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Cosmetic surgery, or plastic surgery,
might seem like the easiest way to
shave years off your appearance or
improve your physique. If you're
not satisfied with your appearance,
cosmetic surgery might help you look
and feel better.
Cosmetic surgery, however, has risks
and limitations. If you're considering
cosmetic surgery, here's what you need
to know.
Factors to consider
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 cosmetic surgery,
• Your expectations.
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
• 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
• 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 might need days, weeks or even
months to recover. Understand the
physical effects that might be part
of your recovery, as well as how the
surgery might affect aspects of your
personal and professional life.
• Psychological changes.
self-esteem might improve after
cosmetic surgery, but cosmetic
surgery isn't likely to relieve
depression or other mental health
Finding a qualified cosmetic
If you decide to pursue cosmetic
surgery, you'll probably have your
choice of cosmetic surgeons. Choose
one who specializes in the procedure
you'd like to have done and 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
If you'll be having a procedure that
requires general anesthesia, be sure
that the operating facility 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
Meeting your surgeon
When you've narrowed your choice of
surgeons, schedule a consultation - or
multiple consultations with different
surgeons. The surgeon will evaluate
the part of your body that you want
treated, and you'll share your medical
history, list any medications you're
taking, and discuss your desires
and expectations. During the initial
consultation, ask the surgeon:
• Am I a good candidate for this
procedure? Why or why not?
• Are there treatments other than
surgery that might work just as well
or better for me?
• How many times have you done this
procedure? What were the results?
• Can you share before and after
photos or diagrams to help me
understand the procedure and the
expected results?
• Can the desired effect be
accomplished in one procedure,
or do you anticipate multiple
• What are the surgical options? What
are the pros and cons for each?
• Will the results be permanent?
• What type of anesthetic will be used?
How will it affect me?
• Will I be hospitalized? If so, for how
• What are the possible complications?
• How will my progress be monitored
after surgery? What follow-up care
will I need? How long of a recovery
period can I expect?
• How much will the procedure cost?
The closer you work with your surgeon
to establish specific, measurable and
achievable goals before surgery, the
more likely you are to be satisfied with
the results.
Remember, though, even if you've
done your homework and found a
surgeon you like — at a price you
can afford — the decision to pursue
cosmetic surgery is yours and yours
alone. Make sure you're comfortable
with the surgeon and committed to
your treatment choices.
Apr/May 2014