Everything You Must Know Before Undergoing Cosmetic Surgery

Better safe than sorry.

Primum non nocere

"First, do no harm." That's from the Hippocratic oathThe origin of the phrase is not completely known but the idea is a principal precept of bioethics and is a fundamental principle throughout the world. 

Healthcare providers live by this code. It tempers their spirit and it tethers daring egos to the ground where the quest for scientific curiosity and discovery can easily lead genius doctors to throw caution and even compassion to the wind. As a healthcare professional, I live by this principle and it guides me in and out of work. I would like to believe that fundamentally, all of us take this to heart and no doctor will knowingly and deliberately cause harm to patients. After all, a happy patient leads to a robust clinical practice aided by online reviews, blog posts, and personal testimonials.  Just as quickly, any dissatisfaction, complication or scandal can lead to a social media backlash that is fast and furious. Doctors may also face legal and civil ramifications should they encounter problems with their patient, whether it is caused by negligence or chance; it is a burden that physicians carry and are very aware of.


Presently, the beauty industry continues to grow. In the U.S. alone, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons recently released figures that show there was a three percent increase in cosmetic procedures done in 2016. Worldwide this upward trend is also evident. More men and women are choosing to go under the knife and get both invasive and non-invasive procedures. That said, people who opt for surgery should have the following things in mind:

1. Choose your doctor well. Make sure that your surgeon is licensed and qualified. Ask for credentials and proof of education, training and proficiency.  Ask about his or her affiliations, medical societies, certifications. Seek at least three opinions. Each doctor will have a different way of approaching your concern and talking to different surgeons will give you more information and allow you to not just develop a relationship with them, it will also give you an idea on how your doctor will take care of you after the surgery.

2. Know yourself. Do you really want to have the surgery? Are you doing it for your sole benefit? Why are you having the procedure? Remember, surgery is permanent and in aesthetics, a millimeter goes a long way. There is a very thin line between a beautiful result and a disastrous one. This is a risk that as a patient, you also assume with the doctor no matter how “minor” a procedure is.  More extensive procedures will also carry more risks and possible complications.  You should be fully aware of these possibilities.

3. Do not lie to your doctor. It is important that you disclose everything.  Everything. Do not lie about your medical history, surgical history, what drugs you’re taking (prescribed or otherwise), supplements, vitamins, habits, allergies. Do not discount small details. For example, vitamin E or aspirin can mean more bleeding during surgery and should be discontinued. As a general recommendation, supplements and anti-coagulants are discontinued a week prior to surgery. Drugs may interact with the anesthesia and other medication while some can contribute to bleeding or impair healing. Smokers and diabetics usually do not heal very well.  It is also important to tell your doctor about allergies. A thorough and accurate medical history is vital.  It impacts surgical outcome and can save your life.

4. Ask and check about the center and its capacity to operate.  It should fulfill health regulations and must be equipped to not just handle surgeries but emergencies as well. It should be licensed to operate and should comply with building regulations and permits. It is best to do surgeries in hospitals but in case the procedure is done in a center or clinic, do check if they are equipped and have easy access to a good hospital.

5. Get your own clearance.  It is advisable to obtain a cardio-pulmonary clearance especially if you have pre-existing health conditions or if you are of considerable age.  It gives your doctor an idea if you are fit to have surgery and identify risk factors you may have before, during, and after the operation. In general, younger patients are better candidates for surgery but obtaining a CPC will do no harm.

6. Do not consume alcohol at least two days before surgery.

7. Document everything. Have your own before- and after-procedure pictures and videos so you can have a baseline and compare pre- and post- operative results.

8. Listen to your doctor and follow pre- and post-operative instructions. You really can't meditate unwanted hematoma or infection so take these instructions seriously.

9. Be realistic. Be informed. Know that complications can and might happen even in the hands of a seasoned surgeon. Accidents happens so err on the side of caution. 

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Windie Villarica
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