Is the end result of cosmetic surgery worth the trouble?

The recovery process

It's unrealistic to expect that you will see results right after surgery. The reality is there will be a period of recovery, and that timeframe depends on what procedure was performed. Be patient for the result and, just as with any other surgery, make plans to ensure a smooth recovery. This can include things such as:

  • having a support team to help you with daily tasks, especially in the days immediately following surgery
  • avoiding strenuous exercise and opting for leisurely walks instead – ask your surgeon what he or she recommends
  • planning with your employer to take a few days off work to recuperate following surgery, if needed
  • expecting that the swelling and bruising will take time to heal before results can be seen
  • arranging for someone else to drive for you while you are on medications for pain

Going through the recovery period can be physically and emotionally draining. Some even experience post-operative depression. Give yourself time to adjust to your new body. With some procedures, the final result may not be apparent until one year after surgery.

It is important to follow your doctor's instructions carefully about how to take care of yourself during the healing process to avoid infections and other complications. Infections may occur more frequently in people who go overseas to have cosmetic surgery done. If you overexert yourself, the price of your cosmetic procedure might be more than just monetary.

Is cosmetic surgery right for you?

So, is it worth all the trouble to go under the knife? This is a question that's been on many psychologists' and researchers' minds. In an effort to make sense of it all, many studies have been conducted to understand what goes on in a person's psyche and whether the end justifies the means. Most people adjust well after cosmetic surgery, but some do not. There are still lots of questions about how cosmetic surgery affects people psychologically and more research is needed to get the answers.

Keep in mind that even after cosmetic surgery, your body will continue to change over time. The positive self-image that was found with surgery might gradually deteriorate.

Still, Canadians spend over half a billion dollars each year on cosmetic surgery. But important questions remain: What are the consequences of cosmetic surgery? Does it really improve a person's self-esteem and their image of themselves? Is it always a happily-ever-after scenario?

Experienced surgeons know that it is not always happily-ever-after. In fact, they know that not everyone is emotionally and mentally prepared to handle a body-altering procedure. This is a necessary assessment, because someone who is not a good candidate can have unrealistic expectations of cosmetic surgery, resulting in varying degrees of disappointment after surgery.

People who aren't good candidates for cosmetic surgery are to those who:

  • are looking for an unrealistic personal standard of perfection
  • are very harsh on themselves and difficult to please
  • have mental illness
  • are going through a life crisis such as divorce or death of a spouse
  • obsesses over one minor area of their body (i.e., have body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD)

Someone with BDD has a distorted view of their body. They will tend to focus on a specific aspect or part of their body and become obsessive over it. Cosmetic surgery may not improve their overall sense of self - in some cases, it might make things worse.

On the other hand, a good candidate for a cosmetic procedure is someone who already possesses a good self-image, but is dissatisfied with a certain part of their body that can be improved through surgery. Other good candidates include people who have a concern such as a physical defect that has slowly reduced their self-image over time. These two groups are good candidates because they go into the procedure with realistic expectations, and they generally have a more positive experience.

There are many ways you can improve a trouble area on your body. Makeup, clothing, and even a fresh haircut can boost your self-image. Exercise is another great way to feel better about your body.

Ultimately, the decision to choose cosmetic surgery is a very personal one. This decision requires much consideration, research, and consultation. It is not a choice that should be made hastily and emotionally. Just because it seems like everyone is doing it doesn't mean that it is right for you. If in doubt, there is no harm in waiting.

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