Plastic surgery is not magic; it is real surgery. While a great deal can frequently be accomplished, the patient and surgeon must understand each other to develop an effective surgical plan that you wish to carry out. They must work together before, during and after surgery to achieve the best possible outcome. My goal was always to attain the best surgical result for both airway and appearance, with the greatest possible safety.
We worked very hard for our patients. Each member of my staff shared my philosophy. Patients needed to understand the limitations of what was possible, and follow it through to completion. None of us wanted an unhappy patient or an imperfect surgical result. We all want things to go “just right,” every time. But that would not be surgery, that would be magic.
Nature takes over when the operation is finished and the healing begins. Our most satisfied patients understood the limitations of cosmetic surgery, were motivated to improve themselves, and were realistic about the outcome. These were also the patients who got the best results.
Some time ago, I was a Visiting Professor at a residency program; and on the day I was to leave, one of the students asked, “Now that we are all going out to start our practices, what is the most important principle we should observe?”
My answer was easy. I told them never to forget what a privilege it is to do the work that we do. Difficult as it is, medicine is a wonderful form of service. Beyond that, the most important ingredient in a successful outcome for the patient is clear communication and mutual trust between the patient and surgeon. It is that framework that defines my philosophy.
-Mark B. Constantian, MD, FACS