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Cosmetic surgery: Are you a good candidate?

You are a good candidate for cosmetic surgery if you have a healthy lifestyle and understand the risks and limitations of cosmetic surgery. This means:

  • You are not overweight
  • You take regular exercise
  • You don't smoke
  • You are emotionally stable
  • You have friends who provide support
  • You can limit your alcohol and caffeine intake
  • You accept the disadvantages of cosmetic surgery such as the cost, inconvenience, discomfort and medical risk

You must have realistic expectations about your cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery cannot change your life or make you 20 years younger. In fact, your lifestyle may increase the risk of complications and could cause your new look to fade early.

You may be a poor candidate for cosmetic surgery if you have serious health problems such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • A bleeding disorder
  • Heart or lung disease
  • Obesity
  • Severe allergies
  • Elevated (high) cholesterol
  • Arthritis
  • Depression

If you suffer from any of these health problems, or if you smoke or drink alcohol excessively, you face a higher risk of complications such as infection, bleeding, skin loss and problems due to the anaesthetic.

Some surgeons insist that smokers stop smoking for two to four weeks prior to surgery. Once these patients have had surgery, they must remain smoke-free for two to four weeks afterwards. This allows the body to heal properly.

Make sure you give your surgeon your complete medical history including details of any medicines you take such as aspirin, vitamins, contraceptive pills and herbal compounds and supplements. These products can interfere with blood clotting or with other medicines used during surgery.

Making the decision to have cosmetic surgery

Your skin type and other unique characteristics are factors to consider when deciding whether to have a particular cosmetic procedure. For example, skin resurfacing techniques work best on people with fair skin and light coloured hair. People with thin and delicate nasal skin get the best results from nose surgery (rhinoplasty).

Commonly stated good reasons for seeking cosmetic surgery include the following:

  • “I want to do it for myself”
  • “I look into the mirror and I don’t recognise that person”
  • “I feel young, I exercise, but I don’t look the way I feel”
  • “People keep telling me I look tired or angry”

Ill-advised reasons for seeking cosmetic surgery include the following:

  • “My spouse/partner is leaving me. I’m looking for a boost”
  • “My spouse has died and I’m looking for a pick-me-up”

It’s important to be honest with yourself about why you want to correct a certain part of your body. You may be doing it for reconstructive purposes, either because of a congenital defect or one that developed as a result of trauma or injury. Or you may be doing it to slow the ageing process. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your desire for cosmetic surgery:

  • What is your motivation? Do you think your spouse or partner will love you more? Or are you doing this for yourself?
  • What is it about that flawed part of your body that you want to correct and why? When did you start thinking about cosmetic surgery? Was it because you wanted to do something about it, or was it because somebody else made a remark?
  • What are your expectations? Are they realistic? Are you seeking to correct slight ageing irregularities, or is this a way to make up for deeper issues?
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