Young woman in informal seated pose, thinking about plastic surgery?


5 things to consider before plastic surgery

Any surgery, including elective plastic and cosmetic surgery, has risks and the potential for complications. If you are healthy to begin with, it will improve your overall experience. Here are five things for you to consider if you are thinking about having a cosmetic or reconstructive procedure.

1. Your overall health

Good candidates for cosmetic surgery are women and men who are:

  • physically healthy and at a stable weight
  • interested in improving their physical appearance 
  • have realistic expectations
  • non-smokers.

If you are working on losing a substantial amount of weight or planning a pregnancy, consider postponing your cosmetic surgery until you have reached your goals. Significant fluctuations in weight after surgery will diminish your aesthetic improvements. Losing weight before surgery will also reduce your risk of complications.

2. Your mindset

The right mindset is key to a successful experience. Cosmetic surgery is not something you need, but rather a personal choice that is going to help you feel better about yourself. You can be the best version of yourself without cosmetic surgery, but if you feel something is bothering you enough to consider surgery, then you have made an important first step.

Cosmetic surgery can improve your quality of life, however, as with any surgical procedure, a lot of thought should go into making a final decision. Surgery has risks, recovery takes time, and you may require multiple procedures. Plastic and cosmetic surgery is not going to make you into a better version of yourself and it will not solve problems in other areas of your life.

3. Your doctor’s qualifications

Is your plastic surgeon board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) or by the American Board of Facial Plastic Surgery (ABFPS)? Don’t be confused by other official sounding boards and certifications. There is no certifying board with cosmetic surgery in its name. In Minnesota any doctor may advertise themselves as a cosmetic physician. Although these cosmetic doctors may have taken courses to expand their scope of practice, these courses are not the same as a six-year accredited surgical training program. By choosing an ABPS certified surgeon you can be assured you are choosing a qualified, highly-trained plastic surgeon who will work in a licensed surgical facility with licensed anesthesiologists, nurses and other health care team members you can trust.

During your cosmetic surgery consultation, ask your plastic surgeon about his or her experience with specific procedures. Plastic surgery covers the human body from head to toe. My colleagues and I have a broad range of experiences and interests. We are a team who seeks your best interests. I will be open and honest with you and if one of my colleagues has more experience in a procedure you are interested in, I will offer you an opportunity to meet with them.

4. Your recovery

The amount of time you’ll need to take off work and your activity restrictions will vary depending on your procedure, how long surgery takes, if you’ll have a hospital stay and the type of anesthesia used. Sometimes achieving your goals may involve more than one procedure to refine the results. Following your post-op instructions to the letter will ensure a smoother recovery and a better result. If your recovery requires you not to lift or strain for a few weeks after surgery, it’s important to have support available to help you with your daily activities. For example, you may need to arrange for help lifting groceries, driving, cleaning, caring for your children and meal preparation.

Healing does take time. It may take up to six months after surgery for you to truly appreciate your results. It is important to time your surgery based on your lifestyle and your priorities. Do not plan major events (weddings, beach vacations, etc.) shortly after surgery as you may not be at your best yet.

5. The overall cost

Most cosmetic procedures are considered out-of-pocket expenses. If cost is a concern, ask about financing options. Beware of medical tourism and low-cost claims to travel outside of the US for plastic and cosmetic surgery. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Take into account all the considerations I have mentioned here, including your care team’s experience and expertise, costs including travel and recovery, plus safety and risk prior to making a final decision. Your health is your greatest asset. Choose wisely.


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