Why does so much plastic surgery end up mediocre?

Read on for my thoughts on an unsettling trend.

Great Expectations

No one, absolutely no one, goes into a cosmetic surgery procedure with mediocre expectations. So why then are mediocre results on the rise? Image by Freepik.


No one signs up for cosmetic plastic surgery with ho-hum expectations. 

That’s not to say expectations shouldn’t be managed – going into a cosmetic surgery expecting to come out looking like this week’s favorite celebrity is also not advised (and a huge red flag). 


But when a patient pursues cosmetic plastic surgery, it’s reasonable for them to expect the best possible outcome for their starting anatomy. 


So why are we seeing such a disturbing trend towards mediocre results? Ones that aren’t bad but leave something to be desired, and often end with the patient seeking costly revisions. 


Mediocre plastic surgery is… fine. 


What makes a mediocre result, and how does it differ from a bad one? 


At the heart of both is whether the patient is happy – one person’s bad result could be another person’s ideal outcome. There’s certainly some subjectivity involved when deciding what’s ‘beautiful’. I’ve commented before on unnatural cosmetic surgery results in my shorts that are often very intentional.


When deciding on a plastic surgery or surgeon, crossing your fingers, shutting your eyes, and hoping for the best is not advised. Do your due diligence and homework. Image by wayhomestudio for Freepik.


Typically, a bad result is where a procedure is not performed properly and arguably introduces a functional and/or aesthetic deformity. A mediocre result is… more nuanced. 


A mediocre result can be performed properly, and arguably does its job aesthetically and functionally, but there’s something about it, usually artistically, that just doesn’t deliver that ‘wow’ factor. It could be that the surgery is more detectable than the patient would have wanted and/or doesn’t deliver ideal balance to the face. For example, a mediocre rhinoplasty might make the nose smaller, or look like a specific ‘type’ of nose that doesn’t suit a patient's face. 


It looks… fine. 


I’m fond of saying that great plastic surgery whispers. When we see before and after photos of people who have had great plastic surgery, words like ‘refreshed’, ‘awake’, ‘youthful’, and ‘healthy’ come to mind. Great cosmetic plastic surgery strives not to change how someone looks (which can be an incredibly traumatic experience), but to reveal a ‘better, more balanced’ version of the patient. Perfection also isn’t the goal (check out my recent short on how perfect symmetry is uncanny, not attractive) but creating beauty through balance is. 


Mediocre results? Whether it’s body, hair transplants, or facial plastic surgery, mediocre results often fall short of achieving that elusive balance. Worse, patients often find themselves spending more time and money chasing the results they really wanted through revision surgery. Sometimes? That initial, mediocre plastic surgery can make subsequent revisions that much harder. 


Money Talks

One of the big reasons I suspect mediocre results are proliferating online comes down to money. Elective surgery can be lucrative, and the temptation is sometimes too great, both the doctors who convince themselves they’re qualified after a few weekends of training to perform a difficult surgery or clinics that offer every surgery under the sun. 


I’m a big proponent of specialization. Though I’m qualified to perform multiple facial plastic surgeries, I’ve specialized and honed my practice to my Elelyft (lip lift) and hair transplants. My goal is to be an expert in my field and excel at these procedures, thereby providing the best outcomes possible to my patients. For me, specialization is the path to delivering exceptional results. Not all plastic surgeons feel that way. 

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Added to all of that is the ease of which images can be altered online now. Before and after images are the portfolio of any good plastic surgeon, but with the overly competitive environment social media can create, and the ease of which images can be tweaked, bad actors are getting bolder. A number of my recent shorts have focused on these ‘too good to be true’ results, and it’s turning out that many of them are outright fraudulent, like the man from Turkey in this reaction video who it turns out is suing the clinic that he claims grossly misrepresented his results.


If it looks too good to be true? Chances are it is. With the temptation of big profits, patients searching for the best deal, easy weekend training sessions, and photoshop, choosing a surgeon can be a bit like the wild west. 


The other element to all of this I’d be remiss to leave out is the tendency of patients to chase that ever elusive ‘deal’. The cost of elective plastic surgeries can vary depending on the state, city, country, and of course the experience of the plastic surgeon – and great surgery can be found at a variety of different price points (there are of course great surgeons in Turkey, Canada, and other places). But if the price looks too good to be true? It probably is. There are unfortunately unscrupulous people out there who prey on individuals desperate for surgery and looking for a deal. No one needs cosmetic surgery, and you definitely shouldn’t be bargain-shopping for a surgeon. It’s a recipe for disaster. Your health is precious, and you shouldn’t put it, or your aesthetic results, at risk. 


There are a few things out there no one should bargain shop for. Plastic surgery is absolutely one of them. Though a sky high price tag also doesn’t guarantee a good result, if the biggest selling point is a sale or deal, you should run. Image by KamranAydinov for Freepik


Questions to ask yourself if you’re considering plastic surgery

This list isn’t exhaustive, but they’re things you should consider, especially if you’re prioritizing cost over expertise. 

1. Are your expectations reasonable? 
2. Do you understand the limits of the procedure? 
3. Have you done due diligence to make sure you understand the risks? 
4. Have you looked at the surgeon’s before and after portfolio to understand what their typical results look like? Do the images look ‘too perfect to be true’? 
5. Is the surgeon really qualified to be performing the procedure? 
6. Do they perform this surgery regularly? 
7. Was the consultation sufficient? 

Were you properly screened as a candidate and did the surgeon take the time to understand what you want? 


For a list of highly qualified plastic surgeons, in their prospective procedures, please feel free to check out our Beauty Experts page. 

Written by
Kristi Charish
Edited by
Dr. Gary Linkov
The content of this newsletter is for entertainment and educational purposes only. This content is not meant to provide any medical advice or treat any medical conditions. Patients must be evaluated by an appropriate healthcare provider on an individual basis and treatment must be tailored to meet that patient’s needs. Results and particular outcomes are not guaranteed.



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