Summary: Surgery can be a big event for any patient, whether it’s getting a wisdom tooth removed, a new kidney or breast implants. However, one of those things is not like the other—while many surgeries are medically necessary, plastic surgery is typically elective. With that comes the luxury of getting to choose when you schedule your procedure.
This creates a unique situation where some patients want to schedule multiple procedures, sometimes back-to-back with little downtime in between, creating potentially serious implications for the health and well-being of the patient. All of this has led to push in Australia for a pre-surgical psych evaluation and mandatory waiting period that would legally require a set amount of time to elapse between plastic surgery procedures. This prerequisite would theoretically prevent cosmetic surgery procedures performed too close to each other. But is a government mandate really necessary to protect patient health?
Plastic Surgery on a Whim
As plastic surgery becomes more gradually accepted in today’s world, more patients are beginning to consider the physical enhancements that cosmetic surgery can bring. However, an “instant result” mentality can lead some patients down a road where they want cosmetic enhancement wherever and whenever they want, including wanting multiple procedures in a very short amount of time.
Obviously, this practice is discouraged by most plastic surgeons due to the trauma that surgery places on your body. Undergoing another procedure while your body is still recovering from the first can compound problems:
- Longer recovery times
- Increased bleeding and surgical trauma
Having outlined the risks that accompany multiple surgeries, it’s necessary to mention that there is currently no legal requirement on waiting times between enhancements in the U.S. In addition to the dangers of performing additional surgery on a recovering body, results of plastic surgery usually aren’t visible until several weeks or months after the procedure. Because of this, patients may think they need further refinement of their figure immediately, even though they haven’t yet seen their final outcome. It’s up to the surgeon to explain that waiting for the body to heal and seeing the final outcome to be revealed takes time and patience. Quickly performing additional procedures isn’t the answer.
Consultations for Patient Safety
With this in mind, it’s important to remember that all surgeries should include a pre-op consultation. In the case of getting an elective cosmetic surgery like breast implants, a consultation is a great time for patients to ask questions about breast augmentation, voice their concerns and communicate with their surgeon about their goals. The purpose of a consultation is two-fold: first, the surgeon can physically evaluate the patient and give a recommendation on the best approach to meet her goals. Secondly, the patient gets all the data she needs in order to make an educated choice about her surgery, including information on how long until she can expect to see her final results, and whether additional procedures may be necessary or recommended.
Conducted with these priorities in mind, a plastic surgery consultation may negate the need for a mandatory waiting period, especially in combination with only having procedures performed by strictly principled plastic surgeons. When physical and mental health are kept front-of-mind, even getting multiple cosmetic surgeries—spaced a proper length of time apart—may be perfectly safe, without a mandatory waiting period.