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Getting Used to a New You (How to Emotionally Recover from Cosmetic Surgery)

Combating Sadness after Surgery

No one can guarantee that you'll be thrilled with the results of your plastic surgery, but there are steps you can take to get the best possible results--both physically, and emotionally.

Before your surgery, make sure you do the following:

  • Choose the best possible plastic surgeon -- someone who specializes in the procedure you want -- so you're more likely to have your desired outcome. Find a surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Ask how many of these surgeries the doctor has performed. More is always better.
  • It's important to have realistic expectations about your plastic surgery. Talk to your doctor before your surgery. Ask how much pain and discomfort to expect, how long it will take you to recover, what you'll look like during the recovery process, and what the final result should be. That way you won't have any unpleasant surprises.

After your surgery:

  • Talk to your surgeon after your procedure, too. Find out how to deal with the physical and emotional side effects of your surgery, and ask when and who to call if you have any problems you can't handle at home.
  • You can expect to feel tired and sore for a few days after your surgery. Don't try to jump out of bed and get back to your normal life right away. You need the downtime to recover.
  • Plan to have someone there to support you during the recovery process. Just having someone caring to talk to can ease your worries and sadness.

Remember that plastic surgery can only change your exterior -- it can't cure the self-esteem problems and depression inside. If your sadness goes on day after day, get help. Talk to a psychologist or counselor about getting treatment for your depression. Studies on heart surgery patients with post-surgical depression have found that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help. During this treatment, a therapist helps you understand the problems that are causing your depression, and then works with you to help overcome those problems [source: Archives of General Psychiatry].