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Cosmetic surgery self-assessment

Many people who seek cosmetic surgery do it to feel better about themselves.

However, cosmetic surgery may not be appropriate for every person or every problem.

The plastic surgeon's body BAAPS (British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) says the person considering a cosmetic procedure is the expert on their appearance and concerns. A cosmetic surgeon should not try to raise any extra concerns, but should give unbiased information about what is possible as well as explaining the risks.

Although cosmetic surgery is unlikely to be available on the NHS, a conversation with your GP about a possible procedure is free and non-judgemental.

If you are considering cosmetic surgery, take some time to contemplate these questions:

1. Why am I considering cosmetic surgery?

The healthiest reason to have cosmetic surgery is to improve your self-image -- the way that you feel about yourself. People who have a strong self-image are usually more confident, effective in work and social situations, and comfortable with their relationships. Cosmetic surgery is often thought of as psychological surgery. Its purpose is to enhance your feeling of well-being and to foster emotional health.

2. Am I having cosmetic surgery to please others or myself?

Make sure that you are considering cosmetic surgery for internal reasons having to do with yourself, and not external reasons. Cosmetic surgery cannot stop your partner from leaving you. It cannot bring you new friends. It cannot get you a better job. You'll likely be disappointed in the results if you are having cosmetic surgery to please someone else.

3. Are my expectations realistic?

Having realistic expectations may be the single most important factor in achieving a successful result. Cosmetic surgery can dramatically improve your appearance, but it has limitations. It is unwise to expect that cosmetic surgery can create the face of a celebrity (with the hope of acquiring a celebrity lifestyle) or restore the lost youth of decades past.

4. Am I emotionally prepared for cosmetic surgery?

There are certain circumstances under which cosmetic surgery may be inappropriate. These include a crisis or an emotional upheaval such as divorce, death of a spouse or loss of a job. Also, surgeons are reluctant to consider cosmetic surgery on patients who are depressed, have significant mental illness, are impossible to please, or are obsessed with perfection.

5. Is now the best time for cosmetic surgery?

Even if you are emotionally prepared for cosmetic surgery, you may want to delay surgery if you are under external pressure or preoccupied with other matters. Plan your surgery when you are relaxed and can afford the time to convalesce and heal afterwards. Otherwise, you may face longer and more difficult recovery periods.

6. How will I adjust to the change in my body image?

It may take some time for you to adjust to your new body image. This is especially true for procedures that create a major change to your face, such as nose surgery ( rhinoplasty). Procedures such as botulinum toxin injections (Botox, Dysport and Vistabel), which merely create a younger looking you, are easier to accept.


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