Word on Health

Word On Cosmetic Procedures

Over recent years, the number of people having cosmetic surgery has increased considerably. As we highlighted on-air, 'lockdown' has seen a surge of online consultations with those clinics around the world who have remained open. 

Deciding to have cosmetic surgery is not a decision that should be taken lightly - reputable practitioners urge patients to do their research and take the time to think long and hard about the surgery and its implications before proceeding-  it can be expensive, time consuming and painful, the results cannot be guaranteed, are often permanent and cannot be reversed.

Defined as an elective surgery - meaning that a person chooses to have it rather than it being essential- Cosmetic surgery is undertaken for the sole purpose of improving a person’s physical appearance, involving changing a person’s bodily features in order to achieve what they perceive to be more desirable. (Cosmetic surgery is not the same as plastic surgery. Plastic surgery involves repairing damage to a person’s skin and tissue following injury or illness.)

Non-surgical cosmetic treatments, such as Botox (injections of botulinium toxin to make lines and wrinkles less obvious) laser treatments are examples of procedures that change a person’s appearance without using surgery. Although they dont use surgery they still have risks.

If you are thinking about having cosmetic surgery or a cosmetic procedure, please consider the following questions.

Why do you want cosmetic surgery?  This is an important question. Take the time to think it through.  You need to give the matter much careful thought and consideration. If you do decide to go ahead with surgery, you should be absolutely sure about your reasons for wanting to have it. 

Cosmetic surgery involves risk and expense. It can permanently change your physical appearance, possibly in a way you didn't expect or that leaves you unhappy. Make sure that cosmetic surgery is what you want. It is not a good idea to change your appearance because someone else wants you to or because you think it will help you get a particular job. If you are content with your appearance, do not let anyone pressure you into having cosmetic surgery. The decision needs to be your own.

If you are unhappy with your appearance, consider other ways to approach your "problem" area before deciding to have cosmetic surgery. For instance, makeup may help conceal or de-emphasize wrinkles, scars, and other skin changes. If you are unhappy with the shape of your body, changing your dress and clothing style may help you feel better about how you look. Diet and exercise can often help you achieve the body shape you desire.

What are your expectations? You are more likely to be happy with the results of cosmetic surgery if you have clear, realistic expectations and a clear understanding of why you want to have surgery. Changing an aspect of your body that you are not happy with may make you feel more attractive, more satisfied with your appearance, and freer to do things that in the past made you uncomfortable, either emotionally or physically. For some people, the impact may be dramatic. But don't expect cosmetic surgery to solve all your problems. It may change how you look and feel, but it won't change who you are.

Talking with someone who has had cosmetic surgery may raise issues that you had not considered. Ask how the person felt about the results, whether the surgery achieved the results hoped for, and what the total experience was like. Doctors who have experience with cosmetic surgery can also provide perspective on the issues involved.

Get the facts about what to expect from a particular procedure. As we heard, talk to your GP, gather as much information as possible.  Have your doctor show you photographs and explain the full range of possible results. Computer imaging can be helpful, but it can also be misleading: there is no guarantee that the end results will match those created by the computer. With some types of surgery, the results may not appear for several weeks or months after the procedure. It may take several sessions or a combination of procedures to achieve the look you want, and results are not always permanent.

If you decide to have cosmetic surgery, it is very important that you make sure that the surgeon and other healthcare professionals who will be carrying out the procedure are fully qualified, and have experience in performing the type of surgery that you are having.

There are a number of  professional bodies you can research:

British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons  www.baaps.org.uk 
British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons www.bapras.org.uk
British Association of Cosmetic Nurses  www.cosmeticnurses.org

You should discuss the procedure in detail with your surgeon, and ask as many questions as you need to so that you are fully aware of what the procedure involves, how it will be carried out, what the results will be, and whether there will be any after effects.  Once you've done all your research give your self time to think and consider everything before you make a decision to proceed.  

What are the risks of cosmetic surgery? The risks vary according to your health and the type of procedure being done-they can range from slight scarring to infection and even death. Serious complications are rare, but they can occur.

It is possible that you may be putting your health and life at unnecessary risk when you have cosmetic surgery. It's important to weigh the risks against the possible benefits.

The other major risks of cosmetic surgery are that it may not produce the changes you want and that it may produce changes that leave you even more unhappy than you were before. Additional treatment may be needed to correct the results of the initial surgery. But the results of cosmetic surgery are often irreversible.

What can you expect during recovery? Some types of cosmetic surgery are simple outpatient procedures that allow you to return to your regular activities right away. Others may require you to take days or even weeks off work. Be sure that you understand what your recovery will involve and that you are able to follow your doctor's instructions.

Overseas cosmetic surgery As we heard, a great many people have been drawn to this 'cheape' route to cosmetic proecedures via this form of health tourism - as we remind people on air - (you can hear our radio feature again via the radio player below) there can be a number of drawbacks in taking this path. 

Listen to this weeks radio report

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.