The Research And Risks To Know About Before Getting Plastic Surgery

If you've ever thought about having a cosmetic procedure or plastic surgery done, that makes you one of the approximately 1.5 to 5.5 million people who have sought out or received surgical or non-surgical cosmetic procedures every year. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, plastic surgery isn't just about artifice. Rather it's "... a surgical specialty involved with both the improvement in a person's appearance and the reconstruction of facial and body tissue defects due to illness, trauma, or birth disorders." Over the last several years, the number of plastic surgeries has definitely increased, with some of the most popular procedures being breast augmentation, buttock lift, and dermabrasion, so it can be said that cosmetic surgeries are becoming more commonplace and acceptable. If you're debating getting a procedure done, there are a few things to consider before making that commitment.

Knowing your healthcare provider or surgeon is key

Like any service or major investment, you may want to begin with extensive research on the procedure you're seeking to get done, and perhaps, more importantly, who will be performing said procedure. Knowing the credentials and full scope of skills and knowledge of your healthcare professional, doctor, or surgeon should be one of your top priorities, as they're the ones with your health and well-being in their hands. For example, you may want to familiarize yourself with which healthcare professional can provide or perform the type of cosmetic surgery you're after, as according to a 2017 report, people were confused between the terms 'plastic' and 'cosmetic' when it comes to surgeons and what each does. You may also want to consider the different levels of certification and education required of a healthcare professional, depending on the country you're thinking of having your procedure done, as regulations can differ. 

Healing after a surgical procedure can look different for everyone

When thinking about healing from a cosmetic procedure, your main concerns may be the length of time it will take for a full recovery, and how soon you'll be able to resume your day-to-day activities or return to work. While all of these are very logical things to think about when considering a cosmetic procedure, you should also consider how pre-existing conditions can affect or hinder your healing progress. For example, if you have a health condition like cardiovascular disease or diabetes, this can have a significant effect on your post-surgery recovery. You may also want to think about post-operative care, in terms of having someone around to help and support you during the early stages of recovery. There are a number of procedures that may require you to stay in bed or refrain from doing any heavy lifting, so knowing what kind and how much help you're going to need could be the difference between a difficult and generally pleasant experience.

Not all surgical procedures are reversible

It's a fairly safe assumption that cosmetic surgeries are not likely to be reversible. In fact, according to Boulder Plastic Surgery, "surgical procedures such as nose jobs, ear resculpting, as well as face, brow, and eyelid lifts are not necessarily reversible, but can be redone if you're not happy with the results." In the case of trendier procedures like the once TikTok-viral "fox eye surgery", some doctors are reporting an increase in patients who have gotten this done and are now considering and requesting a reversal of their procedures. By no means is this meant to deter or frighten anyone from getting a cosmetic procedure done, but a simple reminder to make sure that you make an effort to understand as many of the factors — both positive and negative — regarding any procedure you're interested in.

Reversible doesn't necessarily mean back to normal

If you aren't someone who's big on permanent procedures — or just generally a commitment-phobe — there are a number of cosmetic procedures that are technically reversible, like some lip fillers, which can be dissolved, or some breast augmentation procedures, as breast implants can be surgically removed as a means of reversal. However, it's important to make the distinction about what it means for a cosmetic procedure to be reversed, as this doesn't mean that your appearance will go back to what it once was before you'd gotten your procedure. For example, if you have breast implants removed, it may be necessary to then have a breast lift as well, as just a removal may alter the shape of the breast, as well as be prone to leaving saggy skin. Similarly, reversing or dissolving lip filler, can lead to you losing "more volume than you want [in your lips] and notice some unevenness in your lips," according to Healthline.

