If you're over 40, you've been there: That face in the mirror -- it just isn't you anymore. Like a good house in an older neighborhood, it's time for remodeling.
"People have different motivations for plastic surgery, and sometimes they're realistic, sometimes they're not," says Michael Powell, MD, a facial plastic surgeon and consultant for WebMD.
Indeed, cosmetic surgery -- especially facial plastic surgery -- is a serious step. Here are some things to consider before you see a surgeon.
1. Your motivation. It's important that you already feel good about yourself -- that you just want to improve your self-image, refresh your face.
"You don't want to be thinking, 'I must have this surgery because it will give me a new life,'" Powell tells WebMD. "It has to be other way around -- I'm already comfortable with who I am, but my body image isn't right. I look old, angry, tired, and would feel more confident, feel better if I improved myself a bit."
Sometimes a little facial plastic surgery helps in the job market, Powell adds. "But you don't want the job to be a primary motivation. But if you're in sales, real estate, and you want to feel more competent, do a better job of presenting yourself, that's a good reason to have plastic surgery."
Also, the problem needs to be visible -- one that both you and the doctor can see, he says. "It's got to be a rational decision. It's not necessary for your emotional health, but a gift you give yourself because it will make you feel better," he says.
2. Your expectations. Facial plastic surgery won't make your husband or wife come back, and it won't make your employer rehire you. It also won't make you look like your favorite movie star.
Your bone structure, cartilage, and skin play into the end result. "We say we can make your nose look better on your face. We can take what you have and fine-tune it -- but we can't change your nose to someone else's," says Powell.
3. Your emotional state. If you're going through emotional trauma -- you just lost your spouse, got divorced, are depressed -- don't have cosmetic surgery. "Don't think it will pull you out of emotional trauma, because the surgery could make your depression worse," Powell tells WebMD.
Most people who have facial plastic surgery feel blue afterward, he explains. "Your face is swollen, bruised, you don't have as much energy because of the surgery and the anesthesia. If you're already depressed, you will feel worse. That can impact your healing -- since your immune system will be depressed, too. Your face will then take longer to heal."
4. Your support system. Because you'll feel blue, you need people backing up your decision, people who can see you through the rough times.