Realistic goals mean that you fully understand what breast cosmetic surgery can and cannot achieve for you. Before you make the decision or actually undergo breast cosmetic surgery, ask yourself the following questions:
• Why do I want to have breast cosmetic surgery?
• What do I specifically hope to accomplish through breast surgery?
• Do others see what I see and hope to improve through breast surgery?
• What is the risk to my health and my life by the treatment necessary to achieve what I want to accomplish, and am I willing to accept this risk?
• What expectations do I have for the physical outcome of breast surgery?
• What are my expectations concerning my daily life?
• What are the expectations concerning my life, overall?
• Is my decision mine alone?
• Do those who support me in my daily life also support my desire for breast surgery?
Once you can answer these questions confidently, you and your surgeon together can determine if your goals are realistic. Realistic goals are defined as those that are both safe and attainable. In addition, realistic goals for aesthetic cosmetic surgery of the breast are:
• Not extreme
• Not the goals of anyone other than the patient
• Not life changing
• The goals of emotionally healthy individuals who want to improve their appearance for themselves Beyond realistic goals, you must also consider realistic expectations for breast cosmetic surgery. Realistic expectations include a complete understanding of the breast cosmetic surgery process and accepting that process as necessary to achieve your realistic goals. The process of breast cosmetic surgery, like any medical treatment or surgery, carries:
• Pretreatment and/or preoperative patient obligations
• Discomfort, anxiety, and pain
• Time commitment, downtime, and recovery
• Posttreatment and/or postoperative patient obligations
• Potential for unfulfilled goals and possible undesirable results
• Potential for physical risk
• Financial obligation, even with procedures that are not purely elective
Also, you need to understand that the difference between aesthetic cosmetic surgery of the breast and other medical treatments is that you are undergoing treatment by choice. Aesthetic surgery of the breast is not performed to promote better health. It includes a personal, emotional, and physical investment. You cannot expect to be fully satisfied by aesthetic surgery of the breast—even if the actual physical outcome was what you expected—unless you are prepared fully for the process that outcome will require.
There is no better way in life to communicate anything than to do so directly. Ask questions when you need more information or do not understand something. Your consultation is the most important time to communicate your goals and expectations, that is, what you want to achieve and how you expect it will be accomplished. Before your consultation or initial visit with your breast surgeon, it is a good idea to write down any questions you have. Your list should include questions about the procedure you are considering as well as questions about a provider’s credentials and experience. In this way, you are less likely to overlook anything. Take this list with you to every consultation. Jot down information that you may wish to review with subsequent providers and compare the answers. You can also call a practice after your consultation if new questions arise. Your expectations are not limited to the outcome of breast cosmetic surgery, but also include the process. Tell the physician what you are willing to undergo in order to achieve your goals. Although you may be told your expectations are unrealistic, this doesn’t mean you cannot continue to pursue your goals for breast cosmetic surgery. It does mean that you must re-evaluate what you are willing to experience and accept less. You need to know what surgery and recovery entail, including the amount of time you need to recuperate. Make certain you are fully informed about possible complications as well.
Photographs are necessary for physician reference in every case of cosmetic surgery of the breast. When performing cosmetic surgery of the breast, your surgeon needs to have a baseline visual anatomy of the areas to be treated. The photos are part of your medical record. These photos are important to you, too. To compare oneself before and after treatment in photographs taken in the same light, at the same angle, and same distance is truly an amazing experience. But before any photograph of you is taken, even for your private patient record, you will likely be required to sign a release that specifically defines how and when a physician may use the photographs taken of you. When signing this release, recall how important it was for you to see the actual outcomes of other cases your physician performed. Realize that on the release form, you also may be asked to allow your photographs to be used for in-office patient education or other forms of patient education or research.
In addition to photographs taken in the physician’s office, it is common for a patient to come into a consultation with photographs that illustrate what she wants to achieve.While bringing in a photograph of the size breasts you wish to have or of your breasts prior to ablative surgery may be helpful to visually express your goals, there is a caution. Your physician may not be able to meet the ideal of the photograph you present. Very close to this issue is the debate about computer imaging and cosmetic surgery. Many professional societies have made strong statements against the use of computer imaging in a consultation. The reason is simple: given the nature of human anatomy and the physiology of healing, no result is fully predictable.While defining and planning breast size after surgery is one of the most easily controlled and achieved outcomes of any form of cosmetic surgery, don’t believe for a minute that any physician can guarantee what your outcome will be.
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