Most Popular in:

Medical Esthetics

Email This Item! Print This Item!

Clients vs. Patients

By: Marc Ronert, MD, PhD
Posted: January 29, 2010, from the January 2010 issue of

$string.toUpperCase($string.substring($addOnType, 0, 1))$string.substring($addOnType, 1, $string.length($addOnType))s

page 2 of 4

A client, on the other hand, will self-diagnose but expects treatment from a physician in order to enhance an existing normal body function or appearance via elective surgeries or procedures. Even though the diagnosis already exists, any respectable physician will verify its accuracy before treating. The tricky part is that any treatment or elective surgery could lead to complications or worsen a condition, such as when a face lift treating lax skin damages a facial nerve that was properly functioning before the procedure.

A segment of clients also exists that obsesses about flaws in appearance that are either minor or imagined due to a chronic mental condition called body dysmorphic disorder. There is no course of treatment or elective procedure a plastic surgeon can offer someone who suffers from this disorder, as it is not resolved through body modification. Plastic surgeons are trained during their education to identify these clients, who then turn into patients with a need to seek psychiatric help.

The client is always right?

From rhinoplasty to liposuction, the popularity of cosmetic and elective procedures is skyrocketing, as is pressure on insurance companies to cover these costs. Plastic surgery is more popular than ever, and physicians are left to determine on a case-by-case basis whether to proceed with a client.

Loose guidelines exist, such as proceeding with clients whose decision to have surgery is not based solely on a body-image issue. But without an official set of guidelines set by a governing organization, such as the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), physicians often report feeling pressure to move forward with a procedure regardless of the client’s condition.

With millions of procedures performed and billions of dollars spent on cosmetic and elective surgeries every year, it is impractical to think most physicians do not want a slice of the pie. And to some extent, it is understandable. Most procedures are not covered by insurance, and not having to deal with negotiated rates and red tape is a luxury most doctors don’t enjoy. This makes plastic surgery not only more appealing, but also more profitable.