5,000. I’ve also seen patients get results similar to eyelid lifts with over-the- counter firming serums and eyelid-lift creams. The results are temporary, but they do work to reduce lines and puffiness.

2. It drives me crazy when parents call from the emergency room because their kid got a scratch on his face.


It’s not going to look any different if I sew it up instead of the ER doctor; it’s probably just going to cost you a lot more money. Unless the injury is severe, you don’t need a plastic surgeon for every cut and scrape.



3. If I’ve invested $200,000 to buy a laser machine, that’s probably what I’m going to recommend, even though another type of treatment may be cheaper.


Make sure you ask if there is an alternative, such as a chemical peel, that might work just as well or better.

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4. We have a secret weapon we can use when things go wrong: leeches.


By restoring blood flow and secreting a chemical that prevents blood clots, leeches can help salvage a breast lift gone bad or a reattached finger that’s about to die. It sounds gross, but reconstructive plastic surgeons use them routinely.

5. If your drooping eyelids are partially blocking your vision, your insurance may pay for a lid lift.


So many patients have used Medicare to pick up the tab for the procedure that it’s caused controversy.

6. We do laugh at you sometimes.


I had a patient who e-mailed me to ask if it was OK for her to cook for her family again. She wanted to make sure her breast implants wouldn’t melt. I also had a guy come in with his wife and his girlfriend literally one week apart for the same breast implant operation.

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7. We think the celebrities with the frozen faces, puffed-up lips, and gargantuan breast implants look ridiculous too.

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8. How would I pick a plastic surgeon?


I’d look for a doctor who is certified to train other doctors. They are called “fellowship directors.”

9. Want to avoid my office?


Use sunblock with zinc or titanium dioxide, wear sunglasses outside, and don’t squint.



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10. Before you judge us, remember that most of us do a lot more than just elective surgery.


We correct cleft lips and cleft palates, perform delicate hand and face surgeries, and help reconstruct people who were burned, had a cancer operation, or suffered a catastrophic accident.


11. We may get a little Botox here or there, but most serious plastic surgeons haven’t had any plastic surgery themselves.


That may be because it’s an egotistical profession, and the only person I would want operating on me is myself.


12. One fourth of our patients are men.


They get liposuction, Botox, eyelid lifts, hair transplants, and more.


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13. When you bring in your car to get fixed, you ask all sorts of questions.


But a surprising number of people prepared to put their bodies under the knife don’t ask anything. Not one question.

Sources: Plastic surgeons William DeLuca, MD, in Albany, New York; Usha Rajagopal, MD, in San Francisco; Michael Salzhauer, MD, in Miami; Peter Neligan, MD, at the University of Washington Medical Center; Anthony Youn, MD, author of the memoir In Stitches; a plastic surgeon in Boston; and Andrew P. Ordon, MD, cohost of the TV show The Doctors

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