Everything You Need to Know Before Going for Plastic Surgery

We visited a top Beverly Hills plastic surgeon for some real talk.

By: Katie Becker
Photography: Tristan Kallas

Even if it seems like half the girls you went to high school with got nose jobs, there can be a bit of mystery about what exactly happens in a plastic surgery office. One thing we do know: Cosmetic surgery can have life-changing consequences for the good or not so good, depending on the doctor you choose and the knowledge you go in with. To get a better look behind the curtain, we flew out to L.A. to visit Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Gabriel Chiu. Chiu not only has a stellar reputation, but we also love that he can speak to how fashion influences his practice (just ask him how he got his Louis Vuitton x Supreme wallet). In fact, his wife and business partner, Christine Chiu, who was on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, is a regular at couture.

One of the most surprising things we learned from Dr. Chiu was about what to avoid. “A red flag would be [a surgeon] having an operating room in the back of their office,” says Chiu. “It’s usually not to the same calibre as a standard operating room. [Offices that have an operating room in back] will also use that room for Botox and lasers, but the problem is every time you do that, you’ve broken the sterility. It’s not best practice.” And that’s just tip of the iceberg when it comes to what you need to know.

One of the most important things Chiu talked to us about was about the current state of getting work done. “Whether it is for body or mind self-improvement, support and acceptance seem to have replaced stigma,” he says. “Personal or business, restorative, or transformative, we do not find that plastic surgery needs to be something whispered or verboten anymore. The art of improving looks and self-esteem, or even more specifically, correcting and revising deficits, deformities, or discrepancies, creates incredible changes not just physically but emotionally and mentally [improves] one’s quality of life. To me that is not something to look down upon—it should be celebrated.” In other words: Women doing whatever the eff they want in 2017.

Heres exactly what goes down in a plastic surgeon’s office, from a first appointment all the way through recovery, plus everything a patient can do to make sure they end up with a look that feels right.

“Find somebody who doesn’t just say ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ A good surgeon should explain to you the pros and cons. Say someone comes in with a bump on their nose; I have to teach them that you have to look at the rest of the face. If you get rid of the bump, you might have to do corrections elsewhere for balance, to get the most natural look to fit your face.”

In Dr. Chiu’s office.

“[Before you go in for consultations] get referrals from friends and review the doctors online. It’s important to see their before-and-afters; you want to make sure you’re seeing similar results to what you want. Go ahead and choose no more than your top three, and when you make appointments to see them, you want to see if everything is fitting what your impression would be. If it doesn’t seem to fit together, that’s a red flag. You’re going in to make sure you get along with the doctor and you’re both in agreement with what’s going to be done.”

Front lobby of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery.

“You do want an office that is also offering the services you weren’t necessarily looking for. Surgery isn’t for everyone. Some people want non-surgical treatments. You want an office that offers multiple things—more than one method.”

“We usually spend an hour to an hour and a half with a consultation. I like to explain everything fully, because it’s not just what the surgeon does, it’s also how you take care of yourself. Your body is ever-changing. I’m doing a dynamic art on you, and how the healing process is influenced depends on how you’re taking care of yourself. I feel like it’s a red flag when the doctor runs in and out on you. When a doctor comes in to see you, they shouldn’t tell you what they think you should have done and then leave the staff to explain the rest to you.”

Private consultation room.

“During the consultation, we are filling out paperwork and going over their medical history. They might not write down that they got hit on their face when they were younger, or they forget to tell me about a fall, and then when I’m examining their butt for a butt lift, there it is. You do have to disrobe for the appointment, but only the areas we’re discussing. After reviewing history, we examine, we do measurements, and then give them options to achieve what they’re looking for based on what is really feasible to do. Some people want to do too much all together. For example, I don’t think you should do a fat transfer to the butt and a tummy tuck at the same time—how are you going to lay down as you’re recovering? Then, we go over before-and-afters of past patients and look for patients that look like them.”

Private treatment room.

“Afterwards, you’re expecting to get a better idea of how to prepare for surgery, and whatever it is the surgeon recommends for recovery you, want to pick a time that fits in with everything to heal properly. We ask for three different dates that work for each patient. Before surgery I like patients to be involved. They usually meet once again, talking about how they can prepare themselves for surgery. We have paperwork about things you should and should not do.”

“When I really started to look at how fashion applies on a person’s body and going with [Christine] on fittings, I started to understand the effect you’re trying to achieve. You can have two black-and-white vertically striped dresses, but there’s differences in the thickness of the stripes and how they taper, and this changes how your body looks. With an artist’s eye, I’m looking at it as how can I contour a body in a similar fashion. We happen to have a close relationship with Louis Vuitton. They give us a lot of first offerings. I happen to like Vuitton quite a bit, but I also wear quite a bit of Tom Ford. I also like Burberry and Dior as well.”

Wallet, Louis Vuitton

“If there is a new [fashion] trend that comes along, I like to think about what’s going to be requested. Last fall was really big on sheer skirts where you could kind of see the silhouette of the legs more, so I saw a lot of patients coming in for lipo of the inside thighs and knees. The other popular thing was sheer tops this past season, so I had a lot of people to remove the fat pad right above your breast. The last time that was popular was when sundresses with spaghetti straps were in. Now we have crop tops. What’s usually popular is having fullness in the cleavage and fullness in the chest, but with crop tops it’s been popular to have fullness in the side boob and underneath.”

“I get people in quite frequently who say, ‘I love my friend’s [chest] and she has a full C, and I want that.’ But that might not fit your curves or height. That’s why I have full-length mirrors; I encourage patients to look at [their] full frame. You want to achieve harmony with the rest of the body—that’s the difference in being an artist.”

Tray of breast implant samples.

“We sometimes let patients take home implant samples to try them on at home with a bra, but it really depends on the availability. Or another thing is some type of measurement, like dry rice you can put into Ziplocs and put them into your bra. I can tell you how much you need so you can test it out and get a sense of the size.”

“Lots of plastic surgeons also have another form of art they do. My art has been photography since I was about 12 years old. If I had the time and patience for it, I would try to take up sculpting is what I would probably do.”

“On the morning of surgery, I will take photos and review the photos with them, showing the markings and what they mean—making sure that we’re both in agreement about what is being done. I feel that everyone is anxious the morning of surgery, and it helps to calm them, and it also makes them feel like they are part of the whole thing. It’s empowering to give input.”

In separate surgery center.

“I ask patients to come in [the] very next day for post-op. Sometimes I’ll see them that evening. I give them my personal cell phone hours. They’d rather talk to me than the after-hours service, but you won’t find many doctors willing to do that.”