What you can expect

The most important factor in deciding whether to have cosmetic surgery is to have a clear understanding of what will happen before, during and after the procedure, and what results to expect. Many physical characteristics can be successfully changed, while others cannot. The more realistic your expectations, the more likely you will be satisfied with the results.

Before the procedure

During the first meeting, your surgeon will explain how cosmetic surgery can change the body and what you can expect as a result. This is an opportunity for you to explain what you hope to achieve with surgery. Understanding the options and possible outcomes will help you make the best decision.

You will be informed about specific procedures, what to expect, the benefits, risks and possible complications, as well as other alternatives. The physician may recommend additional procedures to enhance the overall result.

The concept of asymmetry will be explained. The human body is asymmetric, meaning one side of the body looks naturally different from the other. Consider the image reflected in the mirror — a photographic image is a true image, the opposite of the mirror image. The surgeon helps patients understand this so they can fully appreciate their true appearance and how this may change with cosmetic surgery.

The surgeon also will explain the concept of balance — how changing one part of the body may affect overall appearance and how additional surgical procedures may bring greater balance.

Nurse review

You will also meet with a nurse, who reviews general questions about health, current medications — including aspirin, vitamin E, over-the-counter medications and supplements — and lifestyle issues, such as smoking history.

The nurse will also review what you can expect following surgery, including pain, medications, diet, activity and work restrictions, and details such as the need to arrange for a ride home following the procedure.

By listening and following instructions from the surgeon and health care team, you can minimize the risks and complications of surgery.

Consent form

You will be asked to sign a consent form so that photographs may be taken before and after surgery. Photographs serve as a reference for the surgeon during the procedure and become a part of your medical record.

Estimate of costs

You will be asked to visit the business office to get a written estimate of surgical fees. Insurance typically does not cover cosmetic surgery procedures. Payment is generally required prior to surgery.

Preoperative examination

You may be scheduled for a pre-operative examination to assess general health prior to surgery.

During the procedure

Cosmetic surgery procedures requiring general anesthesia or IV (intravenous) sedation are performed in the hospital under the care of an anesthesiologist/nurse anesthetist team. Others procedures, such as injections of facial fillers, may be performed in an outpatient setting or physician's office under local anesthesia. Prior to surgery, you will see the surgeon (or a member of your health care team) one more time to answer any remaining questions.

After the procedure

Prior to outpatient surgery or before discharge from the hospital, you will receive:

  • Instructions for post-surgical care specific to your procedure
  • Medication instructions and prescriptions (for example, for pain medications and antibiotics)
  • Phone numbers to call for questions