Considering Plastic Surgery?
What you should know before you make a decision.
If you are thinking about having a cosmetic surgery procedure you are in good company. Last year nearly 9.2 million Americans underwent cosmetic procedures, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). In the fifteen years since ASAPS began keeping statistical data, there actually has been a 197% increase in overall cosmetic procedures for both men and women, including both invasive and non-invasive treatments. It’s obvious that more and more men and women want to maintain or regain a youthful look in an increasingly youth oriented culture, and are making the decision to do something about it.
According to ASAPS’s latest statistics, the top five surgical procedures in 2011 were:
• Breast augmentation
• Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
• Eyelid surgery
• Breast lift
While there are a number of non-invasive procedures available, including injection therapies, chemical peels, and laser and light-based rejuvenation, which can help to turn back the effects of time, for the sake of this article Well-Being focuses on surgical procedures.
Because cosmetic surgery procedures, for the most part are voluntary or “elective,” that is no reason to take them any less seriously. Any invasive procedure comes with risks as well as rewards. It’s not just smart to do your homework before deciding to undergo a cosmetic procedure, it’s crucial to having a safe and positive outcome.
What you should know before cosmetic surgery.
Cosmetic surgery changes your appearance by altering parts of your body that function normally but don’t look the way you want. Before you proceed with a decision to have a cosmetic procedure consider the following:
Your expectations. Anticipate improvement, not perfection. If you expect cosmetic surgery to turn you into a movie star, you’re bound to be disappointed. Don’t count on surgery to save a rocky relationship, gain a promotion or improve your social life.
Expense. Cosmetic surgery isn’t covered by most health insurance plans. The cost varies depending on the procedure, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Also consider the cost of any follow-up care or additional corrective procedures.
Risks. Dissatisfaction is possible after any type of cosmetic surgery. Surgical complications are possible, too – including excessive bleeding or infection at the surgical site.
Recovery. After cosmetic surgery, you may need days, weeks or even months to recover. Understand the physical effects that may be part of your recovery, as well as how the surgery may affect aspects of your personal and professional life.
Psychological changes. Your self-esteem might improve after cosmetic surgery, but cosmetic surgery isn’t likely to relieve depression or other mental health conditions.
How to choose a cosmetic surgeon.
With the popularity of plastic surgery soaring, more and more doctors are trying to meet the demand for this specialty. Any licensed physician can call himself or herself a cosmetic surgeon, so the importance of finding a properly trained and certified provider is paramount. Choosing a doctor who’s a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® (ASPS) is the first step in ensuring quality care and outcomes.
You want to select a physician who specializes in the procedure you’d like to have done and who is certified in the specialty by a board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, such as the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Beware of misleading certifications from unrecognized or self-designated boards.
Another consideration is where you will have your procedure. If your procedure requires general anesthesia, be sure that the operating facility used by your surgeon has been accredited by a national- or state-recognized accrediting agency, such as The Joint Commission, or is licensed by the state in which the facility is located.
Questions for your cosmetic surgeon.
• Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
• What will be expected of me to get optimal results?
• What are the risks involved with my procedure?
• How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
• Will I need to take time off work? If so, how long?
What you should expect from your cosmetic surgeon before surgery.
• He or she should answer all of your questions thoroughly and clearly.
• Ask about your thoughts to recommended treatment.
• Offer alternatives, where appropriate, without pressuring you to consider unneeded or additional procedures.
• Welcome questions about your procedure and his or her professional qualifications, experience, costs and payment policies.
• Make clear the risks of surgery and possible outcomes.
• Give you information about the procedure you want.
• Leave the final decision to you.
Do your homework.
As a prospective plastic surgery patient, educating yourself is one of the most important things you can do. It’s a good idea to call the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (toll-free at 1-888-4-PLASTIC, or visit www.plasticsurgery.org to get a list of surgeons in your area who perform a certain procedure and are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery have graduated from an accredited medical school, completed at least five additional years of residency (typically three years of general surgery and two years of plastic surgery), practiced plastic surgery for at least two more years, and passed comprehensive exams.
Glossary of Surgical Terms
The terms used to describe various kinds of plastic surgery can be extremely confusing and can contribute to patients making ill-advised decisions about the procedures and physicians they choose.
Plastic surgery includes both reconstructive surgery and aesthetic surgery. Reconstructive surgery is done to restore a body part that is abnormal due to a trauma/accident or that is abnormal at birth. Some reconstructive surgery can be considered lifesaving or limb-saving. This type of surgery is covered by insurance because it is considered “medically necessary.”
Aesthetic surgery, more commonly known as cosmetic surgery, is surgery done to improve an already normal body part. It is done to improve or enhance the appearance of an already normal body. It is an elective procedure, meaning it is not necessary to save a person’s life. It is normally not covered by insurance because it is not deemed “medically necessary.” Both reconstructive and aesthetic surgery can improve a person’s quality of life, however.
Cosmetic surgery includes only aesthetic surgery. It is surgery done purely for enhancing a body part that has a normal shape and normal function. Of course there is a wide variation to what some people consider normal. While some people may not like the appearance of their nose, as long as there is not a breathing problem, the nose is considered “normal.” Any surgery to make a normal nose look better, known as rhinoplasty, is considered “aesthetic.”