The Power of Thank You in Plastic Surgery

Surgeons deal with life and death, and it is important to keep your emotions out of decision making. This contributes to the image of the surgeon as cold and distant. It is a defense mechanism we utilize to “do what needs to be done” without emotionally collapsing. But surgeons are human, and they have feelings, and can have them hurt by the words of a patient.

If I ever get a result that does not meet my standards, and the patient is disappointed or upset, I am totally on their side. I have no harsher critic than myself. I would admit responsibility, and do everything in my power to remedy the situation. Patients understand and are usually grateful, as we are working together to achieve the same goal.

The more difficult situations are where I have done a tremendous job of obtaining a great result, and the patient is dissatisfied. To be yelled at or face anger after having done everything right is very difficult to understand and tolerate. I have never yelled at or been disrespectful to a patient period. It is not in my nature to do so. Ingratitude and an inability to see the truth cannot be argued with. It is a character issue that my words will not resolve.

If you are ever unsure of your results, or feel your goals have not been met, my advice is to be respectful and explain how you feel to your Plastic Surgeon. If they get defensive or are rude or dismissive, find another Plastic Surgeon. You also deserve courtesy and professionalism.

If you are pleased, tell your Plastic Surgeon. The most treasured gift I have ever gotten from a patient has been a heartfelt “thank you.” It means the world to us.


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