Dealing with the adjustment period after cosmetic surgery

A cosmetic surgery procedure can be a life-enhancing event that transforms a feature of the face or body that has long been a source of distress, embarrassment or even discomfort. The vast majority of patients are aware of what their results will be and are happy and satisfied with the operation’s outcome, but this doesn’t mean that there is not a significant adjustment period after the procedure and I always do my best to ensure my Warwickshire cosmetic surgery patients know what to expect.

Post-op blues

cosmetic surgery bluesThis is a very common stage after surgery and I always warn patients to expect it. The build-up to the day of surgery is characterised by extreme emotions of excitement and apprehension. Then the operation itself can be very physically challenging, particularly body rejuvenation surgery such as a tummy tuck or liposuction, and the patient will also be experiencing the effects of anaesthetic and taking pain-relieving medication.

‘Post-op blues’ tend to set in a few days after surgery, but for most people this is temporary and your mood should start to lift as you become more mobile and any discomfort starts to lessen. I liken it to the effect of lobbing a brick into a pond: the ripples take some time to settle and for calm to be restored.

Judging results

Another aspect of the adjustment period is seeing your new face or body for the first time in the mirror. It is essential not to judge your results too quickly as swelling and bruising will take some time to fully subside. In fact, I warn my Leamington rhinoplasty patients that the full and final result will not be evident until a year or more after their procedure, lower eyelid surgery (lower blepharoplasty) being another procedure that requires patience for things to settle and for the full result to emerge.

Adjusting to your new look

Even very minor changes, particularly those made during facial rejuvenation surgery such as an eyelid lift or brow lift, can have a dramatic effect and it can take some time to fully adjust to your new look. This can be very common following a rhinoplasty procedure, as the nose is the dominant feature of the face. Inwardly, these small changes can make a big difference too, boosting self-confidence and promoting a positive self-image.

Realistic expectations

This is key to a happy, satisfied patient as unrealistic expectations will always lead to disappointment, however ‘successful’ the procedure was in the eyes of the surgeon, friends and family. The importance of the consultation process cannot be underestimated as this is my opportunity to clearly understand the patient’s desires and expectations and whether cosmetic surgery can realistically fulfill them.

If you’re considering a cosmetic surgery procedure, be honest with yourself about why you want surgery and what you are expecting. Then arrange a consultation at my Leamington cosmetic surgery clinic and we can discuss what you are hoping to achieve.

Who should be performing your surgery? New study finds ‘jargon’ can cause confusion

cosmetic surgeon vs plastic surgeonDo you know the difference between a plastic surgeon, a cosmetic surgeon or an aesthetic surgeon? Who should you choose to perform your facelift or breast augmentation? According to a new report published in this month’s Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, the journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), many patients planning a cosmetic surgery procedure aren’t sure who should be wielding the scalpel.

Based on a survey of over 5,100 men and women, the survey worryingly found that 87% of respondents believed that they were ‘protected’ because in order to advertise and perform an aesthetic surgical procedure you were required to have undergone specialist training or have received specific qualifications.

However, in both America and the UK, there has been no limit on surgeons from all specialties from performing cosmetic surgery procedures or on practitioners from any field of medicine from offering treatments that may be described as ‘minimally invasive’ yet which can have significant repercussions for the patient if they go wrong.

The difference between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon

The Royal College of Surgeons lists ten different surgical specialties, which include cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery, orthopaedic surgery, vascular surgery and plastic surgery. Amongst a wide range of clinical problems, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons treat patients who have had their appearance altered by trauma, injury or disease. Plastic surgery is partly functional but also aimed at improving the physical appearance.

After completing medical school, foundation training and general surgical rotation, the prospective Plastic Surgeon has to undergo a minimum of six years’ rigorous and monitored training in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery before being placed on the General Medical Council (GMC) specialist register and only then being eligible for consultant posts in the NHS.

Cosmetic surgery, as an elective procedure to enhance or improve a feature of the face or body, is not one of the surgical specialties defined by the Royal College of Surgeons and there have been no common standards for surgeons to adhere to. In fact, even a medical practitioner who has no surgical training can call him/herself a cosmetic surgeon and perform challenging and complex operations, a most unsatisfactory situation.

The RCS is now looking to address this. Last month it opened its new certification scheme that invites anyone performing cosmetic surgery to apply for. Surgeons have to provide evidence of their training, skills, knowledge and experience in the procedures they perform.

Mr Stephen Cannon, Chair of the Cosmetic Surgery Interspecialty Committee (CSIC) and Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons, stated that “the law currently allows any doctor – surgeon or otherwise – to perform cosmetic surgery in the private sector. The RCS believes this certification system will help patients to find a certified surgeon, who has the appropriate training and experience to carry out a procedure such as a tummy tuck or nose job.”

Medical marketing is another area that has come to the attention of the powers that be and there is a drive towards increasing patient education to improve patient safety. Last October, the Royal College of Surgeons also launched a new online information resource for patients to counter what they described as the ‘aggressive marketing campaigns’ of some cosmetic surgery providers.

The Royal College of Surgeons aims to have its register online by the end of the year, but in the meantime it is possible to check your surgeon’s credentials on the GMC’s List of Registered Medical Practitioners. This will indicate whether they are on the specialist register for plastic surgeons.