09.19.2018Minimalists

Finding The Real Me: How Cosmetic Procedures Can Reveal Your Inner Beauty

While a cosmetic procedure certainly can enhance someone’s appearance, it can do so much more than just that. Reconstructing a feature or enhancing body shape can not only make someone look better but also it can boost their confidence...

Samantha Stone

Sitting in front of her closest family and friends, Melissa* made a wish and blew out the 26 candles on her birthday cake. All around the table, her friends snapped away to document the special occasion. The next day, when Melissa looked at the photos of her blowing out the candles, she did not see herself.

“I saw a photo of my profile and I was shocked! I did not think the photo looked like me, yet it was,” Melissa said. “I realized I did not look the way I thought I looked which was a strange feeling.”

While a cosmetic procedure certainly can enhance someone’s appearance, it can do so much more than just that. Reconstructing a feature or enhancing body shape can not only make someone look better but also it can boost their confidence and make them feel more like themselves.

Choosing to undergo a cosmetic procedure is not an overnight decision for most. While some procedures are reversible (e.g. dermal filler), others are permanent (e.g. facelift or nose job). Because of that, the research process can be quite lengthy as patients look to gain a holistic understanding of the different options and what each procedure entails.

Like Melissa, many patients undergo a considerable process of pre-contemplation, consideration, and research before following through. All of Melissa’s life she had joked about pursuing a nose job (rhinoplasty) before giving plastic surgery serious thought. For as long as she could remember, she never liked her nose and felt “it better suited a man and was not feminine.” It was not until she moved to Manhattan that she realized, it was now or never. She was surrounded by some of the best plastic surgeons. In Melissa’s mind, there was no excuse not to.

As a first step, Melissa, like most prospective cosmetic procedure patients, turned to the internet to research options. She focused on people who were happy with results but also sought out less successful stories to better understand potential risk. Similarly, Anne*, an tummy tuck (also known as abdominoplasty) patient, shared how she watched a video of an actual abdominoplasty procedure on YouTube when contemplating surgery. From that, she learned that an abdominoplasty is not a light decision, but a “major procedure.” Regardless, to Anne, it was worth it to rebuild her confidence by removing the extra skin she had from weight loss and tightening the loosened stomach muscles that were stretched out from pregnancy.

After identifying which procedure and type of doctor, the natural next step is to schedule office visits for consultations. Anne had a friend who had a tummy tuck and was happy with the results, so Anne knew that if she were to follow through with a tummy tuck, she would see her friend’s board certified plastic surgeon. On the other hand, Melissa did not know anyone who had had a rhinoplasty before so she consulted with two rhinoplasty specialists and one general plastic surgeon. In addition to reviewing potential cosmetic surgeons’ credentials, like medical school, residency program, and plastic surgery training, Melissa made sure to discuss surgical techniques as well as request examples of each plastic surgeon’s past rhinoplasty work. Using a platform like AEDIT is also a great way to find a top rated doctor. With a curation of only board certified doctors, users can easily find and be confident in their selection.

While Melissa and Anne knew exactly which procedures they wanted to pursue, sometimes it can be less clear for others. For instance, when targeting unwanted fat, there can be several methods available, like CoolSculpting, liposuction, or KYBELLA®, just to name a few. As Matt, a KYBELLA® patient, shared “after doing the research it still was hard for me to find a procedure that was right for me and I kinda gambled.” Before learning about AEDIT which is a one stop shop for information about cosmetic procedures, Matt found the research process time consuming and difficult. He explained that “the information is sprawled all over the internet, and I had to cobble it together from different sources.” Like Melissa, Matt did not like the way he looked in pictures and never felt comfortable taking photos with family or friends. In his case, he knew that weight loss alone was not going to solve his issue. Even at his skinniest, he still was unsatisfied and uncomfortable with his appearance in photos. KYBELLA® was a non-invasive way to treat the excess fat under the chin (also known as submental fullness) with injections administered by a KYBELLA® trained specialist..

