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].

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More Great Links


  • American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. "Quick Facts." (January 24, 2012)
  • American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. "Survey shows that more than half of Americans approve of cosmetic surgery." April 4, 2011. (January 27, 2012).
  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "After Your Surgery." (January 27, 2012).
  • Castle, David J., et al. "Does cosmetic surgery improve psychosocial wellbeing?" Medical Journal of Australia. Volume 176. Issue 12. Pp: 601-604. June 17, 2002.
  • Ellin, Abby. "The Golden Years, Polished with Surgery." The New York Times. August 8, 2011. (January 24, 2012).
  • FDA. "Breast Implants: Risks of Breast Implants." (January 27, 2012).
  • Freedland, Kenneth E., et al. "Treatment of depression after coronary artery bypass surgery." Archives of General Psychiatry. Volume 66. Issue 4. April 2009.
  • Honigman, Robert J., et al. "A Review of Psychosocial Outcomes for Patients Seeking Cosmetic Surgery." Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Volume 113, No. 4. 1229-1237. April 2004.
  • Lipworth, Loren, et al. "Excess Mortality from Suicide and Other External Causes of Death Among Women with Cosmetic Breast Implants." Annals of Plastic Surgery. Volume 59. No. 2. Pp. 119-123. August 2007. m/annalsplasticsurgery/Abstract/2007/08000/Excess_Mortality_From_Suicide_and_Other_External.1.aspx.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. "Cosmetic surgery: What to know beforehand." Mayo Clinic. (January 27, 2012).
  • Meningaud, John-Paul, et al. "Depression, anxiety and quality of life among scheduled cosmetic surgery patients: multicentre prospective study." Journal of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery. Volume 9. No. 3. Pp: 177-180. June 2001.
  • Naish, John. "When Looks Can Kill." Mail Online. January 25, 2011 (January 24, 2012).
  • "Post-operative Depression." Prime. September 3, 2007. (January 27, 2012).
  • Sansone, Randy A. and Lori A. Sansone. "Cosmetic Surgery and Psychological Issues." Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience. December 2007 (January 24, 2012).
  • Sarwer, David B., et al. "A prospective, multi-site investigation of patient satisfaction and psychosocial status following cosmetic surgery." Aesthetic Surgery Journal. Volume 25. Issue 3. Pp: 263-269. May 2005.