Cosmetic surgery: What to know beforehand

Cosmetic surgery can help improve your appearance, but it's not for everyone. Know what to consider before surgery, how to find a surgeon and what questions to ask.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Cosmetic surgery, a branch of plastic surgery that includes surgical and nonsurgical procedures, might seem like an easy way to shave years off your appearance or improve your physique. If you're not satisfied with your appearance, cosmetic surgery might help you look and feel better.

Cosmetic surgery, however, has risks and limitations. If you're considering cosmetic surgery, here's what you need to know.

Factors to consider

Cosmetic surgery changes your appearance by altering or reshaping parts of your body that function normally but don't look the way you want. Before you proceed with cosmetic surgery, consider:

  • Your expectations. Anticipate improvement, not perfection. If you expect cosmetic surgery to turn you into a movie star, you're bound to be disappointed. Don't count on surgery to save a rocky relationship, gain a promotion or improve your social life.
  • Expense. Cosmetic surgery isn't covered by most health insurance plans. The cost varies depending on the procedure, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Also, consider the cost of any follow-up care or additional corrective procedures.
  • Risks. Dissatisfaction is possible after any type of cosmetic surgery. Surgical complications are possible, too — including excessive bleeding or infection at the surgical site.
  • Recovery. After cosmetic surgery, you might need days, weeks or even months to recover. Understand the physical effects that might be part of your recovery, as well as how the surgery might affect aspects of your personal and professional life.

Also, if you smoke, your doctor will likely recommend that you stop smoking about one month before surgery and during recovery to minimize the risk of complications.

Feb. 24, 2016 See more In-depth