Cosmetic surgery is elective, and therefore a patient’s health and well-being are more important than the outcome. It is relatively common for plastic surgeons to perform multiple cosmetic procedures during a single operation. Because plastic surgery is a form of art, this approach can be advantageous in that it can allow a surgeon to continually assess and fine-tune a patient’s overall appearance as he or she works to sculpt the patient’s body.
Like all other surgeries, cosmetic surgery involves expenses associated with anesthesia, the surgical facility, and the surgeon’s fees. By undergoing multiple procedures at once, a patient might be able to achieve some savings in these areas. Plus, some surgeons offer bundled procedures at a discounted rate. Therefore, a prospective patient might be interested in a multi-procedure operation as a way to possibly achieve the comprehensive results he or she desires with a smaller investment of both time and money.
Nevertheless, there are also some disadvantages associated with a multi-procedure approach to cosmetic surgery. As with any other form of surgery, plastic surgery involves some level of risk, and when multiple procedures are performed during a single operation, that level of risk can be amplified. One area of concern is the increased potential for complications, such as bleeding and infection. A further concern is the risk associated with the extended time a patient must spend under general anesthesia, which can lead to an increased chance of cardiovascular problems and a longer and more arduous recovery period.
Factors to Consider in Determining the Optimal Number of Procedures
So, exactly how many cosmetic procedures can be performed at once? There is no clear-cut answer to that question. Rather, the number will vary based on several key factors, including the patient’s age, baseline and cardiovascular health, and pain tolerance; the nature of the procedures; and the skill levels of the surgeon and anesthesiologist. Some other important considerations include:
• The area(s) of the body to be treated – If the focus of the surgery is on a single area of the body, such as the face or breasts/abdominal region, it might make sense for a surgeon to perform complementary procedures during one operation. For example, if a patient desires a tummy tuck and breast augmentation, a surgeon might perform both during a single surgical session as a way to achieve overall rejuvenation in one step for the patient.
• Time available to devote to healing – Even though combined procedures result in a single recovery period, this approach will usually lengthen and intensify it. Therefore, if a patient can only take off one week from work to devote to healing, a surgeon might advise against having a tummy tuck and breast augmentation performed at the same time. On the other hand, a tummy tuck/breast augmentation combination surgery might be a feasible option for a patient who is able to take off two full weeks from work to recover.
• The surgeon’s recommendations and preferences – While it is often possible for a surgeon to perform more than one cosmetic procedure during a single surgical session, patient safety must always be the top priority. Therefore, recommendations will often vary among individual surgeons and for individual patients. For example, a surgeon might feel comfortable performing a four-hour “mommy makeover” – which entails a tummy tuck, breast augmentation, and breast lift – on a healthy thirty-two-year-old, but that same surgeon might not recommend a simultaneous rhinoplasty and liposuction for an older patient. Furthermore, surgeon fatigue is a key factor to consider as well, and a surgeon must take into account his or her own limitations and comfort level and advise the patient accordingly. Prospective patients must keep in mind that cosmetic surgery is an art form, which often requires a surgeon to take his or her time in order to achieve an optimal result.
In general, combining a few relatively minor procedures can be safe for a healthy patient when an appropriate time limit on anesthesia is enforced and a suitable treatment plan is selected. Some examples of commonly combined plastic surgeries include an eyelid lift, face lift, and neck lift; breast augmentation, breast lift, and tummy tuck (a “mommy makeover”); and a tummy tuck and liposuction.
Consult with a Board Certified Surgeon
As rewarding as a cosmetic transformation can be, it is vital for a patient to understand the risks of surgery before consenting to any procedure. Safety should always be the number one factor in planning cosmetic surgery, and the decision to combine multiple procedures – or to undergo any type of plastic surgery, for that matter – should be made carefully under the guidance of a trusted and qualified surgeon who is experienced in performing the procedures sought. To ensure an optimal outcome, prospective patients are advised to consult with a cosmetic surgeon who is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Katie Perry is an online content editor in the Tampa Bay area. She posts articles about plastic surgery
topics and procedures including breast augmentation, tummy tucks, and more.