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Plastic Surgery — A Frown Turned Upside Down?


According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, more than 90 percent of women had some type of cosmetic procedure and 1.5 million involved surgery. The most popular procedures included breast augmentation, liposuction, eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty, and abdominoplasty.

Psychologist, Vivian Diller, Ph.D., says that women need to ask themselves several questions before undergoing any type of cosmetic procedure:

“I use the acronym S.A.F.E to help women make good choices regarding cosmetic procedures,” says Diller. “I encourage my clients to think about these four issues, safety, affordability, for whom, and expectations, before undergoing any procedure. I tell them that they need to make sure they feel good about themselves on the inside and not use surgery as a magic wand,” adds Diller. “Use the acronym S.A.F.E. to remember to ask the right questions before you have cosmetic work done on your face or body.”

Of course safety should seem like a no-brainer, but many women are hesitant about doing the most basic research on cosmetic procedures or on the doctors they choose to perform the surgery. Women also forget to find out about the anesthesiologist. They can be the most responsible person that makes sure you stay alive during your procedure.

Dr. Jon LaPook, medical correspondent for CBS Evening News says, “Anesthesiologists are more than just the person who controls pain during the procedure. He or she is responsible for keeping your blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen level at the proper levels and for resuscitating you if something goes wrong.” According to LaPook it is up to the anesthesiologist, not the surgeon, to decide if the surgery is medically cleared.

“There are two main reasons why an anesthesiologist should recommend canceling an elective procedure,” says LaPook. “One would be if the patient is medically too sick to undergo surgery and the risks outweigh the benefits (i.e. the person has out of control diabetes and blood sugar levels are too high), and two, the anesthesiologist feels the procedure is not indicated, but that is rarely the case with cosmetic surgeries,” comments LaPook. “When everybody else, surgeon included, are swept up in a decision to do a procedure that’s not in the best interest of the patient, the anesthesiologist represents one last chance for somebody to speak up and say, ‘not on my watch.’ It would be a nice safety net for the patient.”

Most surgeons are extremely open and thoughtful to answering questions their patients may have, but studies show that many procedures would never be done if all the options, including doing nothing at all, were properly explained. “Think carefully about what you hope to accomplish,” advises psychologist Vivian Diller. “Some women are unrealistic about cosmetic surgery. They are shown before and after pictures that look transforming but lack credibility. Plastic surgery can do marvelous things for those who have realistic expectation, but magic it is not,” warns Diller. “It does not make an older woman young, nor does it necessarily transform a woman’s appearance. The most satisfying surgeries are the ones that make small changes that result in a refreshed and healthier looking appearance.”

Women unfortunately rely on magazine ads, friends, or no information at all when deciding to go ahead with cosmetic surgery, a decision that can have permanent ramifications on their lives. Before undergoing any procedure it is important that you ask the surgeon or dermatologist if they are board certified and if the procedure is FDA approved. You should also list personal questions relating to the procedure, and have the doctor relay the pros and cons of it. Questions may include how long will the benefits last? Will there be pain? Do I need anesthesia? How long is my recovery time and can anything be done to avoid bruising or speeding up the recovery? How many years has the procedure been done?

Cosmetic surgery is a personal decision, and only you, not your friends, not your family, not your doctor, have to live with the results. When it comes to your body, your face, and the aging process, treat it like any other important decision in your life.

Take the time to really get the facts and understand what you are doing before going under the knife.

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