Some plastic surgery patients just don’t make the cut

I recently came across a New York Times article about plastic surgeons who turn away patients.  It seems somewhat difficult to fathom a plastic surgeon, a profession seemingly overrun with superficial money-grubbers, refusing what could end up being thousands of dollars from a willing patient.  But having worked for a plastic surgeon, I’m surprised more doctors don’t turn away patients. 

Take the textbook situation of the petite twentysomething who comes in wanting disproportionately large breast implants to “make her boyfriend happy.”  Post-surgery she might be pleased with the results because of the attention she’s getting from her boyfriend, but the surgeon feels that post-breakup she could regret her decision.  Or there’s the woman who comes in wanting the “trout pout” look of drastically overplumped lips.  She continues to demand collagen until her lips look like overstuffed sausages, despite the doctor’s recommendations.


But is it really up to the doctor to decide what is best for patients?  Or do the patients dictate what is best for themselves?

I think the doctor is usually wise to refuse a patient.  If a person dissatisfied with their surgery decides to vent their frustrations online, the doctor’s reputation could be ruined no matter how well the procedure was performed.  The doctor could lose money because other potential patients saw a nightmarish review and opted for another surgeon.  Sometimes it’s an ethical issue, but sometimes it’s an issue related solely to the doctor’s ego — an artist wouldn’t settle for a sub-par canvas, after all. 

A plastic surgeon playing the role of psychologist when deciding a patient’s reason for surgery is unfortunate but not uncommon.  Trying to keep a spouse, land a job or attemtping to pursue perfection are never reasons to opt for surgery.  Although results are a guarantee with cosmetic surgery, they might not always be the desired results if obtained for the wrong reasons.

The bottom line is that doctors now have the freedom to turn away patients knowing there will be plenty more, just as patients can rest assured knowing they can find another qualified doctor.  Plastic surgery is becoming an increasingly viable option for people of all incomes due to a widening array of services and payment plans.  You might not be able to pay your mortgage, but you can definitely get that thigh lipo.

So, if you’re thinking about having a procedure done, ask the doctor if they refuse patients.  If they have, take it as a form of credibility.  At least you know he or she won’t be like this guy.

~ by Stephanie Dunn on September 14, 2008.

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