Recovery is just as important as the surgery so patients must also plan for recuperation as well. Depending on the procedure type, patients can be out of commission for days or even weeks. With Anne’s general surgery, she had to stay in bed and lay flat on her back for a week. Prior to her surgery, Anne had arranged for her daughter to care for her. With less invasive treatments like KYBELLA®, recovery time is much shorter when compared to a procedure like a tummy tuck or facelift. However, with less invasive treatments like KYBELLA® or dermal filler, patients may have to have several treatments before seeing its effects and a noticeable difference.

Possibly even more difficult than the physical stress of procedures is the trust patients must have in their doctors. Patients must trust that their plastic surgeons or certified injectors understand their vision of what they would like to look like coming out of the procedure. They also must find the right balance of change so they still look like themselves but are not a completely different looking person. Fortunately, there are simulators, like the AEDITOR app, which is a precise facial morphing tool where people can adjust their nose, brows, and lips in order to ensure they are comfortable with the changes before following through with surgery.

“Looking back, I was nervous and told the doctor I wanted a nose job but I still wanted to look like ME,” Melissa said. “And thinking back now, that was the wrong thing to say because the fact was- I was seeking plastic surgery because I did not want to look like me.”

Feature focused plastic surgeries, like Melissa’s rhinoplasty, can feel risky for the person undergoing the surgery because they are reconstructing a feature in an entirely new way. The outcome is not as easy to visualize compared to procedures, such as facelifts or tummy tucks, which have clear objectives to leave the patient looking naturally younger or thinner. When possible, it is important to use a facial simulator, like the AEDITOR app, especially when trying to communicate objectively with the doctor. When pursuing weight loss or rejuvenation procedures, most patients have already seen themselves in that younger or thinner state and know exactly what to expect. On the other hand, when changing specific features, such as the nose, cheeks, or lips, or undergoing reconstructive surgery, like fixing a cleft lip, patients are hoping to uncover a new external identity. The goal is for them to look in the mirror and see their true selves for the first time.

With major advances in aesthetic surgery over the years, people can be the best physical versions of themselves through the endless options of cosmetic procedures. Dreams of having the perfect curves, toned abs, or plump lips are made a reality through surgery and/or injections. Even more impactful, are the advances that benefit those seeking reconstructive or preventative surgery. Breast Cancer survivors can mask their wounds through breast reconstruction surgeries and citizens of third world countries can regain confidence through plastic and reconstructive surgeries offered by mission trips.

For larger surgeries, such as a tummy tuck or breast surgery (e.g. breast augmentation or breast reduction), changes can be immediately noticeable. Even so, patients can still keep their procedures private if they wish to. “I didn’t tell many people about the surgery and just told them I had lost weight, which was pretty obvious,” Anne explained. To this day, only Anne’s closest family and friends know about her recent surgery.

So, can cosmetic procedure patients find the inner confidence they were hoping for? The short answer: absolutely.

With treatments like Xeomin®, KYBELLA®, or CoolSculpting, improvements can be delayed because of the multiple sessions needed, but can still be highly transformative. Matt shared that he required three sessions of KYBELLA® but “once there was a noticeable difference it made me much more confident on a daily basis.”

Melissa felt her confidence boosted immediately after healing from her rhinoplasty. Prior to surgery, she was self-conscious that the first thing people noticed about her was her nose. After surgery, Melissa was relieved that her nose would no longer be the focal point of her face. Even though Melissa is so happy she took action and control of this pain point of hers, she admits she would have approached the surgery differently by working with a rhinoplasty specialist rather than a board certified plastic surgeon. “I still do not love the way it looks which is a little disappointing, but it is better than it was, and I have accepted that as being better than nothing,” Melissa said.

It can be hard to achieve perfect results and complete satisfaction, but it is not impossible! Anne shared how happy she is with her tummy tuck, even several years later. Anne opted for a tummy tuck to regain her confidence for her daughter’s wedding. “When I went to try on the dress for my daughter's wedding and looked in the mirror, I was incredibly overwhelmed,” Anne shared. “Besides having lost weight, the surgery made my torso look incredible. I never thought I could look that good!”

With open expectations and willingness to change, aesthetic procedures have the potential to not only enhance appearance but also transform someone’s confidence!

  • The patient’s name has been changed.
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