Giving Patients The Once-Over: A Conversation With Dr. Olivia Hutchinson

What do plastic surgeons often overlook before they operate?

They don’t know enough about their patients.

What do you find out about your patients and why is it important?

I think about the patient as a person, and I think this is important in deciding which plastic surgery procedures are indicated and in obtaining the best results. I want to know not just about what part of their appearance they want to change and why, but about the whole patient as an individual, including her lifestyle and daily activities, how she eats and exercises, her family and work environment and stresses, whether she’s in a stable relationship or recently separated or divorced, her current pertinent circumstances, both good and bad.

Surgery is one component of a patient’s life and her mental state can affect her ability to heal properly and to appreciate the results. Surgery releases the hormone cortisol as part the body’s response to a stressful situation, and it’s important that the body returns to normal following the stressful event. Many processes are involved in healing and it is important to optimize patients before surgery so their recovery is smooth and uncomplicated. There are benefits of anti-oxidants in foods and of stress reduction for both combating aging and boosting the immune system to help with healing.

So you interview your patients?

Yes, we have an initial consultation that lasts about an hour, and then a second or third visit depending on patient needs. I think patients appreciate that I take the time with each one of them individually.

Do you ever decide not to operate?

Absolutely. If I feel the patient has unrealistic expectations, or our aesthetic ideals do not match, or there are issues in a patient’s life that make her an unsuitable candidate, then I won’t operate. In some cases medical, psychological and social concerns can be addressed so patients eventually undergo surgery.

Can you give me an example?

I started seeing one patient six months before her surgery. During the second visit, I noticed that something was worrying her. She was very upset and emotional, but not because of her potential surgery. While chatting with her she revealed she was having a problem with her son. They began seeing a therapist I recommended and their relationship steadily improved. If we had not addressed this problem, she would most likely have been unhappy and disappointed with the results of her surgery because the issue with her son would have persisted unresolved.

What procedures are popular today?

For the face, eyelid lifts, fat injections, neck lifts and facelifts. For the body, mommy makeovers, which include breast lift, augmentation or reduction, a tummy tuck and liposuction. I specialize in minimally invasive procedures with limited incisions and short scars.

When is the best time to have mommy makeovers?

A woman should have stable weight and appropriate BMI, and should no longer be lactating. I’ve performed a variety of these procedures on women in their 50’s and 60’s, when their children are grown and they have time to refocus on themselves.

I’ve read that a woman who has liposuction, on her tummy, for example, can expect the fat to show up instead on other parts of her body.

This is a misrepresentation of what happens. Once fat cells are removed by liposuction, they’re permanently removed and the body doesn’t regenerate them. But if a woman gains weight, the existing fat cells that are left in her body will expand with the added fat. So although it may appear like the fat has shifted location in fact fat cells just increase or decrease in size with weight gain or loss.

What are your observations about FOF women and plastic surgery?

FOF women want to look better longer, and are interested in procedures that produce results. Some may be considering a change of lifestyle or a new career, and are looking to improve their appearance. They may feel they look tired, or are bothered by wrinkled skin, or want their external looks to reflect their inner youth. Some may only need a small treatment, such as skin rejuvenation and injections of fat to targeted areas. The nice thing today is that we have a whole slew of techniques and modalities to address a woman’s concerns. These can be mixed and matched to address each person’s particular concerns.

We have a range of laser treatments to tighten skin and reduce wrinkles. Our aesthetician offers photo facials, chemical peels, and in-office laser skin rejuvenation treatments with no downtime. We also offer more extensive treatment with the Fraxel laser, which resurfaces skin, reduces fine lines and wrinkles and acne scarring, and reverses sun damage.

Tell me, honestly, do I look like an old woman? (I figure I might as well get some advice along the way.)

Not at all, you have great skin tone, but you could use some fat injections to add volume to your cheeks and a lift to tighten your neck.


Dr. Olivia Hutchinson

121A East 83 Street
New York, New York 10028

Tel:  (212) 452-1400
Fax: (212) 421-3435

Click here to view Dr. Hutchinson’s profile.

Leave a Reply