As the popularity of aesthetic and cosmetic procedures grows, so has the frequency of patients who either regret the decision, are unhappy with the outcome, or are simply in another phase of life at this point and no longer desire the look. As a plastic surgeon who does quite a bit of revision surgery (kinda like the show “Botched” but less expensive and without the cameras or the drama) patients often come to me after finding themselves in this position.
Here comes the bad news: Once you have cosmetic surgery there’s no magic “undo” button to make it like the surgery never happened. The good news is that in the right hands, a skilled Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with the proper experience can often help you make the best of the situation and achieve a good and sometimes excellent result.
When revising or trying to reverse cosmetic surgery there a number of factors to consider. First and foremost is your general health. Do you have any medical issues that may make it dangerous to have more surgery?
Do you smoke?
How many procedures have been done on the area?
Did anything happen after any of the procedures, such as infection, bleeding, excessive scar tissue, or other issues?
It’s absolutely critical to have as much information as possible, and to be honest about what you’ve had done in the past. Ideally you should try to bring your old records and operative reports, if possible.
When you are evaluated, an experienced surgeon will assess the anatomy, go over the previous history, and discuss your goals and what you hope to achieve. In my practice, I try to find a common ground between what you are looking for and what I think can safely be done with a high chance of success. I will tell you if I think one operation can be expected or if there is a possibility that staged surgery will be required. Most importantly, we focus on realistic expectations—if a surgeon makes it sound easy or seems to be telling you exactly what you want to hear or promises perfection, watch out.
There are times when the fix is relatively easy, but often that is not the case and the level of tissue damage, scarring, and disfiguration dictates the process. If this is your fifth rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, liposuction, or buttock augmentation it’s safe to assume the corrective process will be an uphill climb.
When deciding who to see for procedures like this, it is important to choose a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. While plastic surgeons are very highly trained to perform cosmetic operations, much of our training is focused on developing extremely specialized surgical skills and experience in properly handling all tissues of the body and the nuances of anatomy. We routinely perform challenging reconstructive procedures of all kinds. We are often faced with surgical problems where we are the last resort and have to rely on our skills to devise unique solutions. This is important because no two revision procedures are the same and we often have to be creative to help our patients get where they want to be.