Get Real: Putting Reality Into Extreme Makeovers

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The before and after shots are nothing short of miraculous. Before, a jutting chin and crooked teeth. After, an entirely new jaw and a perfect smile. Before, facial wrinkles and saggy eyelids. After, a fresh, youthful face radiating confidence. Before, an out-of-proportion posterior. After, a gluteus maximus to die for. Before, a bustline hovering south of the border, After, irrefutable proof that skillful surgeons can move and shape mountains.

Surgical body enhancements have improved the lives and confidence levels of many. But when a whole menu of procedures is done on one person in a two- month period—with the professional help of fitness trainers, hair stylists, make-up artists and wardrobe consultants—the results can be astonishing. Entertainment, drama and sensationalism are the hallmarks of TV’s extreme makeover reality shows.

The Patient’s Role

In the world where the rest of us live, however, plastic surgery is handled quite differently. “Having multiple procedures at one time is not something most people can afford or tolerate, mentally or physically,” says David M. Whiteman, a plastic surgeon. “There’s nothing wrong with combining procedures. In fact, some go together very well. But people with jobs and families can’t just disappear for two or three months like they do on TV. The good news is that you can get excellent surgical results in more limited procedures if you add a healthy diet and exercise.”

Whiteman makes sure his patients understand their roles in the success of their procedures. His staff includes a lifestyle specialist who teaches surgical candidates about embracing healthy diets and regular exercise so they can maintain and improve their lifestyles for a true makeover.

In TV land, surgeons and dentists get to choose their patients. ReaI—world plastic surgeons try to be selective about the patients on whom they operate and the nature of the procedures. Whiteman says he decides if a patient is a good surgical candidate based on his or her motivation, expectation, and mental and physical readiness for surgery because he wants all of his patients to have a positive response.

Thinking About Plastic Surgery?

If you’re considering plastic surgery, Whiteman recommends finding a board-certified plastic surgeon and then having a very open discussion with him or her regarding your questions, concerns and goals. As the patient, your job is to have realistic expectations and goals and a comfort level with your physician’s experience. Your physician’s job is to fully explain the risks, benefits and limitations of the procedure you’re considering. An open rapport between physician and patient based on trust and respect is a major asset, especially in the case of complications or when additional treatments are needed. Patients should feel comfortable discussing their surgical results with their physicians.

“When contemplating surgery, consider how long the procedure will take, whether it will require a hospital stay or if it can be done on an outpatient basis,” Whiteman says. “You should also seriously consider having the surgery at a hospital that has earned an accreditation from the joint Commission Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.” Surgical patients should give themselves adequate time for post recovery. According to Whiteman, most recover fully in one to two weeks, though some may need two weeks to a month, depending on the procedure.

Popular Plastic

Surgery Procedures Board-certified plastic surgeons offer corrective procedures for all your parts, from head to toe. Whether you want face and eyelid lifts, breast enlargements or reductions, or tummy tucks and liposuction, there isn’t a spot they can’t fine-tune or improve.