When I was a wee 28 years old, I said to my mom with a bit of a pout, “I want my 18-year-old body back.” “Honey,” she replied, “we all do.”
Diet and exercise go a long way in getting as close as you can to that 18-year-old body you remember, but everyone at some time or another finds themselves looking in the mirror, pulling on their face, sucking in their stomach or covering up a big breast, wondering, “Do I need plastic surgery?” Maybe. But there are a few things you should know before we get to the 10 signs that you might need that chin implant or breast reduction you’ve been obsessing over.
Know the Difference between Plastic Surgery and Cosmetic Surgery
According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, cosmetic surgery focuses on enhancing your appearance with various medical techniques. One thing about cosmetic surgery is that you can have cosmetic work done on pretty much any part of your body – from arm liposuction to breast reduction, but because it is only to change aesthetics and not how your body actually functions, it is considered an elective procedure.
Plastic surgery, on the other hand, is using surgical intervention to reconstruct defects of the body that are present because of birth disorders, diseases, and traumas or burns. Plastic and reconstructive surgery both intended to correct dysfunction instead of having an aesthetic appeal as the goal.
One thing is for sure, though, you don’t want to end up with bad plastic surgery, so you should ask your cosmetic or plastic surgeon about their education and training. Typically, both go to medical school, followed by a residency, after which they attain board certification. However, plastic surgeons complete their residency in plastic surgery, and cosmetic surgeons do not. Plastic surgeons can receive training in cosmetic surgery as part of their residency or pursue additional training in cosmetic surgery through workshops, seminars, etc.
When it comes to certifications, cosmetic surgeons can become certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. Surgeons certified by the ABCS have successfully completed a one-year fellowship training after their residency. However, it is important to note that any licensed physician can perform cosmetic surgery, which is why it is important to understand what certifications they hold.
Plastic surgeons are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) but can also get a second certification from the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery after they have completed the necessary training. The ABPS is the most rigorous certification in this specialty area and the only specialty recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties for plastic surgery for the whole body.
Know Plastic Surgery Risks Associated with Your Procedure
Plastic surgery risks come with every procedure, and cosmetic and plastic surgeons often comment on how surprised they are by the lack of questions prospective patients pose during consultations. Though some people might ask a million questions when they take their car in to get fixed, that same person will hardly question a doctor about the plastic surgery risks associated with their arm liposuction, or any other procedure for that matter.
The list below highlights a few of the most common procedures and some of their associated risks.
Know the Things Plastic Surgeons Won’t Tell You
Doctors can be biased.
Americans spend billions of dollars every year on cosmetic treatments, so it is no surprise that many surgeons will gravitate toward cosmetic procedures as a way to offset the cost of malpractice premiums and reduced insurance reimbursements. As a result, a physician is sometimes motivated to promote his or her procedure over other less invasive options to cover their practice costs.
As one physician frankly put it, if he spends $200,000 on a laser machine, that is his most likely recommendation even though there are cheaper options available. Since this is one of the things plastic surgeons won’t tell you outright, be sure to ask if other alternatives exist that work as well, or even better, than the one your doctors suggests during your consultation.
Not all recoveries are created equally.
One of the risks of plastic surgery is that recovery will be more than you can handle. One tummy tuck patient who also had liposuction said her doctor advised her that she would have some “discomfort” after surgery. Unfortunately, “discomfort” didn’t even begin to describe what she called the most intense pain she’d ever felt. After the pain came the swelling, which lasted for seven long months. These results might not be typical, but ask your doctor to be specific about your expected pain level and length of recovery.
Bad plastic surgery can also result in painful or extended recoveries, so be sure to do your research into the qualifications and experience of the surgeon you select.
Who would your doctor let operate on her?
When asked this question, one surgeon responded that he would want a doctor who was certified and experienced enough to train other doctors. There is actually a name for this type of doctor: Fellowship Director. If you want the best, then try searching for a doctor in your area with this professional qualification.
Know if You are a Good Candidate
You might ask, “Should I get plastic surgery?” “Only if you’re a good candidate,” is what every plastic and cosmetic surgeon would likely reply. And, just because you saw a celebrity plastic surgery documentary and want to look like Jennifer Aniston doesn’t mean you’re a good candidate. But, how do you know if you’re a good or bad plastic surgery candidate? Here are a few ways to tell based on recommendations from industry professionals.
- are healthy
- know the risks and possible side effects
- have reasonable expectations
- have serious health issues like diabetes, heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, etc.
- are obese
- smoke or drink excessive amounts of alcohol
Signs that you Might Need Cosmetic Work Done
If you have read all of the above and are still asking yourself, “Do I need plastic surgery?”, then here are ten common signs that indicate it might be worth calling a plastic surgeon for a consultation.
Sign #1: There are parts of your body YOU are not happy with.
Maybe you feel like a chin implant would make you happy, or you’re tired of the bat wings under your arms, and you feel like you would look better and be more confident if you could “fix” them. Too often, cosmetic procedures are done at the request of someone other than the patient, so be sure that you are doing this for you and no one else.
