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Thinking about plastic surgery? Here is what you need to ask yourself before you go


Almost everyone, sooner or later, may feel a tad insecure about a certain area of their body. Whether a genetic trait, the result of trauma or the inevitable changes that accompany the aging process, some people can struggle for years with low self-esteem tied to cosmetic issues. Unfortunately, no amount of diet or exercise will improve the shape of their nose, their breast size or eliminate stubborn pockets of unsightly fat. Although "going under the knife" with plastic surgery may sound like the fastest and easiest way to improve the appearance, a surgical procedure is not right for everyone. If you are one of the thousands of people thinking about plastic surgery, carefully weigh out all of your options before committing to an invasive procedure. Start by asking yourself the following four questions:

Why do you want surgery?

While "why you want surgery" may seem obvious at first, really take a moment to contemplate the root of your insecurity. Have you always wanted larger, more proportionate breasts or is your current boyfriend pushing you to have a more voluptuous figure? Have you been working on eliminating your "muffin top" at the gym for years, with little success? Or have you recently been through a major life event—such as a divorce, break up or job loss—and suddenly think a flatter stomach would make you feel better about yourself?

Plastic surgery can offer a new lease on life and dramatically improve your confidence. However, jumping on the operating table to please someone else, or during an unstable time of your life, is not an act of self-love. This can be dangerous and leave you further disappointed with your appearance. Wait until you are sure the aesthetic procedure is for you and only you.

Have you done your research?

Luckily, today there is a plethora of exceptional information about any and every plastic surgery procedure available on the internet. Details about the ideal candidate, before and after photographs, cost, recovery commitments and potential complications can be perused from the comfort of your living room. Educate yourself about the desired procedure, and look at the results on people with a body type similar to your own.

When you think you are ready to move forward with a plastic surgery procedure, take your time to find the best, board-certified plastic surgeon in your area. Sites like American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) let you look through each surgeon's qualifications and read testimonials written by real patients. Finally, there is no substitute for a face-to-face consultation. At this time, the surgeon can review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and determine if the desired procedure is right for your needs.

Can you afford the procedure?

A surgical procedure can be costly, and unfortunately, most plastic surgery is considered cosmetic, therefore is not covered by health insurance. Many reputable, board-certified plastic surgeons offer a variety of payment options, including cash, all major credit cards and health care financing. During your consultation, your patient coordinator will explain all of the available options, helping to find one that best fits your budget.

Begin with the consultation; is the first appointment free or will the cost be deducted from the price of your procedure? During the consultation appointment, be sure to get the exact price for your intended procedure. Double check with your patient coordinator that there are no hidden fees – the total cost should include the surgeon's fee, cost of the anesthesiologist, the surgical center's fees, follow-up appointments and surgical/compression garments. Don't forget to figure in the cost of any medications and lost wages, especially if your procedure requires an extended amount of time away from work.

Are you ready for the recovery?

You may be so excited about the chance for shapely new breasts or a flat stomach that you forget to consider the recovery period. Remember that you will be tired, sore, swollen and bruised for a few days, or even a few weeks after surgery, depending on the extent of your procedure. While breast augmentation may only require a few days of rest, a tummy tuck or body lift can require several weeks away from work and help with routine chores around the house. To avoid complications, do not push yourself; make sure you can take your surgeon's suggested amount of time off of work or school.

If you have children, consider who will help with their care. Heavy lifting may not be allowed for four to six weeks, and this includes picking up kids. You will not be able to drive until all pain medications have been stopped. Arrange for a friend or family member to assist with the kiddos for as long as needed, ensuring a safe and effective healing period.

The bottom line: Do your research, then place your trust in a board-certified plastic surgeon. Take your time deciding on the best procedure for your unique needs and budget. If you are not comfortable with the doctor or office after your consultation, get a second or third opinion. Once you are happy with the answers to these four, key questions, you just might be ready to move forward with plastic surgery.

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