How to Decide, Part 1

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There are many reasons to consider cosmetic surgery. Many people seek to recapture their youthful appearance. Others desire to improve an inherited trait or to repair sun-damaged skin. Some hope to reverse the effects of pregnancy or weight gain. All have the same final goal: to look and feel their best.

The difficulty lies in balancing the potential drawbacks with the anticipated benefits. Cosmetic surgery imposes time away from work and play, financial cost, medical risk, and the possibility of disappointment, real or imagined. How can you predict whether your end result will justify braving these obstacles? These articles highlight important issues that will play a role in your decision. But, in the end, you alone must decide.

Tina, a 29-year-old manicurist, wanted her breast implants removed. She explained that she had been encouraged by her boyfriend nine years ago to have breast implants placed. Because he paid for the surgery, she had thought there was no reason not to have it. Their relationship dissolved a few years later, but she was left with implants that she never really wanted. She felt self-conscious about her breasts, which seemed to draw a moderate amount of unwanted attention. Had she the option to turn back the clock, she would not have had the implants placed.

Consult Your Mirror

Physical appearance, inherited and acquired, affects self-image and interactions with others. As long as we have mirrors, our reflections will influence self-esteem. To obtain the most gratifying results from cosmetic surgery, you must first consult your mirror and determine what troubles you. Determine your goals before discussing them with your spouse, family, friends, or even your plastic surgeon. Never consider a procedure solely to please another, nor be dissuaded from pursuing a change that you desire (unless your surgeon thinks it is surgically infeasible or medically unsafe). After all, you are the one holding the mirror.

Set Realistic Expectations

The number-one cause of disappointment following cosmetic surgery is failure of the procedure to meet the patient's expectations. Although this is sometimes due to a suboptimal surgical result, it is more often due to unrealistic expectations. Patients may recognize intellectually that there are limits to what they can expect, yet some deny this fact emotionally. Their emotions drive their expectations beyond reality, and they are destined for disappointment.

The best way to protect yourself from unrealistic expectations is through careful discussion with your plastic surgeon. (Because clear communication with your surgeon is essential to success, it is critical that you find one with whom you are comfortable.) Comments such as "Just make me beautiful," are meaningless to your surgeon. Listen carefully when your surgeon mentions limitations in achieving your cosmetic goals, which must be clearly established. Ask questions about all aspects of the outcome you envision and whether it is within reason. The more concrete and specific your expectations, the more likely you are to be satisfied with your final result.

Do not seek plastic surgery with the notion that it will change your life. It will not. Plastic surgery will change your appearance, which may have a powerful impact on your self-perception, but it will not improve relationships, gain new friends, or win back an unfaithful husband. If you have such thoughts, either consciously or subconsciously, cosmetic surgery is almost guaranteed to result in dissatisfaction. Instead of having surgery, openly recognize your expectations and deal with the real problems at hand.
Article by
Fresno Plastic Surgeon