BACKGROUND: In all branches of medicine, it is the surgeon's responsibility to provide the patient with accurate information before surgery. This is especially important in cosmetic surgery because the surgeon must focus on the aesthetic results desired by the patient. METHODS: An experimental protocol was developed based on an original questionnaire given to 72 patients. The nature of the responses, the patients' motivation and expectations, the degree of patient awareness regarding the planned operation, and the patients' perceptions of the purpose of the required consent for cosmetic surgery were all analyzed using Fisher's exact test. RESULTS: Candidates for abdominal wall surgery had significantly more preoperative psychological problems than their counterparts did (P=0.035). A significantly different percentage of patients under 40 years of age compared to those over 40 years of age searched for additional sources of information prior to the operation (P=0.046). Only 30% of patients with a lower educational background stated that the preoperative information had been adequate, whereas 92% of subjects with secondary schooling or a postsecondary degree felt that the information was sufficient (P=0.001). A statistically significant difference was also present between patients according to their educational background regarding expected improvements in their quality of life postoperatively (P=0.008). CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that patients require more attention in presurgical consultations and that clear communication should be prioritized to ensure that the surgeon understands the patient's expectations.