Are You Mentally Prepared For Plastic Surgery?
- 11 April 2016
Fantastic or catastrophic! The results of plastic surgeries along with the younger and better versions of celebrities have tempted many to hop on the plastic surgery bandwagon.
With plastic surgeons all over the world producing miraculous results and taking it as their duty to put things back where God intended them to be in the first place, more and more people are being inclined towards the idea of going under the knife.
Procedures that shape our body and aim at improving the outward appearance tend to have a huge impact on our psychology, an aspect seldom taken into consideration. This article will zero in on all the psychological aspects of plastic surgery, starting right from the actual motive behind the need of going under the knife, the psychological assessment of the patient and how one should be mentally prepared for the change.
The Purpose- It better be good!
The actual purpose of your surgery, the intention with which you approach your surgeon will be the very first question you’d be answering. So, be prepared! Your reason will have the greatest impact on your mental health once you’re done with the procedure, obviously if it’s good enough to convince the surgeon in the first place.
Plastic surgery is a big no-no if you’re taking it as a life changer or a relationship saver. I hate to burst your bubble here, but plastic surgery is not going to solve your personal issues. It will not change how you look at life, there won’t be a change in your social life, just a changed outward appearance.
A person who has contemplated over the idea of going under the knife over a long period of time (mostly years) makes an ideal candidate.
Apart from the health issues, people may opt for plastic surgery because despite trying hard they still have a tired (serious) look on their face, even though they feel young. This is something you would want to do for yourself not for having someone back in your life or to impress someone. A better way of finding out if you really need a surgery or not is by questioning yourself. For example;
- How do I want a specific part to change?
- Will it make me feel better? Or am I doing it for someone else?
- Had I been unsatisfied with it since beginning or was it that somebody else pointed it out and made me uncomfortable?
While one can not overlook the fact how big it is an investment in terms of time and money, it is also an emotional investment. Make sure you have a good and valid purpose for it. By valid I mean, reasons like;
- Reconstructive reasons
- Post traumatic or post surgical reasons
- Congenital defect
- Slow the aging process
- Change a specific feature that stands out (big ears or nose)
- Get rid of something that causes pain
Set Realistic Expectations
Please don’t land in the doctor’s office with a picture of model, demanding to look just like her/him. If you plan on doing this, you might have to start reading the article right from the beginning. Having realistic expectations is the single most important factor when it comes to determining the success of the procedure.
You’re here to boost your confidence maybe, enhance your self-image or feel better about yourself, not to look like a model. Set realistic expectations! Communicate each and every bit of what you want, and how you think the procedure will help you achieve it. Discussing things like these will not only help the doctor in assessing you psychologically, but will also make both of you comfortable (you slightly more).
Even if you have expectations that the surgeon believes are not real or a little too much, your surgeon can always make you understand the ground facts and bring the level of your expectations down to normal. This will indirectly determine how satisfied you end up with the procedure.
If you’re a healthcare professional, this bit might be of great help, if you’re the one considering a specific procedure, then this bit will give you an idea of why your doctor wants to know more and more about your reason.
Cosmetic procedures are superficial but permanent and they have far-reaching emotional consequences. As a doctor, merely saying ‘No, your reason is not good enough for us to continue,’ will not convince your client. Instead of categorizing the actual purpose as wrong or right, you need to focus more on why it interests your client so much. The very first meeting/consultation should involve;
- Exploring the clients and knowing them inside out
- Making them easy
- Discussing their aims and targets (with respect to the procedure of course)
- Making them understand how the surgery will help them in achieving these goals
- Correcting unrealistic expectations
- Assessing the client’s mental health
Once you’re done with the initial consultation, a detailed history is the next step. By detailed, I mean really detailed. You need to know every bit about the client. The surgeon may be well informed about;
- Past medical history (mental health issues like depression or anxiety)
- Past surgical history (previous cosmetic surgery most importantly)
- Current medications (psychotropic most importantly)
- Alcohol abuse
- Drug abuse
People with evident mental health issues will have a fair chance of not being satisfied with the surgery results, being mad at the doctor or going for additional surgeries. Not only can a plastic surgery for such patients be dangerous at emotional level, but physically too.
Your client could be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a mental illness which keeps you occupied with a physical flaw of yours all the time. This at times could be exaggerated and imaginary. A surgery here can be devastating as it could lead to;
- Serious mental illness
- Symptom exacerbation
- An increase in depression
- Repeated surgery demands
A thorough history should answer a lot of questions about you, your decision and the much talked about ‘reason’. Yet another important question that would/should be asked is ‘Why now?’ Was this decision taken after an emotional loss? With women representing 87% of all patients going for cosmetic procedures , it is important for the surgeon to see the age and phase in which the desire has developed. Does it coincide with menopause? Does it follow the loss of a loved one, or any other emotional loss?
Last but not the least, financial aspects must be discussed. Cosmetic procedures are rarely covered by insurance companies (life-threatening cases being an exception). The client should be asked if they are able to afford the expenses as well as absence from work and if they really have an idea of the financial stress that is a part and parcel of plastic surgeries.
Needless to mention the risks associated with physical transformation that occurs during the cosmetic procedure, I hope the article has succeeded in revealing the psychological aspects of the desire of going under the knife as well as the importance of their evaluation before surgery.