Plastic Surgery Prerequisites

The times they are a changing. The phrase applies to the new year and how people feel about plastic surgery. Thankfully, society’s understanding of plastic surgery has matured as the practice has demonstrated its ability to improve human wellbeing, says board-certified plastic surgeon John Zannis, M.D., head of the Zannis Center for Plastic Surgery (New Bern, NC). “Decades ago, I think it’s fair to say there was a stigma that plastic surgery was for those with too much money and vanity, but now it’s known to help people who have perfectly healthy reasons to alter their bodies—from breast cancer survivors to people with breathing obstructions,” says Zannis.

It's not all good news, though. “However, plastic surgery is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US, and some of the doctors performing these procedures are not certified,” Zannis says. “Their patients are at risk not only of botched surgeries, but of undergoing unnecessary procedures for the wrong reasons.”

Zannis, who studied art and art history in Florence, Italy, says context is extremely important in plastic surgery. Here, he offers his prerequisites that you can pass along to patients considering plastic and cosmetic surgery.

•  Don’t undergo a procedure that makes you unrecognizable, unless you’re correcting disfigurement. Whether you want to gain more confidence because you’ve recently reentered the dating scene or you’ve decided upon aesthetic improvements for your career, there’s something distinctly American about continued self-improvement throughout one’s life. Recently, actress Renee Zellweger shocked much of the public with her new, post-surgical look. “Zellweger has since stated that she embraces her new look, adding that change is the purpose of her surgery,” says Zannis. “However, many patients prefer to remain recognizable to their friends and family. Make sure to choose a procedure with a surgeon who grasps the idea of undergoing improvements while maintaining a recognizable appearance.”

•  Board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery is a must! Just like everyone else, doctors want to make money. In many cases, doctors aren’t required to be certified to inject Botox or perform other procedures. We’ve all heard the plastic surgery nightmares, which are often caused by a botched surgery, a surgeon who didn’t explain to the patient the overall change to a face with oversized lips, or a combination of the two.

•  Do it for your own reasons and not someone else’s. It’s one thing to seek breast enhancement in order to boost one’s own confidence; it’s another to do so to please a boyfriend. “It’s your body,” Zannis says. “You will have to deal with the consequences of a larger chest for the rest of your life. Be clear that you are the one who wants to change your body.”

•  Avoid the rabbit hole of too much cosmetic surgery. You don’t have to have a single bad surgery to miss the mark of your intended self-improvement. It’s possible to get several excellent procedures done with a result of diminishing returns. “If you think your nose could be better or you’d like help eliminating fat in places that, no matter how much you diet and exercise, simply will not go away, then a procedure may be in order,” he says. “And, you may want multiple procedures done. If this is the case, keep in mind the overall picture of what you’re going for.”