10 things to consider before getting plastic surgery

Recent Ditch the Label revealed that 1 in 2 of us want to change how we look, with people as young as 13 now considering things like plastic surgery, botox and liposuction in order to feel good about themselves.

Given the ever-rising rate of young people seeking to alter their appearance with invasive cosmetic surgery, we have compiled 10 things to seriously take into consideration before making that decision.

1. Surgeons cannot fix how you feel on the inside.
In order to manage expectations of how you will feel post-procedure, it is important to be realistic about the outcome of you undergoing cosmetic surgery; remember that surgeons deal solely with the physical aspects of your appearance – unfortunately there is no quick fix for low self-esteem or more serious issues such as body dysmorphia.

If you lack confidence, have low self-esteem or think you might be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, it is very unlikely that undergoing cosmetic surgery and changing your physical appearance will improve how you feel on the inside.

Low self-esteem can have harmful effects on your mental health, your decisions about your appearance and ultimately your future. We advise taking some time to work on the way you see yourself – maybe even see a therapist to work through any unresolved issues you might have about your appearance before turning to something as permanent as surgery. You can access a support guide on how to combat low self-esteem here.

Realise that no two people look the same. Some people have prominent birthmarks, some people have freckles, some have black hair, some are tall, broad, skinny – the list is endless! That’s okay. Try not to base your idea of beauty on other people – set your own standards. Acknowledge the things you like about yourself and focus in on them. Even if you struggle with this process at first, as you become more comfortable in your own skin, this list will grow and your self-esteem will improve.

“1 in 2 of us want to change how we look, with people as young as 13 now considering things like plastic surgery, botox and liposuction in order to feel good about themselves”

2. Seek advice from your local GP.
It is vital you seek advice from a medical professional such as your local GP before you book a consultation with a surgeon. If you have decided that you definitely want to undergo cosmetic surgery despite the risks involved, ask your GP to give you a personal recommendation. Make sure you book your consultation with a reputable and well-known clinic. Be extremely thorough, do your homework and check out the potential surgeon here. They are a reputable regulatory body for the medical industry, who perform annual checks on all clinics and every individual who practises.

3. Don’t buy into bargain surgery.
It is easy to be swayed by enticingly cheap prices, especially if you feel like you want the procedure done yesterday. But if the price sounds too good to be true, then it most probably is. The cost of falling for ‘bargain surgery’ could be much more than just financial; it will be your body that permanently pays the price.
Be aware that surgeons work to commission and so it is likely that other treatments and procedures will be suggested to you along the way. Avoid making any spontaneous decisions and don’t feel pressured to commit to anything you don’t want. If you do feel pressured at any point, we would advise looking for another clinic and surgeon, where you feel comfortable and able to express your opinions and concerns.

4. Get at least 2 consultations.
It is crucial not to rush a decision of this magnitude. Remember that by undergoing cosmetic surgery you will be irrevocably altering your appearance.

A very important part of the process is going for consultations. Try two different clinics at the very least and make sure you take a family member, guardian, or trusted friend with you to ask questions in case you forget any key ones. It can be overwhelming hearing a lot of information in a very short space of time, so make sure you take notes as well.
We advise looking on the General Medical Council website. They have a wealth of information and you can look up surgeons to make sure that all of their qualifications are up-to-date. These are checked every five years by the GMC.

5. If in doubt, don’t.
If you are having even a shred of doubt about your chosen surgeon the worst thing you can do is ignore those feelings. As a rule of thumb when in doubt, don’t. Be patient with the process and wait until you find the right surgeon to perform the procedure. Research, research, research. You only have one body and it is deserving of a trustworthy and reputable surgeon.

“Try not to base your idea of beauty on other people – set your own standards”

6. Know the risks.
As the cosmetic industry still remains largely unregulated even the most sensible individual can fall prey to unexpected issues and problems with their chosen procedure. Do you know the risks associated with the procedure you are considering? If not, we highly recommend you find them out.

7. Realise that the results won’t be immediate.
Your body will need time to heal after the procedure. This is not a process that can be rushed, so be patient with yourself and listen to the experts on how you can aid your body through the recovery before you start judging the immediate results.

8. What are you hoping to gain?
Be honest with yourself – only you know what you are hoping to gain from altering your appearance. Talk it all through with someone you trust and whose opinion you respect. Take the time to really understand what you want from the procedure and why. Analyse whether undergoing cosmetic surgery is really the answer/solution and the best possible decision you can make for yourself and your life going forward.

9. Know exactly what the procedure entails.
Medical jargon can be intimidating and is often hard to understand so don’t be embarrassed to ask what exactly is being done to you. Make sure you are also 100% aware of the risks involved – there are no stupid questions; it is your body that is being altered and your money that is being spent. Don’t be afraid to speak up and remember you are in control of the situation.

“Analyse whether undergoing cosmetic surgery is really the answer/solution and the best possible decision you can make for yourself and your life going forward”

10. Have no shame.
If you have decided that undergoing cosmetic surgery is absolutely the thing you want to do, even after you have taken into consideration all of the risks and above points, then feel no shame in going ahead with it. If you feel that people are judging you/will judge you because of this choice, remember that your happiness takes precedent over their opinion. Nobody should tell you whether or not to have surgery – what you do with your body is your choice.

However, choosing to have a cosmetic procedure is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Make sure you fully understand your options, what’s motivating you to get the surgery and what the risks are. Many people have positive experiences of plastic surgery; they say it’s helped build their confidence or given them the freedom to express themselves. Cosmetic procedures may be a reassuring solution for people who’ve experienced physical disfigurement through illness, for example, or for people who are experiencing a lot of discomfort (like women who choose to get a breast reduction to eliminate the back pain that having particularly large breasts may cause them).

Nevertheless, society and the media puts a huge amount of pressure on people to look a certain way which can leave us feeling like we are lacking. Perhaps it’s this that’s the real problem – not the way you look. Don’t let society or anyone else dictate what you look like. Everyone is different, so concentrate on embracing your individuality and loving yourself.

Ultimately this is your body and you have the right to do what is best for you – just be sure that you are fully informed and in safe hands.