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Cosmetic Surgery Self-Assessment

Many people seek cosmetic surgery to feel better about themselves and their bodies. Does it work? Studies suggest that people are generally pleased with the results of their cosmetic surgery and report improved self-esteem, social confidence, and quality of life.

Cosmetic surgery may not, though, be appropriate for everyone. If you are considering cosmetic surgery, ask yourself these questions:

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1. Why are you considering cosmetic surgery?

The healthiest reason to have cosmetic surgery is to improve your self-image -- the way you feel about yourself. People who have a strong self-image are usually more confident, effective in work and social situations, and comfortable with their relationships.

2. Are you having cosmetic surgery to please others or yourself?

Make sure that you are considering cosmetic surgery for yourself. You'll likely be disappointed if you are having cosmetic surgery to please someone else.

3. Are your expectations realistic?

Having realistic expectations may be the single most important factor in achieving a successful result. Cosmetic surgery can dramatically improve your appearance, but it has limitations. Be sure you talk openly with your surgeon about your goals and listen to whether he or she thinks those goals are reasonable.

4. Are you emotionally prepared for cosmetic surgery?

In some situations, cosmetic surgery may be inappropriate. These include when you're going through a crisis or an emotional upheaval such as divorce, death of a spouse, or loss of a job. Also, surgeons are reluctant to consider cosmetic surgery for people who are depressed or have other mental illnesses, are impossible to please, or are obsessed with perfection.

5. Is now the best time for cosmetic surgery?

Even if you are emotionally prepared for cosmetic surgery, you may want to delay it if you are preoccupied with other matters. Plan your surgery when you are relaxed and can afford the time to heal. Otherwise, you may face a longer and more difficult recovery.

6. How will you adjust to the change in your body image?

It may take some time for you to adjust to your new body image. This is especially true for procedures that create a major change to your face, such as nose surgery (rhinoplasty). Procedures such as Botox or wrinkle-filling or volumizing injections, which don't involve surgery, may be easier to get used to.

7. Are you prepared to handle unexpected results?

Cosmetic surgeons, like all surgeons, cannot guarantee results. Unexpected outcomes are rare, but when they happen, they're distressing to the patient and surgeon. You should consider the worst case scenario and whether you are willing to take that risk. You should also know that if the results aren't good, it will take time, patience, and a mutual trust between you and your surgeon to work toward improvement.

8. Do you have support?

It's important to have someone to support you physically and emotionally during your recovery. Realize that you may have days when you feel depressed as you go through the healing process. Beware of negative comments from friends or family members who may have issues with your decision to change your looks. Think about who will be there for you, and decline offers of help from those who may be critical of your decision.

9. Can you afford cosmetic surgery?

Health insurance usually doesn't cover cosmetic surgery. Be sure you know all the costs, the payment options, what you can afford, and what it's worth to you.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on July 28, 2014
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