Plastic surgery can be an amazing life changer. I have personally done thousands of procedures on people who come back after they have recovered to tell me that I have “changed their lives” forever. They have a tremendous boost of self-confidence and a spring in their step that their loved ones have not seen in years…or ever!
However, every plastic surgeon becomes acutely aware of the fact that many people are seeking plastic surgery for the wrong reasons. Plastic surgery is a medical specialty where your doctor functions not only as a surgeon, but also a psychologist who can help you determine if this is the right time in your life for a major change. I say “no” to over 30% of the people that see us for consultation, not to be mean, but to protect my patients from themselves. Although it is may be a disappointment to hear that plastic surgery may not be right for you, you should take this advice with great heed to prevent a going through a major disappointment or major complications.
- You are not healthy. Plastic surgery works great, and the chance of having complications are usually minimal… unless you have uncontrolled health issues. The typical “silent killers” your family doctor talks to you about (diabetes, high blood pressure) can also cause healing issues and recovery problems. Although having these problems doesn’t preclude you from having plastic surgery, you should definitely pay a visit to your primary care physician and make sure your health condition is optimized before you go under the knife.
- You are obese. Many people have the misconception that being overweight is the reason that you go to a plastic surgeon! This could not be farther from the truth. Obesity not only makes it nearly impossible to get a good result from the procedure, it exposes you to additional risks such as wound healing problems, blood clots, and pneumonia. If you are considering plastic surgery, you must lose the extra pounds first. Although you do not need to be at your “ideal weight”, a good rule of thumb is that your Body Mass Index (BMI) should be less than 30. Check out our BMI Calculator to figure out what your Body Mass Index is.
- You are a smoker. This one is pretty much a deal breaker. If you smoke, you should not have most plastic surgery procedures that require a “flap” (tummy tucks, breast lifts, facelifts). Smoking not only replaces the nourishing oxygen on your blood cells with carbon monoxide, the nicotine in cigarettes also constricts the tiny blood vessels that go to your skin. No blood flow and less oxygen is the formula for infections, open wounds, and bad scars. You should quit smoking for at least 4 weeks before surgery, and forever after.
- You don’t have the finances to do it right. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous “doctors” advertise plastic surgery as “easy” and “cheap”. Nothing is farther from the truth. If you see a price that is too good to be true, it is. Cheap plastic surgery almost always leads to disappointing results and more money spent dealing with complications. Be skeptical about going to a “cosmetic surgeon” versus a plastic surgeon, doing surgery under local anesthesia (highly unsafe and only done when the doctor is not allowed to do the procedures under proper anesthesia), or extremely low prices (indicative of cutting corners).
- You are doing the surgery for the wrong reasons. Many people think that plastic surgery can turn their life from bad to amazing with one quick visit to the operating room. The reality is that if you are trying to prevent a relationship from ending, getting forced into doing it by someone else, or have any personal “drama” going on that is leading you to the plastic surgeons office, you should get back in your car and visit the psychologist first and work through these issues. Don’t think about plastic surgery until you are in a good point in your life, have support from your significant other and are doing this for “you”!
Plastic surgery is now considered the “norm” in the United States, with over 65% of our population approving of plastic surgery. The keys to success are being healthy, losing weight, quitting smoking, doing it for the right reasons, and doing it right by going to a real plastic surgeon. Following this advice will not only save you a lot of disappointment, it may even save your life!