Summary: So your New Jersey facelift surgery is just around the corner—you’ve made all the arrangements. You’ve got a nice Hoboken area hotel booked for your recovery. You know the area, the surgeons, and what the procedure entails. But have you stopped to watch what may actually happen to you? That is, are you at all interested in watching someone else’s plastic surgery to prepare yourself for your own? Would that even help? It’s an interesting question, and one that’s worth pursuing in a little more detail, especially because plastic surgery is so often looked at as a kind of miracle cure.

plastic surgery

Watch and Record Your Plastic Surgery?

Do you want to see your plastic surgery? Certainly, you want to see the results—and often those results are fabulous. That’s not what I’m talking about. No, the other day, I was doing some research and I came across a blog that showcased a facelift operation. The plastic surgeon performing the operation mentions that he believes in complete transparency and goes on to warn about graphic content in the video. So, this brings up a question—is this something we want to see? Or, when we say it another way: is this something you should see?

It’s an interesting question, and there are several positives and negatives to be thought through. First of all, plastic surgery is one of those arenas that is infamous for patients who have unrealistic expectations. It’s true that, especially in the beginning, many plastic surgery candidates think of plastic surgery as something of a magic wand—a way to sculpt the body into any shape you might wish. And there are plenty of plastic surgeons out there who do little to dispel that notion (or, perhaps it might be more accurate to place a part of blame for this on device manufacturers, who promote novel technologies that get results but do not cause pain and discomfort). Regardless, the myth persists that plastic surgery can accomplish anything. The myth is so pervasive, in fact, that most plastic surgeons have taken to listing “realistic expectations” in the requirements for candidates.

Dispelling the Myth of Plastic Surgery as Miraculous

There’s no doubt that watching videos of plastic surgery will dispel at least part of this myth. Plastic surgery is not magic—it’s science, and, sometimes, it can be a little grotesque. Plastic surgeons have gotten particularly good at creating fantastic results, but sometimes this requires techniques that might look pretty graphic in the operating room. As the patient, of course, you’d usually be under general anesthetic for these procedures (or at least heavily drugged), so, of course you won’t really care about what it looks like then—you only care about what it looks like when you wake up. And that’s normal.

Still, it’s a good idea to have a fair understanding of what actually happens during your procedure, and seeing a visual representation of that procedure is usually a far more effective way of digesting what will happen than a simple explanation. It’s one thing to say that, during a facelift excess tissue will be eliminated and remaining tissue will be tightened—it’s another to see it. And, perhaps, seeing the procedure performed will lead to some extra respect of the recovery process. Often, your recovery will come with some strict instructions—and it’s not always easy to get patients to faithfully execute those instructions. But often, we suspect, this is because patients do not have a full appreciation of everything that goes into the procedure.

Viewing Your Own Plastic Surgery

Of course, in order to view these operations, willing subjects are needed. Now, I’m phrasing that a little diabolically, but it’s also true. Volunteers are needed—and it’s exceptionally important that they be volunteers. Not only are there all kinds of ethics to consider, but also HIPAA laws and other factors that need to be taken into account. So, your plastic surgeon likely won’t pressure you into helping him or her make a video of your procedure (and if they do, that’s probably not a good plastic surgeon)—but many will record your procedure for internal purposes. In much the same way that football teams will watch “game tape”—footage of the game—in order to learn more about their mistakes or to improve their technique, plastic surgeons will watch game tape of their own surgeries for educational and improvement purposes. In most cases, plastic surgeons will still ask your permission to record the operation. You might even get your own copy to watch over and over again… or to put on a shelf and never see again.

Whether you want to watch your surgery or not, the emphasis on transparency is a good thing. You should always know what you’re getting into and always know what the limitations are. Because plastic surgery is not a miracle cure and often the limitations of the operations are dictated by your body’s ability to heal. Seeing the trauma that your body will undergo will give you a clearer perspective on what’s possible and what’s not. Understanding these limitations will paint a better picture—a more accurate picture—of what you want out of plastic surgery and what, in the end, plastic surgery can do for you. Because in most cases, plastic surgery is worth it. Almost all patients look back at the experience and say they were glad they did it. But that will never be true if expectations are skewed beyond the possibilities of reality. Plastic surgery, after all, is about achieving your best body possible—emphasis on the possible.