The Good and the Bad of the Internet for Plastic Surgery

With the explosion of internet technology over the past 20 years, information is readily available to anyone with access by computer or smart phone.  The problem is, you need to ask the right questions, and know how to filter out the misinformation that can be out there.

More and more patients each year seem to find me through Google or other internet searches.  These people are generally well educated, and come prepared with questions based on their research.  It is always a pleasure to help educate people about Plastic Surgery.

Many patients come with some information that is incomplete, or misleading, or sometimes plain false.  This is where you need to be careful to dispel any myths and misconceptions that may be being put forth in chat rooms, forums, and unscrupulous websites.

So how do you sort out the good from the bad on the internet?  Find an expert credible source who can answer those questions without bias.  Below, you will find a few recommendations as to how.

  1. Go to www.plasticsurgery.org, the ASPS website which is maintained by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.  It has many great resources, including educational and referral services.
  2.  Visit a Plastic Surgeon who is Board Certified by the ABPS.  Bring your questions written down so you do not forget, and he/she should be able to answer them easily.

I am always happy to spend the time with patients necessary to answer all questions.  I try to give the most accurate, honest, up-to-date information available so my patients have what they need to make a smart decision.  Do not be fooled by hype, insist on facts.  If something doesn’t sound right, or you do not feel comfortable in an office, run away.  Your gut instincts are usually correct.


The Enemy of Good is Perfect

When I was a resident in plastic surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, I was assisting on a breast reconstruction case. The results were good, but I noticed a little asymmetry. When I suggested redoing the one side to correct it, my attending physician told me “The enemy of good is perfect”. He was trying to make the point that if something looks good, trying too hard to make it perfect carries risks and the danger of going too far and creating a problem. This surprised me, as I thought plastic surgery was about perfection.

Many patients also think that perfection is the goal of cosmetic plastic surgery. These patients are often disappointed by even the best results of the best surgeons. My job as a plastic surgeon consulting with patients is to make sure that they have realistic expectations as to what surgery can deliver in their case. The result depends on your physical appearance, your ability to heal, how you take care of yourself, and the work of your surgeon. My art can only help one of those four items, which is about 25%.

I want to be clear in stating that I have the utmost confidence in my surgical ability and patient selection skills, and I spend a great deal of time educating them as to how to take care of themselves. My results are quite good, as our photo gallery can show.

After being in private practice for 14 years, I now know what my attending was talking about. It is not that you shouldn’t try your best to approach perfection in your results. It is that if you have a good result, do not torture yourself if it is not perfect. Perfection does not exist.

As a prospective plastic surgery patient, this advice is valuable as well. Be realistic in your expectations, and take a moment to compare the before photos to where you are after. Do not listen to others who whisper in your ear with jealousy or bad intentions. Be confident and proud of the improvements that you have made.


A Valentine to Plastic Surgery

Valentine’s Day is when you are supposed to let the people you love know how much they mean to you.  I thought I would extend those feelings to my chosen profession, Plastic  Surgery.  I certainly love what I do, and what better day to let it know how I feel and why.

“Dear Plastic Surgery,

When we first met in medical school more than 20 years ago, I was entranced by your talents and almost magical ability to make people better and more beautiful.  Your way of restoring form and function drew me in, despite the difficulty of getting to know all of you.

During our courtship in residency training and fellowship training, I never worked so hard on a relationship.  Over 100 hours a week I spent with you, trying to perfect my understanding of you.  As my confidence grew, I knew we were destined to be together forever.

After we moved in together on Fort Washington Avenue, I flourished because of you. All that you taught me brought rewards both spiritually and financially.  Together, we have brought joy to thousands of people.  

It is hard to believe that we have been together for so long now.  I still learn from you every day, and the more I know the more I love and respect you.  May we be together for many years to come.

                                                                                                Yours Forever,

                                                                                                                                Dr. Jeffrey Yager


Breast Reduction- Sometimes Less is More

Everyone likes to talk about breast implants, and how “bigger is better.” If you talk to a woman who, through simple genetics or after childbirth, has large breasts naturally, they might tell you to be careful what you wish for.

When your breasts weigh too much for your body, they can cause a host of problems- back pain, neck pain, rashes between and underneath the skin folds, grooves in the shoulders from the bra straps, and even numbness of the hands. It can change the style of clothes you feel comfortable wearing, the type of exercises you can do, and even affect your self esteem and intimate relationships.

Fortunately, breast reduction surgery has been done for more than 100 years. While the goal is to relieve the excess weight, modern procedures can often lift and create a much more ideal and youthful shape as well. There are many different techniques, depending on the amount of tissue we need to remove and how low your nipples sit, and we can often minimize scarring.

Many studies have been done to show the significant increase in the quality of life obtained by breast reduction patients, and my experience with many hundreds of patients bears this out as well. And don’t think you are too old for the procedure. As long as you are in good health, breast reduction can be the best decision you have made.