Cosmetic Surgery
Cosmetic Surgery Guide

Cosmetic Surgery: Frequently Asked Questions

1. How will I know if I am a good candidate for cosmetic surgery?

The cosmetic surgeon you choose will conduct a thorough physical exam and take a complete medical history before recommending a cosmetic surgery or nonsurgical procedure. If weight loss is a factor, the physician might request that you maintain a healthy weight for at least six months before undergoing a cosmetic procedure. This demonstrates your commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which ensures you will have the best results with minimal complications. You should be in overall good health and able and willing to follow pre- and post-operative directions. If you smoke, your cosmetic surgeon will likely require you to quit smoking because cigarette smoking has been shown to impair the healing process.

2. How much pain will I experience?

Pain is a very individual experience. Many factors influence pain:

  • Your pain-tolerance level
  • The type of procedure performed
  • The technique used during the procedure
  • The number of procedures performed at one time
  • The depth of the procedure (a nonsurgical dermal filler, for example, will be less painful than a complete facelift)
  • Whether you follow your cosmetic surgeon's post-operative instructions

Discuss your concerns about pain before you schedule your procedure. Your physician might prescribe a pain medication, which you should fill the day before your procedure, so it is waiting for you upon your return from the surgical center. Minor procedures might be well managed with over-the-counter analgesics.

3. Will I have scars?

Scarring is inevitable with cosmetic surgery. A skilled and experienced cosmetic surgeon will do his or her best to camouflage the incisions in the natural folds of your skin, in nonvisible parts of your body and by using techniques that minimize scarring. You have a role in this, too: Staying out of the direct sunlight will help your incisions heal and blend with your skin. Refraining from smoking and abusing alcohol and drugs will allow your body to heal well. And maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle with good nutrition and rest will minimize scarring, swelling, bruising and pain.

4. When will I notice a difference?

The answer to this question varies with the type of procedure. Most cosmetic surgery patients notice a difference within one day to a week of their procedure. For most surgical procedures, full effects become evident within six months to a year. Nonsurgical procedures have more immediate effects.

5. What if I don't like my results?

This is a rare outcome of cosmetic surgery and is less likely to happen if you are clear about your wishes, and your doctor is clear about what cosmetic surgery can and cannot do. Choose a cosmetic surgeon who is experienced and who makes you feel at ease. Before you schedule your procedure, ask for testimonials from patients who have had similar cosmetic surgery, and view the physician's portfolio of before-and-after photos. If your results are not what you expected, give your body enough time to completely heal; sometimes swelling lingers for six months up to as long as a year.

6. How long will my results last?

Cosmetic surgery does not stop the aging process. It can reverse the effects of aging by smoothing wrinkles, reversing the effects of gravity and removing stubborn deposits of fat, for example. Nor does it prevent you from gaining weight. Most surgical procedures are designed to offer permanent results; nonsurgical cosmetic procedures are designed to offer temporary results. Your cosmetic surgeon will go over how to make the most of your results.

7. How can I find the best cosmetic surgeon?

Use our Surgeon Locator! Our carefully selected physicians have had the best education and the most experience in their areas of specialty. They maintain proper licensure and proper continuing medical education. Interview more than one cosmetic surgeon, and choose one with whom you feel the most comfortable. Never let price be your guide; this is your body, and you want to favor quality over cost. View the physicians' portfolios of before-and-after pictures, and ask to speak to patients who have had similar procedures. Go to your consultation with a wish list of what you want done, as well as a list of questions about the physician's education and training.

8. When will I be able to return to work or start exercising again?

Your downtime will be dictated by the type of procedure you had. For surgical procedures, patients might be on bed rest for a week to 10 days. You might be advised not to lift anything heavier than a pencil for several weeks after your procedure, so let your doctor know if your job entails heavy lifting. As your body heals, you will be able to add more to your daily routine, but initially, you might be advised to refrain from high-impact exercise and lifting weights.

9. How much will my procedure cost?

Your surgeon will discuss his fees with you at your consultation. You should ask him or her about additional fees for surgical facility rental, pre-operative testing, medication, medical supplies and anesthesia. Most cosmetic surgeons offer financing options for patients who cannot pay for the procedures in one lump sum. Talk to his or her office about payment or financing options.

10. What are the risks of cosmetic surgery?

All surgical procedures come with risks. Although rare, risks include infection, scarring, bruising, swelling and bleeding. Your cosmetic surgeon should discuss the risks of the procedure, and if he or she does not, you might consider seeking another surgeon. It is also important to disclose your full medical history including allergies not only to medications but also to any foods or other substances. Bring a full list of medications, including over-the-counter medications, prescribed medications, herbal remedies and vitamin supplements that you take.

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