The Importance of Setting Realistic Expectations
Cosmetic treatments or cosmetic surgery may seem like a good option if you want to change your appearance. But before you start looking for a doctor for any cosmetic procedure, think about what you expect from treatment.
Ask yourself some questions:
Do you feel confident in being able to explain to your doctor exactly what you don’t like about your appearance and how you would like it to be altered?
- Remember that the doctor needs to understand what you see when you look in the mirror and be able to assess your body image and determine if surgery is worthwhile.
Is your request realistic and achievable? How quickly are you expecting a result?
- Patients with unrealistic expectations will never be satisfied with the results of surgery because there are surgical factors, limitations, complications and risks that influence outcomes. You may desire a certain ‘look’ but since facial structures and tissue composition varies from person to person, the shape of the nose you are choosing may not be appropriate to your face.
The best way to look at it is to expect improvement, not perfection. If you are excessively concerned about minor irregularities or imperfections, you will most likely be disappointed.
Discuss the options with your surgeon, and do not proceed until you are certain both you and your surgeon are on the same page about expectations and results that can be safely achieved.
Besides physical improvement, some patients can hold expectations that surgery can create significant life changes like a new job or relationship. While it is important to be positive about the result, it is also essential to be realistic and realise that while rhinoplasty can be extremely beneficial to well-being, any changes in your personal life all boil down to actions taken by you. Cosmetic procedures can’t change people’s personalities but can only change the way they deal with and see a problem, so it might help reframe what you think is the problem.
Just be mindful, if your expectation of the results can’t be met, disappointment can lead to a long expensive and emotional journey, chasing treatment without ever achieving what you think you wanted. This can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health, finances and quality of life.
It may be helpful if you discuss your thoughts, feelings and attitudes with a close friend, family member or counsellor who may be able to offer a more objective opinion.
Be Wary of Social Media
Social media and the ‘selfie’ have changed the game in cosmetic surgery in recent years.
Doctors say patients used to bring in magazine pictures of celebs who they wanted to look like but now bring in phone selfies with heavily filtered pictures of themselves to point out what they don\’t like about their appearance and show how they would like to look.
Edited photos can possibly be helpful in understanding the goals of the patient and their expectations, but extreme filters and apps are obviously very separate methods of altering appearance that actually make the doctor’s job much harder as the patient may believe that surgical change they see on their selfie is possible and achievable when in many cases it may not be.
A big concern is that patients are taking more photos of themselves than ever before, and as a result are far more self-conscious about their appearance. Slight flaws that would previously have been ignored are now worrying them and distorting reality. The lines of fantasy and reality are being blurred and perception of beauty is being altered so much that what is considered normal appearance can disappear.
If you are concerned about the way you look or are thinking about cosmetic treatments to boost your self-confidence, you may feel better first talking to a counsellor or psychologist to help you understand what’s behind your appearance concerns. Undergoing cosmetic procedures means you are making important decisions about changing the way you look. Some changes are permanent so it is important before you have anything done that you know you are making the right decision at the right time in your life.
Key Points of Consideration Before Going For Cosmetic Surgery
Cosmetic surgery may seem like an attractive option if you want to change your appearance. Often, the desire for any cosmetic treatment isn’t about beauty or vanity or even about how you look – it is about your body image, or how you feel about your appearance and what you believe other people see when they look at you. We therefore assume that people wanting to undergo cosmetic intervention want to look and feel better about themselves and improve their quality of life.
Before you start looking for a doctor for any cosmetic procedure, think about what you expect from treatment. People choose to have cosmetic surgery for all sorts of reasons and understanding why you want cosmetic surgery and what you expect from it will be very important to your overall satisfaction.
Do you feel confident in being able to explain to your doctor exactly what you don’t like about your appearance and how you would like it to be altered? Remember that the doctor needs to understand what you see when you look in the mirror and be able to assess your body image and determine if surgery is worthwhile.
Experienced cosmetic surgeons say the people most suitable for cosmetic procedures are people who are self-conscious about a particular part of their body and want it changed. They have no ‘hidden agendas’. They like the rest of their body and have good self-esteem and feel that fixing this one problem area will complete the picture for them. After their surgery, they are able to carry on with their normal life.
On the other hand, if a person blames their unhappiness or life problems on the shape of their nose or the size of their breasts, they will be disappointed if life doesn’t take a dramatic shift for the better after surgery. People who have a ‘hidden agenda’ may not be satisfied with the outcome of their cosmetic surgery even if the surgery is technically perfect.
If you are under 18, your parents should support your request for surgery and agree to you undergoing the procedure. Before undergoing any procedure you will need to be assessed by a mental health professional to identify any underlying psychological problems which may make surgery an unsuitable option at that time.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Most of us spend only a few minutes each day thinking about our appearance, but there is a condition where the sufferer may spend hours worrying about how he or she looks. They are so obsessed with a perceived flaw in their appearance and find it hard to stop thinking about it so much that it impacts on their daily lives.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is defined as a pre‐occupation with an imagined or very slight defect in physical appearance which causes significant distress. It might be because of a minor blemish or defect but the sufferer truly believes it is very obvious and very severe so much so that they are obsessed by it and try to hide it by covering up with hats, clothing or sunglasses or avoiding social situations because they feel ugly and don’t want to be seen.
Many sufferers believe they are truly ugly, feel ashamed and fear being rejected by others. Sufferers are constantly checking their appearance in the mirror to see how noticeable their defect is or spend hours grooming, changing make–up, hairstyles or trying to camouflage what they see as the problem. Many sufferers can’t be talked out of their beliefs and continually seek reassurance from family members and friends. They believe that cosmetic surgery to change their appearance is the only way out of their problem and will approach cosmetic surgeons or dermatologists seeking surgery or medical treatments.
In these cases, any cosmetic treatment is strongly advised against and they should instead be seen by a mental health professional. This is a serious psychiatric disorder and can go unrecognised or misdiagnosed if it is not screened properly.
If you are very concerned about an aspect of your appearance and are thinking about cosmetic treatments to boost your confidence and feelings of well-being it might be first very worthwhile to talk to a counsellor or psychologist who may help you by discussing your appearance concerns and how they impact on your life.
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About Dr Rodrigo Teixeira
Dr Rodrigo Teixeira, MD, FRACS is a Plastic Surgeon in Melbourne. He has significant experience in Cosmetic Surgery, Rhinoplasty and Facial Surgery. Dr Teixeira is a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS). Internationally, he is a member of the American and the International Societies.