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Cosmetic Surgery and Procedures - Important Considerations

What are your expectations? continued...

Try to have realistic expectations about how cosmetic surgery might affect your life. Changing an aspect of your body that you are not happy with may make you feel more attractive, more satisfied with your appearance, and freer to do things that in the past made you uncomfortable, either emotionally or physically. For some people, the impact may be dramatic. But don't expect cosmetic surgery to solve all your problems. It may change how you look and feel, but it won't change who you are.

Talking with someone who has had cosmetic surgery may raise issues that you had not considered. Ask how the person felt about the results, whether the surgery achieved the results hoped for, and what the total experience was like. Doctors who have experience with cosmetic surgery can also provide perspective on the issues involved.

What can you expect during recovery?

Some types of cosmetic surgery are simple outpatient procedures that allow you to return to your regular activities right away. Others may require you to take days or even weeks off work. Be sure that you understand what your recovery will involve and that you are able to follow your doctor's instructions. Important questions to ask include:

  • How long will recovery take? How soon will I be able to return to work or school?
  • Will the recovery be painful? What other side effects (bruising, swelling, itching, numbness) will I have, and how long will they last?
  • What will I have to do to help my body heal properly? For example, skin resurfacing often requires a very thorough skin care routine during recovery. If you have a face-lift or nose surgery, you may have to keep your head elevated and avoid certain activities for a period of time. Following or not following these instructions can affect the results of the procedure.

What are the risks of cosmetic surgery?

Although many types of cosmetic surgery have very few risks, no procedure is risk-free. The risks vary according to your health and the type of procedure being done. They can range from slight scarring to infection and even death. Serious complications are rare, but they can occur.

It is possible that you may be putting your health and life at unnecessary risk when you have cosmetic surgery. It's important to weigh the risks against the possible benefits.

The other major risks of cosmetic surgery are that it may not produce the changes you want and that it may produce changes that leave you even more unhappy than you were before. Additional treatment may be needed to correct the results of the initial surgery. But the results of cosmetic surgery are often irreversible.

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