About 10 miles outside of America’s capital, Samir Rao, MD, performs facial plastic surgery and other aesthetic procedures at the Center for Plastic Surgery℠ in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Since coming to the DC area, he’s observed that the aesthetic is a little more subtle than other major cities in America. “The aesthetic in Washington, DC, is probably a bit more subdued compared to places like Southern California or Miami,” he says. “I remember talking to a friend of mine who has a plastic surgery practice in Dallas. We were talking about breast implant sizes. Some of the larger breast implants that I would place in breast augmentation in Washington are some of the smaller- to medium-sized implants that he places,” he shares.
Regardless of your intended aesthetic outcome and the area of the country in which you reside, there are a few baseline tips that the 41-year-old surgeon suggests you should abide by before going under the needle or knife. Keep reading for Dr. Rao’s pre-plastic surgery and aesthetics tips — plus, the treatments he performs most frequently, and the ones he has tried firsthand.
Spotlyte: What would you say are the most popular treatments in your office?
SR: As far as nonsurgical things, it's injectable wrinkle reducers, fillers, and lasers. If you're looking at surgical procedures, breast augmentations, liposuction, abdominoplasties [tummy tucks], and mommy makeovers. We [also] do a lot of facelifts in our practice.
Spotlyte: Do you personally get injectable wrinkle reducers?
SR: Oh, yeah. Injectable wrinkle reducers every three months. I just do my forehead. I don't have any elevens or crow's feet, fortunately, right now. I'm sure I will in the future.
Injectable wrinkle reducers temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face, including the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet; they should not be used more frequently than every three months. Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, both injectable wrinkle reducers and injectable fillers have potential risks and side effects. Talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you.
Spotlyte: For someone who is considering plastic surgery — but has no idea where to start — what would you recommend they do first?
SR: The first thing is to make sure that you’ve done research to make sure you’re going to see someone who's qualified to do what you are interested in doing. Make sure that the doctor is a board-certified plastic surgeon by the American Board of Plastic Surgery®.
Spotlyte: Any tips for preparing for a plastic surgery consultation?
SR: Have a little bit of focus on what you want to address. For the most part, that does happen — someone comes in for a breast augmentation or a breast reduction or a tummy tuck. But, one challenge is when you see a patient who comes in because they want to know everything you can do to make them feel better. I don't think that's a good way to approach things. It's good to have a little bit of focus. If someone says they want stuff done from head to toe, we're not going to do all that at once. We would have to stage certain things. It's about patient safety.
Spotlyte: Any advice for communicating your intended aesthetic outcome to your surgeon?
SR: Bringing in photographs is an excellent way to communicate [what you want to achieve] and can really help with the expectation management process. Words can mean different things to different people. A lot of patients do this Brazilian butt lift procedure. They'll bring in pictures of buttocks and say, "Wow, I really like this butt." Then, I look at them and say, "Well, when you look at that person's body and the available fat, and how their shape is versus yours, that's not really a result that would be achievable for you."
Spotlyte: What’s the biggest challenge you face with patients?
SR: There are a couple. At the end of the day, we are in the expectation management business. There are patients who I will operate on who I think have the best results imaginable and they may not be as happy. There are other patients who you operate on that you think, "Wow, that could have been better," and they are over-the-moon happy. My job is to give someone a result that they're going to be happy with. I think a lot of our failures aren't because we didn't do a good job in surgery or we didn't produce a good surgical result — it’s that we failed to adequately manage people's expectations.
Spotlyte: Any predictions on the future of plastic surgery and/or other aesthetic treatments?
SR: I think the future of our profession is going to be more about [non-surgical] things like injectables, and a lot more technology — things like [body contouring devices] or lasers, [and] better technologies that involve nonsurgical or minimally invasive skin tightening. Those things will just continue to get better and better.
Spotlyte: What’s your best skincare advice?
SR: If someone wants to start to do anything to focus on improving their appearance, I think your skin is the first thing you should tackle. I've been using a retinoid for 11 years. I think that's really part of [an effective] regimen.
Retinol shouldn't be used by women who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.
Spotlyte: Do you do any other skincare treatments, like facials?
SR: It's not that I'm opposed to doing them. The logistics and reality of my schedule are that I'm in the office and I'm busy seeing patients, and then I have to run into surgery. Even though I have all this stuff right there, I don't necessarily have the time to do it.
I've done a little bit of laser hair removal on my back. I can't get on a proper cycle of doing the six treatments that need to be six weeks apart, because I just don't seem to have the time!