Timid to tuck?

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

There's no stupid question, says breast and body plastic surgeon Dr. Christine Sullivan. But when it comes to cosmetic surgery, many can be embarrassing, admits the owner of Sullivan Centre in Worthington. Different patients have different levels of comfort. Some may feel awkward talking about sex. Others may be concerned their questions will make them sound vain. We asked local cosmetic surgeons for the questions that commonly bring a tint of rouge to their patient's cheeks. And then we got the answers.

Will the surgeon or his staff be disgusted by my body during my consultation?

"We get that question a lot," says Dr. Jeffrey Donaldson of Donaldson Plastic Surgery in Columbus. "Their perception is other people will be disgusted by it. Usually that's not the case. There's a spectrum of appearance. In a plastic surgeon's office, that's what we see all day long. It's nothing shocking to people who do this every day."

Should I feel guilty?

Patients sometimes feel more guilty than embarrassed, says Dr. Stephen Smith Jr., director of the Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Ohio State Medical Center and the medical director of Smith Facial Plastics in Dublin. This sense of remorse often comes more from changing family-given features, such as the nose, eyelids or neck. "A lot of patients don't like to lose that commonality with mom or dad or their ethnicity," he says. "We try to be conservative in those efforts if that's the patient's wish. It's important we don't impart our aesthetic ideals on patients."

Guilt also can creep in when patients who have come for cosmetic reasons see other patients who need surgery because of an accident or skin cancer. "Sometimes they tell me they feel bad that their issue isn't as meaningful as the next person's," Smith says. "I disagree with that."

Will it be obvious that I've had plastic surgery?

Many patients fear that bruising and swelling will immediately alert others they've had plastic surgery. But the level of bruising and scarring depends on the experience and training of your plastic surgeon, Donaldson says. With advancements in the field, techniques are less invasive, and cuts and injections can be hidden in the folds of the body and face. If scars are prominent, there are methods to reduce them. "Good plastic surgery should be subtle and not obvious," Donaldson says.

Others are concerned about how to take time off of work without co-workers knowing they had surgery. Donaldson often signs a doctor's note saying the person is under his care and needs time away or light duty. "A lot of people are concerned with that, but less than there was before," he says. "Plastic surgery is much more mainstream today than it was 10 years ago."

Will my results resemble the over-the-top job of a celebrity?

"Will my nose look like Michael Jackson's?" some surgery patients ask. Those seeking Botox or fillers ask, "Will I look like the Housewives of Beverly Hills? Will I look overdone?" No, says Dr. Sumit Bapna of Ohio Facial Plastics in Dublin-not unless you want to. "We want your results to look natural," he says. "The physician has a lot of control."

When can I resume sexual activity?

Sexual questions are always the go-to embarrassing inquiry, says Dr. M. Bath, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Bella Cosmedica in Pickerington. "So we try to make mention of it so patients don't have to ask," he says. "For example, we say no sucking motion like on a straw."

Also, answers vary depending on the type of procedure and sexual activity. The more invasive the procedure, the longer you will need to wait, says Sullivan, of the Sullivan Centre. For example, a tummy tuck can leave you sidelined for three to four weeks, but liposuction doesn't hamper sex for long at all.

On the face front, less invasive procedures such as Botox and fillers don't force patients to change their habits. But facial surgery is a different story. Bapna, of Ohio Facial Plastics, tells patients to be careful for four to six weeks (the latter for especially for rhinoplasty).

How do I explain this to my children?

Mothers trying to set a good example for their daughters often worry about the connotations associated with plastic surgery. "Every parent needs to address that within their own comfort zone," Donaldson says. "Some parents hide it and don't discuss. Others say, 'This is a part of my body that has changed through birth or weight change, and it gives me more confidence moving forward.' "

What if I don't like the results?

Tell your physician. Most surgeons agree this question should always be brought up if it's an issue. Some see patients, unsatisfied with results from another surgeon, who come to them looking for a fix up. "I stand by my results and take care of the patient until they are satisfied," Donaldson says. "There are touch-up procedures available." But you do have to ask.

Ask Away

Local docs share a few questions patients should always ask

What is your surgeon's specialty?

Beyond just checking accreditation, make sure your physician is trained to treat the area of your body where you are having surgery. That might sound like an obvious question, but it can be an issue, says Dr. Christine Sullivan. Dr. Jeffrey Donaldson agrees, saying he's seen physicians in family practice or emergency medicine offering breast augmentation. "Know you are in a place with someone who's been properly trained," he says.

Can I see previous cases?

"It's important for patients to find a surgeon who will show them some results," advises Dr. Stephen Smith Jr. He will show patients before-and-after pictures of treated patients (only with their permission) so prospective patients can see real work that he's done. This will help illustrate the quality of work your surgeon is capable of.

When can I fly?

"There are procedures where we don't want you flying, especially the more invasive body procedures," says Dina Maynard, a skin care specialist at the Sullivan Centre.