I am now encountering patients, on a daily basis who are so much more educated about their choices. I speak to patients every day who have a plethora of information which sometimes is extremely impressive and means that they have spent a great deal of time studying and thinking about their proposed cosmetic enhancement. For example, today I spoke with a PhD research scientist who is a leading molecular biologist in the field of cancer research. She was able to discuss with me at a very scientific level all of the potential pros and cons of various treatments that she had researched. However on the other hand, it was very interesting to note that she had still fallen victim to much of the misinformation and stories that are on the Internet about virtually every type of cosmetic enhancement or procedure. She exhibited the same concerns toward the use of anesthesia, silicone gel implants, and other factors which tend to be found in people who are not nearly as sophisticated from a scientific standpoint as she was.
What does this tell us? This tells us that all of us are human and that potentially we all have fears and concerns and feelings about these procedures. I, myself, am contemplating having surgery for an old injury I had in college, and as much as I know about surgery, I find myself going through many of the same concerns that the PhD patient also expressed. I find myself thinking and worrying about some of the exact same issues that my patients mention – everything from concerns about undergoing anesthesia, whether or not I will have an infection or complication, or whether my surgery will turn out the way I want. This is HUMAN!
As a doctor I think that it is important that we remember the human side of going through these procedures. We must treat the whole patient, and, instead of giving them a bunch of facts and figures, we must try to reassure them, to let them know from an emotional standpoint that we plan to take care of them and that we will be there in a compassionate manner no matter what. And, should they have a problem, it is something that will be managed to the very best of our effort, in a completely caring manner as anyone should expect of their doctor, no matter in what field they practice.
So, that brings us back to the issue of fact or fiction, and that all patients, no matter what the level of scientific sophistication, will present to their plastic surgeon with some facts and some fiction they have typically read on the Internet.
Remember, the Internet is both a blessing and a curse. My recommendation to patients is that they pay attention to their surgeon and let him help them identify what is fact and what is fiction. Don’t consider the Internet to be all truth because it is certainly not. Find a surgeon you can trust who will take care of you not only as a board certified and experienced plastic surgeon but also as a caring physician whom you trust to be there for you no matter what.