5 Things to Consider Before Having Cosmetic Surgery

Amiya Prasad M.D. Dr. Prasad's Blog

Can your cosmetic concern be addressed by a lifestyle change?

I’ve observed over my 20 years of practice that a person can become preoccupied with certain aspects of their appearance to the point where they determine that cosmetic surgery is the only solution to their problem. I try to help people who come with this point of view gain a more broad perspective. For example, in my practice, I advocate a healthy lifestyle first to all of my patients. This means that, before any discussion of cosmetic surgery can commence between myself and the patient, I first ask about the kind of lifestyle they lead, and whether they are practicing healthy habits or not.

In fact, certain cosmetic “problems” can actually be solved by exercising more, losing weight, and eating healthier. For example, someone who complains of excess chin fat or belly fat may see a significant difference in these areas after a change in their diet resulting in weight loss. This is particularly true for people who are nowhere near their ideal body weight or BMI (body mass index). In terms of weight-related procedures such as liposuction, in my experience, ideal candidates are those who are within 10 pounds of their ideal weight.

So, before considering cosmetic surgery, take the time to review your lifestyle and eating habits first, and see if there’s something that you can tweak there that will help you get the results you’re looking for.

What do you really want?

Make sure that your goals for wanting cosmetic surgery are, first and foremost, clear to you. In addition try to be certain that your goals are realistic. Ask yourself: Do you want to improve your personal facial characteristics, or do you want to dramatically change your face? If you’re leaning towards wanting a dramatic change, then you might need to rethink your reasons for considering cosmetic surgery. As I have said before, the goal of cosmetic surgery is not to change your looks, but to enhance what you already have.

That being said, I recommend taking the time to truly study your face, to see if cosmetic surgery can help you achieve the look you want. For example, for facelift related issues, you can perform a “mirror lift” to immediately gauge if a facelift can give you the look you want. You can also see possible improvement in your eyelids by gently pushing and lifting the excess fat and skin in your upper eyelids with your finger.

Understand your face and zero in on a particular “problem” area. Identifying what exactly bothers you about a particularly area is significantly better than walking into a consultation and simply saying something like “I don’t like my nose.” The more specific you are, the better it is for you. Being articulate about what bothers you is also of great help to the surgeon because they are able to get a better sense of what you want to achieve and what is important to you in terms of the aesthetics of your face.

Are you absolutely ready for the change?

“Change” doesn’t just refer to a change in appearance, but all the other subsequent changes that occur after surgery. Ask yourself; are you ready to do what it takes to support the changes that cosmetic surgery will bring about?

glenn carrie - unsplashWhen you decide to have cosmetic surgery, you need to be ready to adopt a lifestyle that will continue to support and maintain the results of your surgery. This means making necessary changes to your lifestyle such as adopting a good skincare routine, protecting your skin against the sun, watching what you eat, and (hopefully) dropping unhealthy habits such as smoking. Indeed, cosmetic surgery is an enhancement of the exterior aspects of a person, but its results can be maintained much longer if one takes care of the interior aspects, as well.

When it comes to cosmetic surgery, you must also be mentally and emotionally prepared for the outcome, and this can be accomplished by managing your expectations and keeping them as realistic as possible.

Remember, it is much more complex (if not impossible) to undo cosmetic surgery, so be sure that this is what you want.

Are the risks worth it?

Like any other type of surgery, cosmetic surgery comes with its own set of risks. It is important that you sit down with your surgeon and discuss all the possible outcomes of your procedure, so that you can fully understand whether it is something worth pursuing.

For example, procedures such as epicanthoplasty can be risky in the sense that it can actually change the whole dynamic of the eye because the crease goes in much further, and more of the inner corner of the eye is revealed. In some situations, this procedure may produce undesirable results.

Once you are better informed, ask yourself if the benefits of the procedure will significantly outweigh its risks. Find a surgeon who will communicate openly with you, and make you feel comfortable and confident about your procedure.

Are you doing it for yourself or for others?

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Considering cosmetic surgery is a very personal decision, and while there is no harm in asking for the opinions of close friends or family members, the final decision is ultimately yours to make. Some people will undergo surgery because they feel pressured by certain people in their lives to look a certain way, or perhaps they feel they are inadequate, or that they want to make someone else happy by changing a certain aspect of their looks. This is an unhealthy way of approaching cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery can have a great impact on the quality of your life. Make sure you’re doing it for you and not for someone else.