Doctor-Patient Communication May Help Lessen “Buyer’s Remorse” after Cosmetic Surgery

Heidi Montag after plastic surgeryABC News reports that reality TV star Heidi Montag is considering a breast reduction after getting 10 plastic surgery procedures in one day earlier this year—including a breast augmentation that gave her a G cup.

Buyer’s Remorse

Do plastic surgery patients sometimes have “buyer’s remorse”?

Dr. Timothy Miller, chief of plastic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, says it’s very rare. “Maybe I’ve seen it a few times in my practice,” he adds.

On the other hand, Chicago plastic surgeon Dr. Julius Few feels it may be on the rise. “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,” he says.

Patients who have “buyer’s remorse” after plastic surgery are likely troubled by deeper issues, says Ann Kearney-Cooke, a psychologist 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,” she says.

Communication is Key

The plastic surgeons do agree that regret can potentially be avoided if patients and doctors recognize and address the problem.

Dr. Few employs a therapist in his practice for those patients who need it. “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 problems—go talk to a psychiatrist or confide in somebody else,” says Dr. Miller.

Communication between the patient and doctor is critical. “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.