8 tips for facing the world after cosmetic surgery

Mr Ian Whitworth Mr Ian Whitworth Consultant Plastic Surgeon
Worried about how people might react to your new look after cosmetic surgery? Here are eight helpful tips on how to step back into the world with confidence.

Boosting confidence is one of the key motivators for cosmetic surgery, but seeing colleagues, family or friends after the procedure can be a difficult time. Here are a few things to remember:

1. You’re not the only one

Over 50,000 Brits had some form of cosmetic surgery in 2015, so it’s not as rare as it was a decade ago. Cosmetic surgery is talked about openly in the media and there’s a chance you already know someone who’s had ‘work done’. So don’t be shy or ashamed about what you’ve done. Letting the secret out can be a great way to diffuse the tension of people guessing where you’ve been and what’s different about you.

2. Give yourself time to heal

Before you have surgery you should have a clear understanding from your surgeon about how long the healing process will take. All procedures and patients are different, but a facelift, for example, can take a good three to four weeks to recover from. Take plenty of time off work and don’t book yourself in for anything you’re not sure you’ll be ready for.

3. Go for a natural look

Most cosmetic surgeons will recommend you try to maintain a natural appearance after surgery. Most patients want this too. I consider a good result to be the difference between how you feel with and without make-up on. It should boost your confidence, but you should never feel uncomfortable in your own skin.

4. Gossip doesn’t last

News moves fast. So fast, it’s gone before you know it and the next thing has taken its place. It will likely be the same with your surgery. If people do start talking behind your back, it won’t last long before they’ve moved on.

5. Be creative with the truth if you need to

Some patients who have a rhinoplasty procedure, for example, may choose to tell people the operation was to correct a sinus problem. You shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed for having cosmetic surgery, but if it makes you more comfortable, bending the truth isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

6. Prepare for no reaction at all

A successful procedure may go all but unnoticed by your peers. In some cases, people may simply think you’ve just returned from a holiday or had a haircut. Subtle changes can make you feel wonderful, even if others can’t quite pin down what’s different. So take, “have you done something with your hair?” with pride.

7. Take the compliments, ignore the haters

People react to cosmetic surgery in different ways. Some people will be happy for you while others may say hurtful things or make you feel uncomfortable. That is bullying behaviour and like any bully, they may have problems of their own that make them react this way.

Their reaction may be upsetting, but it’s important to remember that it probably doesn’t come from a place of subjective opinion about your looks. Rather, it could be because they have their own insecurities.

8. Tell us if you need more help

Cosmetic surgery is like any other surgery, everyone recovers differently and there is an emotional side to that recovery. If you need more time before returning to work or are taking longer than expected to get used to your new look, then tell your Consultant.

They’ll be able to and give you further advice and guidance on returning to the world after surgery and in some cases, Consultants may offer to write you a certificate for longer sick leave from work if you need it.

Last updated Wednesday 27 November 2019

First published on Monday 12 December 2016