Cut and dried? 7 important questions to consider before you choose cosmetic surgery With the growing pressure of social media making us feel that our lives – and bodies – should be picture-perfect at a moment’s notice, it’s hardly surprising that over 28,000 cosmetic procedures were carried out in the UK in 2017. While, on the one hand, there’s a message that people should be empowered to change what they don’t like about themselves, these figures correspond worryingly to a 2016 study, conducted by Girlguiding UK, which indicated that are happy with their body (down from 73% in 2011). It begs the question of whether surgery is always an appropriate response to unhappiness with our appearance, or whether it’s worth taking a little more time to consider the process before going under the knife. If you’re contemplating a permanent physical change through a surgical procedure, at least consider these factors first. 1. What are your expectations? It’s normal for people to have an idea about what they want the results of their procedure to be – otherwise, why would they be going under the knife at all? It only becomes a concern if you have a very specific and fixed idea about what you expect (or “need”) to look like. For example, if you won’t be happy until you look exactly like your favourite Kardashian or action hero, you might need to rethink your expectations. Every human body is different, and each type of surgery has limitations; if you disregard what the most realistic results will be, you’ll probably be disappointed. 2. What are your motivations? There are lots of reasons that people choose to have surgery, some of them quite straightforward and some of them very complex. If you want surgery to change a physical feature that has bothered you for quite a while, finally being able to address the issue can feel empowering. However, if you feel that you’re at least partly caving to pressure from family, peers or social media, it might be worth speaking to a friend or counsellor to determine whether you could gain confidence through other methods. Hitting the gym or getting a new haircut may feel more worthwhile and satisfying long-term. 3. Is there an alternative solution? It may sound obvious, but the majority of cosmetic procedures are irreversible and, even the ones that can be altered after the fact will involve serious risks. If you’re even the slightest bit unsure about the complications or results of having surgery, there’s no harm in waiting until you feel more confident in your choice to have (or not have) the procedure. In the meantime, a bit of searching may help you find a way to achieve the look you want without going under the knife . For example, shapewear is available for men and women and can be worn under the clothes so it’s unnoticeable to everyone else. Subtle make-up or even temporary procedures like Botox or fillers, while not without their own risks, may be safer than invasive surgery. 4. Are you aware of the risks? Talking of risks, how well-versed are you on what could potentially go wrong with your surgery? After any procedure, you’re likely to experience pain, bleeding and infection, but understanding the risk of disfigurement, nerve damage and loss of sensation. If you have to come back for remedial work, it’s best to know beforehand what the potential effects on your body (and wallet) could be. 5. How confident are you with your surgeon? A key part of the process is choosing a surgeon you’re happy with. Talk to them about how often they have completed this type of surgery and look and ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos to get an idea of their work. Talk about success rates and how often clients come back for touch-ups once the initial results are apparent. It’s about the technique they use too, as there’s often more than one way to achieve a cosmetic change. Talk to different surgeons about how they will carry out the procedure; don’t just get caught up in what’s trendy. Talk about recovery, scarring and potential side-effects. For a more detailed look at how to choose a cosmetic surgeon in the UK, take a look at this article from the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. 6. Have you visited the facility? Your procedure will usually be performed in a clinic, where you may or may not be expected to stay for recovery. Have a look around the reception, consultant’s office and the room where you’ll wake up after surgery. If something doesn’t seem quite right, trust your gut. The office shouldn’t be crowded with people looking for a good deal, and nothing should feel cheap or overlooked. This team is going to be modifying the only body you’ve got! The NHS has some suggestions about the types of questions you should be asking . 7. Think carefully before you cut costs Cost is obviously a huge factor when it comes to picking where to have your surgery as, depending on what you’re planning to have done, there can be a difference in thousands of pounds. This is often down to the experience of the surgeon, the expected duration of your stay and the way the procedure itself is carried out. It’s always worth shopping around to find the most reasonable price, but it’s not all about getting it for cheap. Think carefully about the level of aftercare you want to receive, which type of facility you’ll feel most comfortable in and how much value your peace of mind before going into surgery. If spending a bit extra is what it takes to feel reassured that you’re getting the very best service, it’s absolutely worth it – it’s your body after all. About The Author Dakota Murphey enjoys sharing her experiences of living a healthy lifestyle through her blog posts. Working as a freelance writer for a multitude of different industries, when she's not writing or cooking up a storm in her kitchen she enjoys hiking and countryside walks with her family.