PATIENTS AND FRIENDS:
with a Plastic Surgeon emerges from either a self-perception carried
from youth, or one developed through arduous trials of living. Traveling
to this office for a consultation to improve one's self-image through
plastic surgery is an exceptionally courageous decision, and one which
I gratefully acknowledge. Once the decision for change is made, surgical
correction usually becomes very urgent for the patient. This is because
of an infinite emotional and historical events in our lives, which
may culminate in an aesthetic surgical experience for you, the patient.
It is very important to your well being and security to make your
decision for surgery slowly and considerately. Take care to study
both yourself and your surgeon.
It is very important and necessary for you to accumulate as much knowledge
as possible about your surgery during the time we share together,
both before and following surgery. Any and all information is freely
offered by me and my staff at your request.
My job is to execute your surgery, technically and artistically according
to my best talents, skills, and experience. I am also responsible
for explaining the specific limitations, problems, complications,
and feeling which relate to your individual surgery. My office staff
and nurses are also dedicated to contributing as fully as possible
to your learning experience, your feeling and physical caring before
and after cosmetic reconstruction. No stone should be left unturned
by this office, myself and my staff, to provide you with adequate
support and factual information necessary for your decision to undergo
such a major undertaking in your life.
Our ultimate goal is to satisfy you, our patient, emotionally as well
It is extremely important to realize that this is a joint undertaking,
which involves a team effort. This team consists of a close working
relationship with you, me, and our office staff. All of us must cooperate
fully so that the end results become more satisfying for everyone
involved. Nothing is more demoralizing for a human being than to expect
greater improvement or change in one's life or self-image and not
feel that this has been realized. Nothing is more demoralizing for
a Plastic Surgeon and his staff than to create a successful operation,
but has a dissatisfied patient.
Unfortunately, one major price that we must pay to achieve this satisfaction
is time. The decision for change is usually immediate and urgent,
but the history which prompts this desire for change is usually written
over many long years. Realizing this, my staff and I routinely spend
as much time as necessary to fulfill the individual needs of each
patient. This includes extensive pre-operative education and relating
closely to your feelings, both before and long after surgery. I hope
that you will understand that each operation is a work of both art
and science. Aesthetic surgery is becoming more and more technically
complicated. This necessitates a great deal more surgical time spent
to achieve greater artistic excellence. In wanting to provide highly
satisfying support, as well as excellence in technical surgery, I,
as an individual, cannot serve the total needs of the great volumes
of patients who pass through these doors.
If you should choose me for your surgeon, I trust that you will fully
understand the enormity of the task before us - you and me. Your choice
implies that you wish to join fully with my staff in working toward
a mutual goal of satisfying your needs. Please ask all the questions
and demand all the care necessary for both your emotional and physical
comfort. At the same time, we need you to be a patient-friend in understanding
the tremendous time and energy which is necessary to give the same
care to our other patients waiting.
You will shortly realize that an important feature of aesthetic surgery
is that you will consider the result of the operation to be an enhancement,
not a loss, as is usual after other types of surgery, such as a hysterectomy.
These benefits are objective as well as subjective. Because of an
improved appearance, patients frequently become more socially desirable
to others and to themselves. Many studies have supported the fact
that physical attractiveness is the most important personal characteristic,
influencing how much one is liked in a man-woman dating situation.
Especially for the woman, good looks are the passport to popularity
and upward mobility. The confluence of beauty, wealth, and power is
a universal phenomena in this world. Literally, it pays to be beautiful.
Several studies have been performed and conducted, in which subjects
are viewed in pre-operative and post-operative photographs. Individuals
pictured post-operatively were judged to have more desirable personalities,
to be better potential marriage partners, and to have happier lives
than the same persons photographed before surgery. Since all the impressions
were from photographs, actual personality was not a factor in these
studies. These studies suggest that aesthetic surgery may have a stronger
social impact on patients' lives than had been previously assumed.
The "enhancement of appearance" from the operative procedure
is not only in the mind of the patient, but also in the mind of those
around him or her. The improved social reception reinforces one's
sense of well being. It is not uncommon for our patients, after cosmetic
surgery, to become even more outgoing, opening many doors for their
Numerous studies have shown that after a successful aesthetic operation,
the patient's self-consciousness about a displeasing feature decreases,
as do anxiety and depression. At the same time, self-esteem rises,
as does the patient's perception of herself or himself as more attractive
sexually. For males, there is an enhanced masculinity; for females,
an increased femininity. Behavior patterns, sometimes complex, designed
to camouflage an unpleasant body part and concomitant feelings of
poor self-esteem and inferiority frequently disappears. New, non-verbal
as well as verbal behaviors come to the fore, and the patient becomes
less socially withdrawn. In patients that present for cosmetic surgery,
87% undergo surgery to improve looks, 80% to improve feelings about
oneself, 67% to receive compliments, and 64% to decrease self-consciousness.
At first thought, it may seem perplexing that so many women today
are seeking aesthetic surgery during the active feminist movement,
many of whose leaders are opposed to such operations. However, the
"be what you are" message is not as important to some women
as the other message "be all you can be - actualize your potential".
A recent patient, a woman in her early 50's coming for a face lift
said, "I have been a good mother, a supportive wife, and now
I want to do something for myself." This was the expression of
someone who was seeking equal entitlement - equal to what she thought
her husband and her children had received from her.
The beneficial effects of aesthetic surgery extend even to the work
place, where advancement may be partially the result in improved and
younger looks. In fact, some executives have credited their rise to
a cosmetic procedure. The point here is that it is not only how that
person looks, but how that person feels he or she looks.
I am frequently reminded of a quote by Pope Pius XIII, who in 1958
stated, "If we consider physical beauty in its Christian light,
and if we respect the condition set by our moral teachings, then aesthetic
surgery is not in contraindication to the will of God, in that it
restores the perfection of that greatest work of creation, Man."
Unequivocally, I would state that no patient has ever undertaken an
aesthetic procedure without expecting a positive change somewhere
to something on his or her body and to his or her life. In short,
every cosmetic patient expects an enhancement of some sort from undergoing
the ordeal - or for some - the opportunity of aesthetic surgery.
Please understand that my staff and I are dedicated to serving you
in every aspect of plastic surgery. We thank you for your cooperation
in this effort, and we are looking forward to the beginning of an
exciting and hopefully a long-lasting relationship.
John M. Shamoun, M.D., F.A.C.S.
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