Dialectics in Plastic Surgery

Dialectics, for those of you who were unaware, are two seeming opposites that can both be true. Still confused? I am happy to expand on this topic. It was complicated for me as well.

The statements “I am doing my best” and “ I can do better” create a dialectic. On first glance, if you are doing your best, how can you be able to do better? I struggled with this. I then realized that doing my best at this moment means that with my state of mind, physical abilities, distractions and time constraints, the results are my maximum effort for these conditions. I can do better indicates that with further training, a better night’s sleep, more experience, I can still learn to improve.

What does this have to do with Plastic Surgery? I have had, over my more than 20 year private practice career, instances where I did the surgery perfectly, yet I could see ways to improve the result afterward. I did my best, but I also believe that a better result can be obtained. These are the key to being a great Plastic Surgeon, understanding you always do your best but that you can do better as well. Without this, you either doubt yourself or never improve.

If a patient comes to me after having surgery and points out an area that is not perfect, I remain humble and open minded. I explain that I did everything perfectly, but acknowledge that improvements might be possible. That is what a touch up or revision procedure is all about.

It is important in my profession, as well as in life, to understand other peoples’ perspectives, as well as to share with them your own. Both of you can be correct. That is how I choose to interact with my patients. Mutual respect and understanding can solve virtually any situation.