Those who have buyer’s remorse after plastic surgery are likely troubled by deeper issues, says Ann Kearney-Cooke, a psychologist in private practice who specializes in weight and body image issues. “[The surgery] changes the look, but if you have a problem that you haven’t resolved, you’ll have a temporary positive feeling, but then something else is the problem,” notes Kearney-Cooke.
“I think [plastic surgery remorse] is actually increasing, and I think in part it’s increasing because of the drop in reimbursement by insurance companies, which is driving doctors in other specialties into the plastic surgery market,” said Dr. Julius Few, a plastic surgeon in Chicago.
Dr. Timothy Miller, chief of plastic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, feels differently: “Maybe I’ve seen it a few times in my practice, but it’s very rare.”
While there’s no consensus among plastic surgeons as to whether there’s been an increase in the number of people who experience remorse after cosmetic procedures, they agree that it can potentially be avoided if patients and doctors recognize and address the problem.
Dr. Few has a therapist employed in his practice. “We know in plastic surgery that if somebody has undue stress, the risk of complication is higher,” he says.
“Most plastic surgeons will tell patients to work out their problemsâ??go talk to a psychiatrist or confide in somebody else,” says Dr. Miller.
Communication between the patient and doctor is also key. “It’s really important that both the patient and the physician understand what the motivation is behind the surgery,” said Dr. Malcolm Roth, a plastic surgeon in Brooklyn, N.Y.