Making the choice to enhance your physical appearance with cosmetic surgery can be exciting but also intimidating—it’s not uncommon for plastic surgery fears to surface as “what ifs” start swirling in your mind. Taking time to research safe cosmetic surgery options and talking to a board certified cosmetic surgeon can put your mind at ease and empower you in your decision making.
We at the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery are here to help—and here are answers to some of the top questions we hear from patients.
1. Will people judge me for having cosmetic surgery?
First and foremost, cosmetic surgery is something you should be doing for yourself, not for anyone else. It is your body and your choice. That being said, the fear of judgment from acquaintances and loved ones is a common concern expressed by patients from all walks of life.
While we still see sensationalized plastic surgery stories detailing celebrity procedures, the truth is that cosmetic surgery is no longer as taboo as it once was—and you may be surprised how many people you know who have visited a local surgeon themselves.
In the hands of a skilled cosmetic surgeon, you won’t end up looking like a totally different person, just an improved version of yourself. Advanced techniques and technology today allow for natural-looking results that enhance the appearance in a subtle way. Many patients report that their friends just noticed that they looked fresher, more well-rested, or simply look more confident.
Commonly, friends and family will say “you don’t need that,” meaning to say you look beautiful as you are. They are correct on both counts; however, these decisions are based on what you want, not what you need. It’s about feeling beautiful rather than looking beautiful. Often these friends and family will say, “you should have done that sooner” upon witnessing not just the patient’s great result, but also their happiness.
And as for friends that do notice a change in your appearance? Be prepared for them to be both excited for you and curious. They may reveal the changes they’re hoping to make to their own appearance and will appreciate getting a trusted friend’s advice.
2. Can I afford plastic surgery?
Ultimately, this is a decision you will have to make after considering your financing options, your budget, and what increased confidence is worth to you. Safe, successful cosmetic surgery will not be cheap—and your well being depends on not bargain shopping for a surgeon. When you see the price of a procedure, remember that this includes your cosmetic surgeon’s time and expertise, a skilled operating room staff, credentialed anesthesiologist, and access to an accredited surgical facility. “Skimping” on any of these factors can greatly impact both your results and your health.
Back to the original question on affordability, cosmetic surgery may be more financially accessible than you would assume simply looking at procedure pricing. Third-party cosmetic surgery financing is offered by most cosmetic surgeons, allowing you to have monthly payments that fit your budget. If you are looking for additional savings, sign up for email promotions from your surgeon of choice—many practices offer seasonal discounts. Additionally, promotional programs from manufacturers like Allergan or Mentor can offer opportunities for saving on your dream procedure.
3. Is general anesthesia dangerous?
There is a certain fear that comes with being sedated and not being in control of what is happening—and patients undergoing any type of surgery may feel anxious about general anesthesia. While certain cosmetic procedures can be performed using IV sedation or “twilight sleep,” larger surgeries will require general anesthesia for your comfort and safety.
To put your mind at ease, general anesthesia has come a long way and is very safe—provided you have a qualified anesthesia provider. All cosmetic surgeons certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery are required to work with highly trained and credentialed anesthesia providers. If you feel uneasy or have underlying health issues, speak with your cosmetic surgeon and their anesthesiologist (MD/DO) or nurse anesthetist (CRNA)—they can explain the process step-by-step and address your specific concerns.
4. How much time will I need to take off work for cosmetic surgery?
As plastic surgery techniques improve, so do recovery times. In many cases, you can return to work within just a few days, provided you continue to follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions and avoid any strenuous activities. If possible, schedule your surgery close to a weekend or holiday so you won’t have to take too much additional time off. Ask ahead of time about any postoperative limitations or restrictions so you can plan accordingly. You may be surprised at just how quickly you bounce back and are able to get back to daily life.
The one caveat would be for patients who have physically demanding jobs: if you do, talk to your cosmetic surgeon. They will help you understand the stages of recovery and make personalized recommendations about how much time to take off work.
5. Will I like the results?
When it comes to cosmetic surgery fears, this is a big one. The media tends to capitalize on the horror stories of “botched plastic surgery”—while the reality is that an overwhelming majority of patients who choose to have a cosmetic procedure with an experienced, board certified cosmetic surgeon are thrilled with their results.
Ultimately, choosing the right surgeon is the number one thing you can do to make sure you have a safe and successful procedure. Do your research and ask questions. When you are shopping for a cosmetic surgeon near you, make sure to check their training and credentials, look at before and after pictures of patients who had similar concerns, and read reviews. During your consultation, ask about their experience with your procedure of interest. They should also be able to provide detailed answers to any questions you may ask.
After surgery, it’s normal to go through a period of questioning if it was “worth it”—nearly every patient experiences a brief period in which they feel fearful about their potential results, wondering if they should have had surgery. This period is typically short-lived and closely tied with postoperative physical discomfort and medications.
Patience is key when it comes to results. Remember that it can take several weeks up to a year for your mind and body to adjust to the changes and for the final results to fully emerge, depending on the procedure you had.
Greater confidence is within reach
Don’t let your cosmetic surgery fears keep you from making a decision that could change your life for the better. Find a board certified cosmetic surgeon who is both skilled and communicative—a doctor with whom you feel comfortable sharing all of your concerns, motivations, and goals. They can help ease your uncertainties and guide you in the right direction.