All surgeries, including cosmetic procedures, carry risk. Those with a history of cardiovascular disease, lung disease, diabetes or obesity have a higher risk of developing complications such as pneumonia, stroke, heart attack or blood clots in the legs or lungs. Smoking also increases risks and interferes with healing.
A meeting with the surgeon will include a discussion of these risks and others related to the patient's health history.
Possible complications for any surgical procedure include:
- Complications related to anesthesia, including pneumonia, blood clots and, rarely, death
- Infection at the incision site, which may worsen scarring and require additional surgery
- Fluid build up under the skin
- Mild bleeding, which may require another surgical procedure, or bleeding significant enough to require a transfusion
- Obvious scarring or skin breakdown, which occurs when healing skin separates from healthy skin and must be removed surgically
- Numbness and tingling from nerve damage, which may be permanent
Questions for the patient to consider before pursuing cosmetic surgery:
- What are my motives for wanting to change how I look?
- What are the specific attributes of my appearance that I want to change?
- Do I have realistic expectations about the results of the surgery?
- What aspects of my life will be affected such as family, work, travel and social obligations?
- What time in my life will work best so that I have the greatest chance for a successful recovery?
- Have I talked about my concerns and questions openly with my health care provider?
Questions to ask the cosmetic surgeon:
It is a good idea to bring a notepad to write down answers.
- What are your qualifications?
- How long have you been board-certified?
- How many procedures have you done similar to the one I'm considering?
- What other health care professionals are involved in my care?
- What side effects can I expect?
- What results can I expect?
- What are the possible complications of the cosmetic surgery I am considering?
- What kind of help will I need at home following surgery?
- How long before I see the final results of my surgery?
- How long before I can go back to work and/or resume exercise?
- Are there complications unique to my health history?
- Will I have any scars and if yes, what will they look like?
- If my procedure requires stitches, when will they be removed?
- How much does the procedure cost?
Questions to ask about a procedure:
- What does the procedure do? What does it not do?
- What are the risks and complications associated with this procedure?
- How long is the recovery period?
- Can I expect much discomfort?
- Will I have scars?
- Are there other procedures I should consider at the same time?
- Will I need a physical examination prior to surgery?
- How long will the results last?
- How much does it cost?
- Care is targeted to the individual needs of each patient.
- Realistic expectations are key — the goal is improvement, not perfection.
- Everyone is asymmetrical.
- Each patient has a different result.
- Patients will have at least two visits with the surgeon and/or another member of the health care team before surgery.
- It is essential that a patient be in good physical and mental health.
- Abstaining from all nicotine products and avoiding secondhand smoke for at least six weeks before and after surgery is crucial.
- Surgical scars are permanent.
- Bruising and swelling are temporary.
- Some surgeries require drains.
- Recovery times vary by person and procedure, but a minimum of 6 to 12 weeks is typical for many cosmetic surgeries.
- Insurance does not usually cover cosmetic procedures.
- Patients may need follow-up surgeries to achieve their goals.
- The wait between surgeries is generally at least four months.