Five reasons you maybe shouldn't get plastic surgery – at least not yet
The basics for who is a good candidate for plastic surgery may be old news. Characteristics like being a nonsmoker, committing to leading a healthy lifestyle post-surgery and having a stable weight are tried and true features for people wanting to get plastic surgery. And given that more than 22 million people got a combination of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures in 2020 alone, there's no doubt the importance of knowing who should and shouldn't get plastic surgery for surgeons and patients alike.
Follow along as three board-certified plastic surgeons and ASPS members break down the five reasons you shouldn't get plastic surgery – at least not yet.
Individuals with unrealistic expectations
With celebrities opening up about their surgeries in the media and whispers about how all Instagram models are starting to look the same, it can be hard to know what to expect when it comes to the results of your plastic surgery procedure. The truth is, if you are wanting to morph into a different person, you might be disappointed.
"If you are a perfectionist, you may not be the best candidate for plastic surgery," said Roy Kim, MD, a plastic surgeon in San Francisco, who suggest that plastic surgery is there to fix certain issues, not to make you "perfect". "Make sure you have realistic expectations about your final result so that you will not be disappointed."
Any good plastic surgeon will tell you that plastic surgery is meant to enhance your individual beauty, not turn you in to someone else. Kim agrees, stating that no one's results are guaranteed and if a surgeon says they are, it may be best to look elsewhere.
Those who are pursuing surgery for someone else
If you are planning to get plastic surgery, you should have a very clear idea of what you want and why you want it. You should get plastic surgery for you and only you.
"If you feel internal pressure to do it for others, or external pressure from family or friends to do it for them, then you should strongly consider not having anything done at all," said Kim.
Kim suggests that individuals talk to someone they trust like a family member or therapist to figure out if the procedure you want to get is truly for yourself. He also said it's important to focus on your mental and physical health prior to surgery to ensure the best outcome if you and your surgeon decide to go through with the procedure.
You don't have a good support system
While the results that come out of plastic surgery might be pretty, the recovery process can be less than pleasing to the eye. From dressings and bandages to bed rest and drains, recovery – from most plastic surgery procedures – can require assistance. While some surgeries like breast augmentation require shorter recovery time than say, a tummy tuck, you will still need help with everyday tasks like showering and opening heavy doors – at least for the first few weeks.
"It is also important to have a good support system and post-operative plan in place," said Sybile Val, MD, an Atlanta-based plastic surgeon. "Those who do not have support/assistance during the immediate operative period may also be poor surgical candidates as one will need some assistance during the recovery period."
If you don't have a support system at home, you might want to consider your other options. In some cases, patients who need extra support can opt for outpatient care. Talk to your plastic surgeon about what options may be right for you.
Individuals who suffer from body dysmorphia
Of all the concerns plastic surgeons bring up about perspective patients – and there are many – body dysmorphia seemed to be at the top of the list. Body dysmorphia has become a trendy term, often used as a joke, to describe an individual who hyper-focuses on an imagined flaw in their body. While most everyone has some sort of insecurity, body dysmorphia goes beyond that, and when it comes to a procedure that could alter your body forever, patients need to be sure they are in a clear state of mind.
"If a seemingly normal patient already has larger-than-life concerns over his or her appearance, it is impossible to determine how he or she will react to a surgically altered facial feature or body part – even if the result is by most standards very beautiful," said Kristy Hamilton, MD, a plastic surgeon in Houston.
With a procedure like a tummy tuck or rhinoplasty that can never be entirely undone, Hamilton always asks her patients if they are 100% sure they want to proceed with surgery before doing so. She also suggests patients exhaust all their other options before pursuing surgery.
You have a health issue
If you've looked into getting any type of plastic surgery procedure done, I'm sure you've heard the importance of being physically heathy. And while this is true, these statements are often framed to ensure that patients are within their ideal weight. With this, patients often ask, "what does it truly mean to be healthy?"
"If you are not at your optimal health physically, you may not be a good surgical candidate," said Val. But this goes beyond just your BMI – although that is an important factor as well. According to Val, other components that make you a poor candidate for plastic surgery include poor medical compliance with medications, personal history of cardiac or pulmonary disease, undiagnosed/untreated bleeding disorders or family history of complication with general anesthesia.
If you are uncertain as to whether plastic surgery is right for you, talk with a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area. A surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons will have the necessary knowledge and training to guide you through your options.
To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.