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The 5 Emotional Phases of Cosmetic Surgery & How to Manage Them

Posted on: August 2nd, 2018 by Shany Batbold

You’ve been wanting to go for this procedure for some time. You’ve done your homework. You’ve booked an appointment with a top expert at California Skin Institute. The before and after photos are getting you excited!

When you bring your actual appearance in closer line with your desired appearance, you can enjoy an undeniable boost socially and psychologically. According to a Psychology Today article, plastic surgery can deliver positive effects related to anxiety, social phobia, depression, life satisfaction and self-esteem, to name a few. However, it helps to know beforehand that going from your “before” to your ultimate “after” is likely to take you through five basic emotional phases — some of them challenging.

Not the Same for Everyone

“Normal” ranges widely from one plastic-surgery patient to the next. Your own emotional journey will be determined partly by the procedure and medications, but it will mainly depend on you. If you have realistic expectations, a positive attitude and healthy self-esteem, you could breeze through the emotional side of the healing process. However, most commonly patients will pass through these five phases, albeit with varying speed and intensity.

Phase 1 – Apprehensive

Pre-op, surgery day
You’re likely to feel some anxiety about going through with the procedure. You may have moments when you get cold feet. As the reality of surgery approaches and becomes more real, you may even experience waves of adrenaline.

Tips for How to Manage It
Remove as much uncertainty as possible in advance. Discuss your expectations with your doctor ahead of time and make sure they’ve reassured you that your goals are realistic and attainable. Also find out beforehand exactly what will happen on surgery day, step by step, and plan for it.

Keep reminding yourself why you want the procedure and how happy you’ll be with the result. Breathe deeply and relax. If possible, bring someone you trust to support you on surgery day.

Phase 2 – Down & Out of It

Right after the procedure
Fortunately, this phase usually lasts for only a short period. The effects of anesthesia, antibiotics and pain medications, along with possible lack of sleep due to discomfort, may all contribute to a depressed frame of mind. Plus, your body is exerting a great deal of energy to recover, which can make you feel drained.

Tips for How to Manage It
Remind yourself that mental and physical stress can negatively influence your mood, and so can meds. Enlist family or friends to support you through this stage. Relax, get plenty of sleep, and give your body the chance to repair itself. This is the worst of it, and it should be over quickly.*

Phase 3 – Moody & Worried

Beginning stages of healing – about 6 days to 3 weeks after surgery
Healing can be a messy, tiring business. Depending on your procedure, you may have scabs, bruising, swelling, and prominent incisions and stitches. All are normal, but all can look scary and cause undue worry. Seeing a different, battered-looking version of yourself may also spur you to become anxious about the final outcome. As the days go by, missing out on your usual activities, exercise and social contact may start to get to you.

Tips for How to Manage It
Remember that this is temporary. Be patient! Stay positive. Take advantage of the “me time”. Read some books, watch movies, play games. Catch up with friends and relatives. Write a letter. Have a trusted friend or family member over for a visit. Not only might it brighten your day, but they can remind you that this will pass — so stop worrying and start getting excited about the coming result!*

Phase 4 – Hypercritical

Continued healing and adjustment – roughly 3 weeks to 3 months after surgery
At this point, scars may still be quite conspicuous. There may be redness or other discoloration. Results may not have fully “gelled”. The treated area may look “off”, leading you to feel nostalgia for the way it was. You may question your decision to undergo the procedure.

Tips for How to Manage It
Though close to final, the procedure site is still healing and gradually advancing towards your goal. Give your body time to recover fully before passing judgement. Keep your mind on the future. Trust that your physician has done an excellent job. If you find yourself second-guessing your decision, look at pictures from before. Think about how you’ll enjoy your results.*

Phase 5 – Relieved & Happy

Looking good – about 3+ months after surgery
The results are now making themselves clear, and you can thank yourself for going through with the procedure. It’s time to show off!*

Prepare for a Positive Experience
A positive surgery and recovery process begins well beforehand. Start it off by selecting a highly qualified physician at California Skin Institute, one you can trust to achieve excellent results. Dr. James Koch, world-renowned double board-certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, notes “the vast majority of patients are happy with their results, and most wish that they had done it sooner.” Work with them to set realistic goals and understand the overall process. If you have an idea of what to expect — and apply our tips for managing the emotions — you can better ensure smooth sailing, from pre-op to final results.*

Make your appointment for a consultation with an expert physician at California Skin Institute.

* Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.

With Dr. Friedenthal, Dr. Koch, Dr. Lusby, Dr. Morganroth, and Dr. Noodleman.
Our expert physicians provide unparalleled, top-quality care, offering safe and effective cosmetic and reconstructive surgical procedures.*

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