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Gifting cosmetic surgery: A delicate balance

With the holidays approaching, many are wondering if gifting a cosmetic procedure is appropriate. Personally, I discourage this practice as it tends to trivialize a potentially invasive intervention, shifting the focus from a surgical or medical procedure to a 'dream come true'. It must always be remembered that although cosmetic surgery is common, it is still surgery with all of its risks. I have to stress that the decision to have a cosmetic procedure is a very individual one and is always ultimately up to the patient and her/his surgeon. However, if gifting a cosmetic procedure is on your holiday to-do list, here are some things to consider.

The best place to start is to determine the recipient's desires and concerns. This is always easier if the recipient has already expressed interest in having some work done. If the prospective patient is interested in a procedure or service, hopefully he or she will confirm that desire. If they aren't interested in a service at all, then pushing the issue is not a good idea.

If your friend or family member is in fact interested, the next step is likely a little bit of research to get some idea of what procedures or products are available to address the patient's concerns, and also to find the names of reputable, responsible doctors in your community who offer these services. The ASPS Find-a-Surgeon tool is a great resource as it ensures the doctor is a board certified plastic surgeon who's qualified to perform cosmetic procedures. Once you choose a doctor, a call to them will usually result in a ballpark figure of what price to expect which allows a budget to be established. Then, the easiest way to proceed is for the gift giver to put a note in a card to the recipient stating a desire or a willingness to contribute to that person's procedure or service.

Remember that even though the gift has been given, in no way does that mean that the doctor is obliged to provide any service. If the doctor does not believe that the procedure is in the patient's best interest, then it is up to that doctor to tell the patient his/her opinion and provide guidance. Even if the patient is a suitable candidate for a desired procedure, it is still critical to review the risks of that procedure and have the patient understand them before embarking on any procedure.

Finally, even if the doctor determines that the patient is suitable for surgery and that the patient understands the potential downsides, the patient must always have the free will to make the choice of whether or not to have the procedure.


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