Self-image is the perception of how we believe we look to others, and it’s important to our well-being to have a positive self-image. Aesthetic plastic surgery changes something about a person’s appearance that, for one reason or another, they believe detracts from her or his overall attractiveness, thus affects their self-image.
The vast majority of my cosmetic surgery patients are well-adjusted individuals who simply want to feel more confident about their appearance. As a board-certified plastic surgeon in Chicago, one of my responsibilities is to discuss both the physical and emotional aspects of having an aesthetic procedure–including some pretty typical adjustments most patients experience after their surgeries.
In this post, I’ll share some tips that can help patients prepare for some of the emotional ups and downs they may experience following aesthetic surgery:
- Scheduling a procedure: The timing of surgery is important. I encourage patients to avoid choosing a time when you anticipate being under increased emotional or physical stress. If an unforeseen stressful situation occurs, you may even want to consider rescheduling the procedure.
- Adjusting to changes: Whether someone has rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, or a facelift, it’s going to take some time to get used to the new you–not unlike adjusting to a new hairstyle. Of course, you should still look like yourself after surgery, just an enhanced version of you. And if you’re worried about your results being too obvious, chances are no one will be scrutinizing your appearance the way you are at this point.
- Post-op depression: It is fairly common for patients to experience some level of sadness in the first few weeks after surgery, especially if they are prone to anxiety or depression. It’s sometimes called the “30-day blues.” In some ways, it can be similar to post-partum depression. The excitement and anticipation that precedes getting plastic surgery can be followed by a sense of letdown. This may be combined with exhaustion, metabolic changes, residual effects of anesthesia, and stress. Patients may also get frustrated as they wait for the final results of their procedures to appear. Maintaining a safe level of social and physical activity can help you get through this stage. Of course, if these feelings worsen or do not go away after a few weeks, consult your physician.
- Handling negative comments: It’s possible that you’ll encounter negative responses to your decision to get plastic surgery. Even though any stigma attached to cosmetic surgery is all but gone, some people still feel the need to be critical. Keep your response short and non-defensive, such as, “This is something I did for myself and I’m very happy with the results.” Of course, sometimes the best response is no response at all.
One way to increase the chances of feeling positive after your surgery is to clearly communicate your goals and expectations during the consultation with your plastic surgeon. And I encourage my patients to learn more about our practice prior to surgery and to contact us with any post-op concerns that they may have, whether they are physical or emotional.
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