Cosmetic surgery can often improve one’s appearance by correcting deformities of the face and body or by eliminating some of the conspicuous marks of age. In a society that places so much emphasis on appearance, no apologies for this type of surgery are necessary. However, cosmetic surgery is not for everyone, and it is important that the person considering such surgery be well informed and understand the risks involved as well as the anticipated benefits. The following is information with which you should be familiar if you are considering cosmetic surgery. Please understand that we speak in terms of the average case — variations do exist.

Who is a good candidate for cosmetic surgery?

Persons who are seeking an improvement in their appearance and are realistic in their expectations as to what the surgery can accomplish are good candidates. A person who is seeking absolute perfection or expects a transforming miracle is not a good candidate. While cosmetic surgery is often psychologically beneficial in increasing one’s self-confidence and esteem, it is not the solution for all of one’s problems. For instance, a cosmetic operation can adjust a physical feature such as a prominent nose, but it cannot correct problems with interpersonal relationships. If we believe the patient is expecting more from the surgery than it can accomplish either physically, psychologically or socially, we will recommend they not have surgery.

How successful is cosmetic surgery?

The degree of success of an operation depends not only on the skill and experience of the surgeon and the cooperation of the patient, but also on such widely variable factors as the general health, age, skin tone, bone structure, heredity, and the specific problem. The healing process is influenced by these factors and is not entirely under the control of the patient or surgeon. While good results are anticipated in properly selected cases, it would be unethical for the surgeon to imply any type of warranty or guarantee.

What are the goals of cosmetic surgery?

Our goal is to improve the features that you find objectionable and provide a natural appearing result. We wish to keep your recovery period as short as possible and allow you to return to your normal activities quickly. In our office, we try to provide a private, pleasant experience and maximum convenience. Our main goal is to ensure maximum patient satisfaction.

Are other services available in addition to surgery?

Any cosmetic surgical procedure, such as facelift, breast augmentation and liposuction (including ultrasonic liposuction) is available through Richmond Plastic Surgeons. In addition, non-surgical cosmetic procedures are available. These include laser skin resurfacing, botox and spider vein injections. We have a registered nurse skin-care specialist with over 10 years experience in our office. She is able to provide skin-care programs and peels and offers flexible scheduling. We are also able to provide consultations with professional dietitians and personal trainers to help improve eating and exercise habits. Cosmetic consultations with a computerized prediction of expected results are available.

Will it hurt?

During the operation, which is usually performed under intravenous sedation or general anesthesia, there is seldom any discomfort. Any breakthrough pain is easily remedied with additional medication. After the surgery, there should be only minor discomfort that can be controlled with oral medication. While discomfort and limitation of activity after surgery are minimal, you must be willing to accept what little there is and realize it is only temporary.

Will there be much swelling and bruising?

Most operations, especially those performed near the loose tissues of the eyes, result in some degree of swelling and bruising. The amount varies with the different procedures and the individual patient. Preoperative medications and certain operative techniques are used to keep this to a minimum. The majority of swelling that does occur usually subsides within a few days, and any temporary bruising that remains can be covered with make-up.

Will there be scars?

Despite what you may have heard, all surgical incisions heal by forming a scar which is long-term and cannot be erased. However, precautions are taken to try to make the scars as refined and inconspicuous as possible and to place them in areas where they are more easily camouflaged with makeup and hairstyles. While such scars are long-term, these are rarely noticeable or cause any trouble.

What are the costs involved?

The charges for different surgical procedures vary with each operation and the complexity of the problem. Since cosmetic surgery is strictly elective, the fees are payable in advance. We do offer financing for cosmetic procedures.

Will insurance pay any part of the surgery fee?

As a general rule, insurance will not pay for operations that are strictly for cosmetic purposes. Occasionally it will pay for part of a cosmetic surgical procedure if it improves function by relieving symptoms such as: restricted vision, impaired breathing, back and shoulder ache due to heavy breasts, etc. If it does pay for part of the surgical fee, it will usually pay the related hospital and anesthesia costs.

Our office will be glad to file any insurance claims for you. However, we cannot fill out claims stating the surgery was performed to improve function if it was not. We will do all we can to assist you and will send all supporting information possible, but we are not responsible for the final decision of your insurance company.

We accept the following insurance companies: Anthem HMO, Healthkeepers, Healthkeepers Plus, Cigna, Southern Health, Coventry, Medicare, VA Medicaid, Humana, Aetna, Mamsi, Tricare, AARP Medicare, BCBS, Anthem Cova Care, Virginia Health Network, Virginia Premier, Mailhandlers.

This is not a complete list, as the list changes periodically due to contractual agreements between Richmond Plastic Surgeons and insurance carriers. For some insurance carriers, we are considered “out of network” or non-participating providers. Richmond Plastic Surgeons accepts payment from those carriers as long as you have out of network benefits. Please ask about your particular insurance plan when you call.

Contact our office if a health plan is not listed.

What will the first office visit entail?

A medical history will be obtained from you. We will then discuss the problem that particularly concerns you, your reasons for wanting it corrected and your expectations. After a thorough examination of the problem, we will give you our opinion as to what the chances are for accomplishing what you desire and the technique involved. Cosmetic consultations with a computerized prediction of expected results are available. After our discussion it will be up to you to decide whether or not you want the surgery. If you want to think about our discussion or discuss it with your family before making a final decision, you are encouraged to do so. However, you are the one who should make the final decision, not someone else. A second office visit can be scheduled if necessary.

Preoperative photographs will be made so that your problem can be studied more thoroughly and will be used for reference during the surgery should you decide to have it. It would be appreciated if you would wear a minimum of makeup and clothing that can easily be removed for exposure of the area to be examined.