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Patient Satisfaction Runs High, If Expectations Aren't Too High

WebMD Health News

Most People Like Laser Skin Resurfacing

Sept. 15, 2003 -- Most people who undergo laser skin resurfacing will be satisfied with the results, but unrealistic expectations may spoil the outcome for some.

A new study shows that 89% of patients who had laser skin resurfacing performed at a plastic surgeon's office were satisfied and would do it again.

The popular procedure involves using carbon dioxide lasers to improve the appearance and elasticity of the skin.

High Expectations Spoil Results

In a study published in the current issue of the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, researchers evaluated a group of 178 patients before and after laser skin resurfacing to find out if they were satisfied with the results and to determine if psychological factors might affect patient satisfaction.

The patients, who ranged in age from 31 to 69 years, filled out a questionnaire before the procedure about their expectations, informed consent (knowledge about potential risks associated with the procedure), psychiatric history, and self-worth.

Researchers found that overall, 89% of patients were satisfied with the results and would undergo laser skin resurfacing again.

In addition, 92% correctly identified scarring as a potential complication, which may reflect an adequate informed consent process.

Those patients who listed improvement in appearance and healthiness of skin as their expected outcome were more likely to be satisfied with the results than those with higher expectations.

For example, patients who expected a change in their self-esteem as a result of the procedure were more likely to be dissatisfied than others. The 12% of patients who believed that they had a facial disfigurement were also less likely to be happy with the results of laser skin resurfacing.

Based on those results, researcher R. James Koch, MD, of Stanford University Medical Center, and colleagues write that "the ideal laser patient expects minimal to moderate improvement in appearance or healthiness of the skin; does not believe the procedure will affect his or her self-esteem; and does not believe that he or she has an actual facial disfigurement."

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