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The Rollercoaster - Common Feelings and Emotions After Cosmetic Surgery

Updated: Jan 3

Knowing about your emotions after surgery can decrease the risk of psychological issues as well as complications of your desired procedure.

What will You Feel after Cosmetic Surgery?

The decision to alter your physical appearance through cosmetic surgery is extremely personal and is associated with a broad range of emotions not only during the process but also after the completion of your desired procedure. Just as you prepare yourself for the downtime of the surgery, you should also understand what to expect emotionally during your recovery period. Depending on the type and extent of the procedure as well as your aesthetic goals, it can take several months to about a year to achieve a full recovery and to see the final results – and it is just normal for you to feel a mix of emotions.

What are the Common Emotions after Cosmetic Surgery?

After your cosmetic surgery, you’ll probably experience the following:

  • Having sleeping difficulties which increase your tendency to become more sensitive

  • Being more sensitive to the opinions of friends, family, and other people regarding your surgery choices

  • Wondering what your body will look like once bruising, swelling, and redness are completely gone

  • Being confused about what is normal to experience during your recovery process

  • Worrying about your surgical scars and wondering about options to take in order to reduce its appearance

  • Searching the internet for normal and abnormal findings during the recovery process as well as other people’s surgical experiences

  • Experiencing low energy levels

  • Missing your activities of daily living and other routine activities that you have put on hold as you recover

  • Having second thoughts on your decision to undergo a surgical procedure

  • Undergoing depression due to poor cosmetic results

What is Post-Cosmetic Surgery Depression?

If a certain part of your body is affecting your self-confidence, and you decided to improve its appearance through cosmetic surgery, it is normal for you to feel happy and contented about it. However, this is not always the case as some people may experience sadness and depression following their desired cosmetic surgery. This is called post-cosmetic surgery depression or post-plastic surgery depression and is associated with several factors such as anesthesia and pain medications, lack of support from family and friends, disappointment over the clinical outcome, and other personal issues.

Post-cosmetic surgery depression involves low mood and other symptoms such as the following:

  • Anxiety

  • Difficulty making decisions

  • Eating difficulties

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Feelings of hopelessness and sadness with no specific cause

  • Guilt

  • Irritability and restlessness

  • Loss of interest

  • Memory problems

  • Sleeping difficulties

  • Slow movements

  • Stress

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Thoughts of harming others

Are there other Emotional Issues that arise after Cosmetic Surgery?

Several lines of evidence suggest that emotional issues and other psychological disorders may arise after cosmetic surgery.

In a study conducted in over 3500 Swedish women who had undergone cosmetic breast augmentation surgery, researchers reported an increased risk of suicide. [1]

In another study, researchers found a 7% prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder (a mental disorder characterized by the belief that one or more defects or flaws are present in your body) among cosmetic surgery patients.[2]

What are the Self-Help Strategies to Combat Emotional Issues after a Cosmetic Surgery?

To improve your mood and overall quality of life following cosmetic surgery, the following self-help strategies can help:

  • Make sure you have a strong support system at home: Whether it’s your family or friends, they can provide you with all the help you need during your recovery. Talking to them allows you to verbalize your feelings, prevent emotional build-up, and achieve comfort.

  • Plan your recovery: After your cosmetic surgery, you should have a list of what to do to keep yourself occupied and prevent thinking about the recovery process. This includes movies to watch, books to read, and other light activities recommended by your surgeon.

  • Adhere to postoperative instructions: Make sure to adhere to your medication regimen and avoid vigorous activities that can put stress on your surgical incision line which can lead to a poor cosmetic result. In addition, follow proper wound cleaning techniques to lower your risk of infection and other complications.

  • Rest as much as you can: The recovery period is not the time for you to resume your activities at home. Whether it’s as simple as caring for your kids or washing the dishes, you need to rest for a few days to allow your body to heal. Your surgeon will let you know the time when you can get back to your daily routine.

  • Be patient with your recovery period: It is important to keep in mind that your recovery period may vary from other patients because this will depend on several factors such as your body anatomy, type of surgery, and desired cosmetic goals. To reduce your anxiety, don’t make judgments on the clinical outcome while you still have bruises, swelling, redness, pain, and stitches.

  • Consult with your doctor regularly: When recovering at home, you can communicate with your doctor instead of searching the internet for possible solutions or strategies to accelerate your healing process. In case of bleeding, increasing pain, pus on the surgical wound, and untoward signs and symptoms, consult with your doctor immediately for further evaluation and medical management.

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