Health and Lifestyle for the over 50s
The Best of Guide to Cosmetic Surgery

Why Cosmetic Surgery

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There are many different reasons why people choose to have cosmetic surgery. For some, it might be to change a part of themselves that they’ve always felt self-conscious about, such as a large nose or protruding ears. For others, it might be a desire to bring their figure back to the way it once was; for example, tightening a ‘mummy tummy’ or lifting the breasts.

There are also people who may have suffered a health condition that has left them feeling embarrassed about their bodies; such as men who suffer from gynecomastia and who want to get rid of the appearance of ‘breasts’.

The difference between Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery
The difference between Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery
There’s a lot of confusion about the differences between the two types of surgery. In simplest terms, reconstructive surgery aims to correct a part of the body for medical reasons, whereas cosmetic surgery simply aims to improve appearances on an aesthetic level.

For example, if you want to have your ears pinned, this is actually recognised as reconstructive surgery, as the treatment focuses on reconstructing the body to treat a congenital condition (present from birth).

If you’ve been involved in an accident and burned your hand, you may want surgery to improve the appearance of the skin in the affected area. Again, this would be reconstructive, not cosmetic; though in this case the condition would be acquired, not congenital (because it was gained in later life, rather than present from birth.)

Cosmetic surgery, by contrast, refers to all treatments that are purely offered to help enhance physical appearance. For example, if you’re currently a ‘B’ cup but are keen to increase the size of your breasts to a ‘D’, this would be cosmetic, as there’s no medical reason for you to do so. In the eyes of the medical profession, your breasts are not adversely impacting on your health, therefore your decision to seek surgery is purely cosmetic.

One of the key differences between the two is that reconstructive surgery is far more likely to be available on the NHS.

The Importance of Psychological Assessment
The Importance of Psychological Assessment
As many people in the past have proved, cosmetic surgery can be addictive. Once you’ve changed one part of your appearance, it’s only too easy to start focusing in on other areas that could be improved with a surgical ‘tweak’ or two.

Alternatively, this may be your first cosmetic surgery procedure. Whilst many ‘first-timers’ are sensible in their expectations, many others have unrealistic ideas of what the surgery will achieve. They may believe that the procedure will completely change their lives, turning them into more confident, happier people. For many, surgery can produce great results, but it should never be relied upon to create happiness.

Fortunately, many of the top cosmetic clinics in the UK now ask their patients to undertake a simple psychological assessment before any surgery takes place, to ensure that they’re a suitable candidate, both physically and mentally. Nigel Mercer, a consultant plastic surgeon and member of BAAPS, comments: ‘It’s important we are aware of those patients who are vulnerable and that they are appropriately counselled. They need to be fully aware of what they’re letting themselves in for if they go for surgery.’

Why Do You Want Surgery?
Why Do You Want Surgery?

It’s important, when considering surgery, to ask yourself why you want it. Try to be as honest with yourself as possible. Here are some key questions you should think about:

  1. Have you felt this desire for a long time?
  2. Do you really need it? Are there any alternatives?
  3. Has someone made you feel that you need it, or does the wish to have surgery come from you, and you alone?
  4. What do your friends and family think? Do they agree that you’ll look better afterwards, or are they confused as to why you want it?
  5. Are you realistic about the outcomes?

Cosmetic and reconstructive surgery are not to be taken lightly. All treatments are serious medical procedures and once undertaken, can be difficult to reverse. As a result, it’s important to make sure that you’re confident you’re making the right choice before you book the operation.

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