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Your Self Image and Cosmetic Surgery
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There are two aspects of your self image to consider in relation to cosmetic surgery. The first is your self image before the surgery, what motivates you to go through with it. And the second is your self image after the surgery, and how you adapt to major change.

When you first meet with a cosmetic surgeon, he or she will ask you questions about your motivation for undergoing the procedure. Part of the reason for this interview is to gauge your self image. Cosmetic surgeons should advise a patient with poor self image against cosmetic surgery. In fact, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons identifies only two types of patients who should get cosmetic surgery. The first is someone with strong confidence who desires to improve an aspect of her physical appearance. The second is a patient who has lived with a cosmetic flaw or slight defect for life and wants to change this particular aspect of her appearance.

Some women are driven by the urge to please somebody else, or to gain attention from others. Other women have unrealistic goals and expectations from surgery. Sometimes unhappiness with other aspects of life will manifest itself in the desire for cosmetic change. Even after the procedure, these patients might still be unhappy. Some patients become fixated on a specific, minor flaw in their appearance and believe that through perfection of this flaw they will be complete. Other patients might seek out consultations and opinions from various surgeons to find the answers they want. With all of these examples, cosmetic surgery is an illusion that presents the option for fulfillment of desires that really aren’t related to physical appearance. Hopefully your surgeon will be able to talk to you about your emotional health and self image before going through with the procedure. It’s wise to discuss the idea with your provider or a therapist before you even talk to a cosmetic surgeon. In fact, you should consider a psychological workup prior to the surgery, and most cosmetic surgeons recommend some form of therapy throughout the cosmetic surgery process.

After the surgery, you will experience two changes. Obviously, your physical appearance will be changed. But also, your self image will be changed. Sometimes it will take a long time to adapt to this change in your self-image. Some procedures yield more dramatic results than others. For example, a breast implant might be much more noticeable than a chemical peel. You can expect the adaptation period to be longer for the more dramatic changes. Timing may be a key factor in how you feel after surgery. If you go through cosmetic surgery during an emotionally trying time such as a divorce or a job change, you might be unpleasantly surprised after your surgery. You might have sought out a solution to your other problems through the surgery, only to realize that a new nose won’t bring your husband back.

Sometimes, a patient will have great expectations for the results of a surgery, with a specific image of the change in mind. Most cosmetic procedures are relatively unpredictable. You must come to terms with the fact that you just might not look how you thought you would look after the surgery. Be prepared, because many women feel let down after a surgery and these feelings can lead to depression. Also, recognize that it sometimes takes a long time to fully heal and recover after a surgery, you might be bruised, swollen, or need to wear a bandage. Those picture perfect results you dreamed of might not match up to the scary post-op reflection you see in the mirror. Whatever your issues are, being realistic and prepared for cosmetic surgery will help you adapt to the initial shock of such a big change.