Make sure you're a good candidate for the procedure you're seeking out

Plastic surgery may not be for everyone, and the only way to find out for certain whether you qualify or not is by consulting a certified healthcare professional. For example, you may be disqualified from certain procedures due to risks associated with a preexisting health condition. Other factors, like complications from previous surgeries or even plans regarding reproductive health, can have an impact on whether or not you're a good candidate for certain cosmetic procedures. Again, doing research and asking a variety of generalized and specific questions about cosmetic surgery, particularly the one you're looking to have done, should empower you by arming you with as much information necessary for you to make an informed decision on whether to go ahead with a procedure or how to proceed with your care plan after your surgery.

There are limits to the results you can achieve with plastic surgery

Knowing whether you're a good candidate for a cosmetic procedure is one thing, but it's quite another to ensure that you and your physician or surgeon are managing expectations around the results of a cosmetic procedure, whether it is surgical or non-invasive. While results from cosmetic procedures can drastically alter your appearance, it's important to keep in mind that results may vary, and that there are limitations to what's achievable in terms of outcome. Your overall health and well-being should be the utmost priority, and if a desired outcome jeopardizes this, it may not be a great idea to have a procedure done. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, "if your surgeon feels your expectations for surgery are unrealistic, they may disqualify you from surgery." So, when speaking to a healthcare professional or cosmetic surgeon, keep an open mind, but also be wary of anyone who can "100% guarantee" results that seem too good to be true.

Plastic surgery can impact your current lifestyle

When considering a cosmetic procedure, you've thought of all the ways in which it can positively impact your life, whether it is by boosting your self-esteem and confidence, or even improving your overall quality of life. However, not all changes are for the better. For example, in some cases, when too much cartilage is removed during a rhinoplasty (nose job), your breathing can be permanently affected. For people who have breastfeeding in their sights for the future, according to the Cleveland Clinic, "All breast surgeries are done in such a way as to try to reduce the effect they might have on lactation. But with breast augmentation specifically, it's important to note that you can't really increase the amount of glandular tissue responsible for milk production — if anything, you may lose some." Such factors and how they could impact your life should be discussed and considered before going under the knife.

Personal finances should be considered when deciding on plastic surgery

Besides the usual things like recovery times and general expectations regarding the outcome of a procedure, there's another significant element to take into account when thinking about cosmetic surgery: the cost. For many surgeries and procedures, prices can drastically vary from country to country and cost tens of thousands of dollars. While there are certain situations where plastic surgery costs may be covered by an insurance provider, like a medically necessary procedure (think reconstructive surgeries), many procedures are not covered and thus need to be personally financed. With medical debt being a leading cause of financial struggles in countries like the United States, making sure that you have the financial means available in order to undergo cosmetic surgery should be one of the key factors you consider before booking your procedure. 

As with any surgical procedure, there may be some potential health risks

If you're someone who is in generally good health, you may feel fairly comfortable with the idea of undergoing a cosmetic procedure. However, like with any sort of medical procedure, there are usually some risks involved, even for folks who are otherwise perfectly healthy. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are some fairly common risks involving cosmetic surgery such as scarring, nerve damage, anaesthesia-related complications, and infection. There are also some more extreme potential complications like blood clots and organ damage. Fortunately, according to the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, complications due to cosmetic surgery are generally rare, affecting 0.78% of "26,032 cases performed over a 23-year period." As always, concerns regarding risks involved in cosmetic surgery should always be discussed with your physician or surgeon, ensuring that you're well-informed before scheduling a surgery. 

Plastic surgery could impact your mental health

Though one might consider plastic surgery as a means to alter or "fix" some part of their physical appearance that they're unsatisfied with, it's important to also look inward and think about your mental health before signing up to alter your appearance. According to Dr. Wendy W. Lee, "As much as 1% to 2% of the general population, equally male and female, are affected by body dysmorphic disorder, with the highest incidence in people seeking rhinoplasty, which can be as high as 21%."

Body dysmorphic disorder is "a mental health disorder that leads to distress over your appearance. You may think certain parts of your body are defects ... As a result, you may have psychological distress that can interrupt your everyday life," according to WebMD. Ensuring that your mental health is in a healthy state can have a significant impact on your experience with cosmetic surgery, should you choose to undergo a procedure.