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Cosmetic Surgery and Procedures - Important Considerations

If you are thinking about having cosmetic surgery or a cosmetic procedure, consider the following questions before making a decision.

Why do you want cosmetic surgery?

This is an important question. Take the time to think it through. Cosmetic surgery involves risk and expense. It can permanently change your physical appearance, possibly in a way you didn't expect or that leaves you unhappy. Make sure that cosmetic surgery is what you want. It is not a good idea to change your appearance because someone else wants you to or because you think it will help you get a particular job. If you are content with your appearance, do not let anyone pressure you into having cosmetic surgery. The decision needs to be your own.

If you are unhappy with your appearance, consider other ways to approach your "problem" area before deciding to have cosmetic surgery. For instance, lotions and creams prescribed by your doctor can reduce fine wrinkles. Or makeup may help conceal or de-emphasize wrinkles, scars, and other skin changes. If you are unhappy with the shape of your body, changing your dress and clothing style may help you feel better about how you look. Diet and exercise can often help you achieve the body shape you desire.

If these measures don't work for you, then you may wish to consider cosmetic surgery. Satisfaction levels are generally very high. Your self-image and attitude toward your own body may improve, which can boost your confidence and self-esteem.

What are your expectations?

You are more likely to be happy with the results of cosmetic surgery if you have clear, realistic expectations and a clear understanding of why you want to have surgery. First, decide exactly what you would like to change or improve. Then discuss those goals with your doctor, who can tell you whether your goals are realistic and how best to achieve them. Looking at photographs of desirable features may help you decide what you want. Remember, though, that cosmetic surgery is used to enhance your own features and not necessarily to duplicate those of another person whose physical appearance you admire.

Get the facts about what to expect from a certain procedure. Have your doctor show you photographs and explain the full range of possible results. Computer imaging can be helpful, but it can also be misleading. There is no guarantee that the end results will match those created by the computer. With some types of surgery, the results may not appear for several weeks or months after the procedure. It may take several sessions or a combination of procedures to achieve the look you want. And results are not always permanent.

Remember that the effects of time, gravity, aging, and sun exposure continue after cosmetic surgery. Surgery is no substitute for good health habits. Getting proper nutrition and regular exercise, guarding against sun exposure, managing stress, not smoking, and avoiding drugs and excess alcohol can go a long way toward helping you look and feel young and healthy.

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