Adoption of graphene and other 2D crystals in biomedicine is challenging — some guidelines to facilitate this process and avoid inflated expectations should be considered. Advanced materials are key contributors to the development of next-generation medical technologies. The advent of carbon-based nanostructures and 2D materials has generated a wealth of previously unavailable nanoscale systems with unique and unexpected physicochemical properties. Translating their exceptional material characteristics into functional devices that clinicians and health professionals would deem problem solvers is not easy. The success of this process will depend on how well the community is able to exercise ‘measured expectations’ to allow scientific knowledge to gradually mature into robust technologies for clinical use.