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The Personal Support Network and the Cosmetic Patient

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

The Cosmetic Surgery Decision and A Strong Support Network

Right now, as you’re reading the Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Clinic blog, more people than you realize are contemplating some type of a cosmetic procedure or treatment.  According to survey results from the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), “…the number of procedures performed annually has risen 45 percent over the last two years…”  Direct article link is :  http://www.aafprs.org/media/stats_polls/m_stats.html

Cosmetic surgery in Champaign/Urbana is no longer reserved as the domain of the rich and famous – that perception is as outdated as bobby socks and saddle shoes.  Procedures such as breast augmentation, liposculpture and facial surgery are within the reach of the average citizen and have lost the “privileged-only” status of the past.  Now that cosmetic surgery and cosmetic treatments are readily available – the term “aging gracefully” has lost both significance and impact.  Yes, of course we all are “aging,” but “gracefully” is a relative term to both our lifestyles and society as a whole.

When you strip the aesthetic concept down to the bare bones, every person that showers, shaves or brushes their teeth is performing a cosmetic activity to both look and feel better.  Even individuals who hesitate to undergo a surgical procedure have no problem with teeth whitening, laser hair removal, hair coloring, microdermabrasion, medical-grade skin care, mineral cosmetics, etc. – all of which are performed for cosmetic purposes.

So, basically, I believe that rather than a true opposition to the cosmetic industry, it’s more about the level of investment that each of us (both physical and monetary) are personally willing to dedicate toward improving our appearance that may generate a biased attitude toward some cosmetic procedures.  Our society, as a whole, has changed drastically in its perception of cosmetic plastic surgery.

I distinctly remember several years ago when I decided to undergo a cosmetic procedure.  I have absolute trust and confidence in the skill of my surgeon (G. D. Castillo, MD, FACS, of course!), but I still found myself somewhat hesitant to share my decision with others.  Initially, I wondered “what would they say to me or about me to others?  Will they consider me vain or selfish for investing in myself?  Will they try to talk me out of it?”

It was win-win for me.  My husband understood that it was my decision and he was supportive and wonderful (as always)!  My children?  Well, it went from “really, Mom, you don’t need anything done,” to “you’re doing what?”  But both of my kids (teenagers) respected my wishes and were nonjudgmental about my decision.  My three sisters thought it was absolutely great; their excitement rivaled my own.  Of course my mother thinks I’m perfect but she respected my decision too.  I also chose to share my decision with a very few select friends and I’m happy to report that only one responded negatively.

Remember, a cosmetic surgical procedure may be elective medical care, but it is still the real thingSurgery with a capital “S.”  There is some post surgical discomfort, limited down time and several different stages of the recovery process before obtaining the end result.  While discomfort and inconvenience are minimized, it’s still not a magic pill for the patient.  A cosmetic procedure is a road to improvement and the pavement may have the occasional rough surface.  The cosmetic process requires dedication to the end result and a strong support network can help the post-surgical developments transition smoothly and avoid emotional valleys.

Let’s face it, following cosmetic surgery a person is more emotionally vulnerable than they are likely to have ever been before in regard to their appearance.  Naturally, a supportive network of family and friends can ease the transition from the first few hours of “Hmmm…what did I do?” to “Wow!  So glad I did!”

So, while the decision to pursue a cosmetic procedure is yours and yours alone, your support network can play a vital role in the experience itself.  If you are contemplating this investment in yourself, a few ideas that you may want to consider are:

1.  Initially restrict your confidence to your own personal inner circle.  These are the people who are most likely to respect your feelings and support your decision accordingly.

2.  When talking about the surgery, share your decision rather than asking for validation – you may be pleasantly surprised by just how supportive your personal network is.

3.  During recovery, let your cosmetic surgeon measure your progress…healing takes time and hourly mirror checks are counter productive.  Remember, the payoff has to be fantastic or people wouldn’t keep doing it.

4.  DO put yourself in a holding pattern for the amount of time your surgeon recommends (usually anywhere from 2 to 10 days depending on the procedure) – don’t make the mistake of having cosmetic surgery on Monday and still think you’re going to host that awesome Wednesday afternoon luncheon.

5.  Most importantly, be realistic.  Talk in depth with your plastic surgeon.  Put the time and trouble into having all your questions both asked and answered.

6.  Lastly, listen carefully and cooperate fully with your medical team for the best possible post-operative experience.  I know that at Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, we care about our patients and are fully vested in you having the most positive experience possible.

After you’re fully recovered and are enjoying that new bounce in your step and all those “have you lost weight?” or “did you change your hair?” questions, don’t be surprised when that treasured member of your support network says to you – “Hey, I’d like to talk to you about a personal decision I’ve made…”

 

COSMETIC PLASTIC SURGERY, SKIN RESTORATION & LASER INSTITUTE

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