That said, you might be curious if what you are thinking of having done is common. To give you an idea of what others are doing, the 5 most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in 2017, were
- Breast augmentation and breast reduction
- Rhinoplasty/nose job
- Abdominoplasty, or Tummy Tuck
- Various forms of liposuction, including arm liposuction
- Vaginal rejuvenation
Sign #2: Life is starting to take its toll
Over the course of your life, you accumulate blemishes and flaws: the stretch marks from the big breast growth you had during pregnancy, misshapen features because of accidents, or maybe you just have some sort of weird shaped something that you’ve had from birth. If you feel like there are too many of these or are unhappy with one big one, cosmetic surgery might be a way to rectify them.
Sign #3: Your smile lines never stop smiling
Everyone ages, just some age more subtly than others, right? When you’re in your 30’s, wrinkles might show up, but they disappear with some sleep and proper hydration. Once you hit your 40’s though, you might notice that they are here to stay. If so, you might consider some sort of cosmetic procedure.
Sign #4: You’ve tried all the over the counter anti-aging creams you can find
There are literally hundreds of products that you can buy at your local drug store that address the signs of aging, but, you’ve been up and down the aisles and talked to every sales person within a hundred-mile radius and haven’t been able to find one that gets rid of the wrinkles or droopy eyelids or stretch marks that are driving you crazy. If this is you, you might be a good candidate for plastic surgery.
Sign #5: You are OK with scars
Scar-free surgery is a myth. Of course, plastic surgeons will know how to hide them or camouflage the ones they can’t hide, but you need to find out exactly what scars will be where and how big they will be, whether you’re having an advanced cosmetic surgery done or just a simple procedure. This is particularly important if you wear low cut blouses, hip huggers, two-piece bathing suits, etc., or if your employment is based around your appearance (models, dancers, actors, and the like).
Sign #6: You’ve got money to spare
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average costs of breast reduction in 2017 was almost $5500, and an abdominoplasty cost almost $6000. Sure there are ways to finance it, but if it puts a strain on your budget, consider whether there are other places that you could spend your money. You might be saying “I want plastic surgery so bad!” today, but are you going to want to be making those payments months or years down the road? What if you need revision surgery? Will you be willing to pay for that, too?
Sign #7: You’ve recently lost a lot of weight
Losing a lot of weight in a short amount of time has its benefits, but it also can leave people with excess skin that sags and is unattractive. This is particularly common around the face and abdomen. Over time, the skin’s elasticity might improve, and the excess will decrease, but some people require surgery to eliminate excess skin that simply won’t go away on its own. Depending on the amount of skin you have to remove, you might need a more advanced cosmetic surgery procedure, so be sure to discuss all of the options with your doctor.
Sign #8: You’ve been involved in an accident
One of the most common reasons people seek out advanced cosmetic surgery is because an accident has left them with a scar or other disfigurement, and they would like to look like they did before the accident. Your surgeon will be able to tell you if this is possible, so if this is why you are considering it, bring a picture of yourself before the accident to your consultation, and ask the doctor if he can return your body to its prior shape.
Sign #9: You want immediate results that last
Those over the counter options you tried worked for a while, but lately you’ve noticed that it’s just not having the same effect as it once did. Maybe it’s not working as well, or if it is, the results last half of the time they did in the past. Aside from the recovery period, most plastic surgery patients can see immediate results from their procedures that last several years. Keep in mind, though, that procedures like facelifts are not immune to the aging clock. After 10 years or so, you might notice additional sagging and wrinkles and need another procedure to achieve the initial results.
Sign #10: You have time to recover
Of course, when you undergo a surgical facelift, it is important to remember that you do need time to recover as your body will need to rest. When that rest and recovery time has ended, you should be able to see immediate results, but you can sometimes need two to three weeks to achieve a full recovery. Make sure you discuss with your doctor how long your recovery will last and what you can and cannot do during that period.
Alternatives to Plastic Surgery
After reading the list of reasons you might need plastic surgery, you might find yourself thinking, “I need plastic surgery but can’t afford it.” If this is the case, consider some of the other alternatives to surgery which are less expensive and sometimes just as effective.
If wrinkles are your concern, seek out a provider who can administer BOTOX® Cosmetic or other dermal fillers that smooth wrinkles. These treatments are much less expensive than a facelift and can last anywhere from 3 months to a year and a half. They also offer immediate results and much shorter recovery time.
Therapy or counseling
Many of the people who seek out cosmetic surgery – men and women alike – are more prone to psychological difficulties than those who don’t. If you are considering having your appearance altered, you might want to do a little introspection and be sure you know WHY you want to have it done. It can often be beneficial to have an objective person who is trained in psychological treatment help you with this, and many patients find that they don’t want the surgery they thought they did after spending time discussing it with a counselor.
When all is said and done, there are many valid reasons for having plastic surgery. There are also factors that might make plastic surgery unpalatable. Do your research, talk to your doctor, and be sure to ask lots and lots of questions before you decide to go under the knife.
In the meantime…
If you’re looking for some immediate relief from wrinkles and want to tighten up your skin, one of the most popular wrinkle creams on the market right now is RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Retinol Night Cream.
If scars are your concern, one of the best-selling scar creams is Mederma’s Advanced Scar Gel. It works on old scars as well as more recent ones to improve the over appearance.