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How Dangerous is Plastic Surgery?

For some people, the words “plastic surgery” strike fear into their hearts. Despite the fact that cosmetic surgery is a $1 billion dollar-per-year industry in the United States (according to Forbes), there are still a variety of reasons that patients might be afraid to “go under the knife.” Some of these reasons are founded in fact: Nothing is perfect, and that applies to surgery. Anne Wallace, chief of plastic surgery at the University of California, San Diego Health System notes that “patients may be surprised that changing one area of the body may alter others they hadn’t anticipated. In liposuction procedures, fat may be eliminated from the stomach or thighs, but will later redistribute to less flattering areas like the arms and upper back. Any time you tamper with the body’s balance, you risk creating new problem areas.” For some, the fear may be that their cosmetic appearance won’t be improved, but ruined.

Common fears include complications or disappointment in the final result. A few years ago, RealSelf asked 700 people who were seriously considering a cosmetic procedure what their fear was. The number one fear on the list is that they wouldn’t like their results: Over 30% of respondents said that they were most worried they’d wake up and not like what they’d see in the mirror. Other respondents were afraid of complications, or of something going seriously medically haywire while they were under anesthesia.

It’s certainly true that all surgeries carry risks. You’ll sign a waiver each time you commit to undergoing surgery. However, most of the possible complications are similar to those in just about any surgery. The only way to really understand these risks and the dangers associated with your surgery is by meeting with a plastic surgeon to discuss your options, just like you would with anything else. Some patients will be more at risk than others, due to histories of cardiovascular problems, smoking, lung disease, or obesity.

The key, though, is to understand what your fear of surgery is, and where it stems from, and how you can overcome it. Far too many people steer clear of surgical procedures, even if they want it desperately, simply because they’re afraid of a vague notion of “surgery,” without knowing much about it. In the information era, there’s no reason to not understand your fears.

How Can You Work Through Fear of Surgery?

If you’re afraid of surgery, it may very well be because you don’t know much about it. Beauty writer Carrie Shenigo explains that “Thankfully, that same accessibility to information that brings you terrifying tabloids and the very worst surgical horror stories also provides a great source for allaying fears: legitimate information. While a board-certified plastic surgeon is always your best source for educational information before, during and after a procedure, there are plenty of reliable online sources that offer up education, information and reviews.” Find as much information as you can, wherever you can. Look at before-and-after photos on your surgeon’s website, sit down with the surgeon (who will be happy to answer all of your questions), and ask friends and family who’ve undergone the same procedure.

The only way to really understand the risks you’re taking is to talk to your doctor, but choosing to be more informed, rather than less, can help allay fear significantly. And remember, if your primary fear is that you won’t like what you see in the mirror, remember that a key aspect of cosmetic surgery is being realistic about results. Your surgery won’t change your life dramatically, and you won’t wake up as a “new person” in the morning. If your expectations are realistic, there’s a much smaller chance that you’ll be disappointed with whatever your results turn out to be.

If You Can’t, What Are the Alternatives?

For some people, there just isn’t a way for them to overcome their fear of surgery: Maybe it’s too ingrained in their psyche, maybe they just don’t want to have surgery, and that’s okay. However, what they should know is that there are many cosmetic non-surgical options out there. Over the years, surgeons have perfected the art of non-surgical procedures that are safe, quick, and relatively painless to undergo.

For example, take Dr. Alexander Rivkin, one of the pioneers of the non-surgical nose job in the United States: “Dr. Rivkin has a strong belief and understanding in the power of modern medical technology and he dedicates his career to tailoring innovative treatments as alternative to invasive, painful surgery. The result of this dedication is a range of painless and affordable cosmetic techniques that patients can utilize without the negative feelings some of them associate with surgery.” The non-surgical nose job, for one, uses tissue fillers like Artefill or Radiesse to reshape the nose merely by injection. In addition to the benefits of escaping a session “under the knife,” the non-surgical nose job cost is far lower than the cost of traditional surgery: For Rivkin, a typical non-surgical nose job will cost around $500-$1,000, whereas a traditional surgery would be around $6,000 (depending on a variety of factors).

Whether you’re afraid of surgery for financial reasons or for psychological ones, there are more non-surgical alternatives (and not just nose jobs!) than ever before, available for you to try if you’d like to change your appearance. To learn more about these cosmetic procedures, leave a comment in the section below, anytime! We’d be happy to help direct you to a surgeon who can provide more information.

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