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Answers to Your Questions about Cosmetic Surgery

If you are thinking about cosmetic surgery, how do you know if you are an appropriate candidate? Consider these important questions:

Do I have specific concerns abut my appearance?

Cosmetic surgery is best designed for people who are looking for relatively modest changes in their appearance. The features you want to change also should be readily apparent to you, your surgeon and others.

For example - You, your surgeon and your family can see the “bump” on your nose. If others say they have trouble seeing the bump, you may be a less good candidate for surgery. Individuals who are expecting an extreme "Cinderella" transformation may not be good candidates for surgery.

What are my motivations for surgery?

Individuals who are internally motivated to improve their body image and self-esteem are often the best candidates for cosmetic surgery.

For example - If you are motivated to please yourself with modest changes in your appearance, you probably are a good candidate for surgery. If you are motivated to have a procedure done to please someone else or to make unrelated changes in your life (a new job, a new relationship), you are likely not a good candidate.

What are my expectations for postoperative results?

Cosmetic surgery frequently leads to modest changes in appearance that may or may not be noticeable to other people. As a result, patients should temper their expectations accordingly.

For example - Patients looking to feel better about themselves are better candidates for surgery than patients who expect surgery to help them get a better job or save a marriage.

I constantly think about my appearance. Could I have body dysmorphic disorder?

Are you extremely unhappy with your appearance? Some people who are very dissatisfied with their appearance feel cosmetic surgery will help make them feel better. This may be what psychologists call body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). It is a preoccupation with a slight or imaginary defect in appearance. This leads to significant disruption in day-to-day function.

Characteristic features of BDD include:

  • preoccupation with slight or nonexistent flaws in physical features.
  • constant thinking about one's appearance.
  • engaging in behaviors to hide or camouflage the features
  • avoiding daily activities to hide the feature.

If you suffer from these symptoms, one of our mental health professionals at The Center for Human Appearance can help.


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Need an appointment? Request one online 24 hours/day, 7 days/week or call 800-789-PENN (7366) to speak to a referral counselor.

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