Emerging Plastic Surgery Techniques: A Fad or Here to Stay?

It seems like a new cosmetic product, technique or device emerges almost daily — typically with great marketing fanfare. Some will become excellent additions to our treatment options. Botox®, injectable fillers and fat grafts are great examples of breakthroughs that have become proven, accepted standards. However, the majority of new treatments have proven to be ineffective or even unsafe. So, how can you, as a potential patient, know what’s worthwhile and what’s not?

What to Watch Out For

In today’s world, the media buzz tends to get more attention than good, solid facts. But when it comes to medical interventions, you want to make sure you’re looking at the science behind them. During your quest for information, watch out for some common traps.

The “Latest and Greatest” Attraction

The first thing you should be aware of is that it’s human nature to be attracted to novelty. Cognitive scientists have long recognized that people have deeply ingrained biases toward things that are new. We tend to assume that new equals better — not because there’s evidence or proof to support that, but only because it’s new. That’s why the “latest and greatest” sales pitch works. People are wired to get drawn in to this way of thinking. It’s important to understand that the majority of new treatments and products aren’t better (and can often be worse) than established, proven ones. So, when you hear about the latest “advancements,” remember to approach them with a healthy amount of skepticism.

Prestige and Profit

The second thing to consider is the profit/prestige motive. Of course, a company that makes a new cosmetic treatment wants to hype up its product and claim the most amazing results it can. Every company’s primary objective is to make the largest possible profit. And if a doctor develops a new procedure … well, that’s their “baby,” and they often can’t help but believe it’s the best. However, as a savvy patient, it’s important not to be overly swayed by glossy ads or the enthusiasm of an innovator.

Biased Reviews

Searching the internet for reviews seems like a good place to find out how well a product works. The problem is we almost never know the source of a review. I’ll share a great example. A few years ago, a fast-growing company called Lifestyle Lift was promoting its “revolutionary” new lunchtime facelift. Unfortunately, there were a number of problems with Lifestyle Lift. First of all, the procedure wasn’t new at all. It had basically been around for decades and was considered by most plastic surgeons as inferior to standard techniques. A second problem was that Lifestyle Lift paid its employees to create fake identities online to give rave reviews of surgical results and experiences. In 2009, the company admitted to creating these false reviews and was fined $300,000 by the New York attorney general. Unfortunately, people that want to make money don’t always do it ethically. That’s why you have to take a critical look at the facts instead of getting drawn in by the glitz and glamour.

How to Get Legitimate Answers

So, how do you know which new things are good, which are not, and which we just don’t have enough information about to draw a conclusion? First, approach it with a bit of skepticism — make them prove that what they’re offering is good.

You may want to begin with conducting some research online. Just be sure to go to trustworthy sites like the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery or larger rating sites, such as RealSelf.com. Then, after you do a little research on your own, schedule a consultation with a well-trained plastic surgeon who can explain all your options. And, if the treatment is new, you should consider getting a second (or even third) opinion.

During your consultation(s), be sure to ask:

    1. How much information is known about the technique?
    2. Why he or she feels one treatment is better than another?
    3. What are reasonable expectations from each procedure?

Emory Aesthetic Center

Emory Aesthetic Center offers complimentary consultations with experienced, well-trained plastic surgeons. We’ll answer all your questions about different techniques available and work with you to choose the best options for you. Schedule your consultation today.

About Felmont Eaves III, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Felmont F. Eaves III, M.D., F.A.C.S., leads the Emory Aesthetic Center as Medical Director. He is double board-certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Eaves’s leadership is apparent in his impressive accumulation of distinctions. He serves as Director of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the board that certifies plastic surgeons nationally. Previously, he served as President of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; he is currently a Trustee.

 

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