Making the decision

September 1, 2008

While cosmetic procedures may enhance yourself-image, they won't fundamentally change your life. So if you're thinking that a nose job might increase your chances for a promotion, you may want to reconsider your motivations

While cosmetic procedures may enhance your self-image, they won't fundamentally change your life. So, if you're thinking that a nose job might increase your chances for a promotion, you may want to reconsider your motivations.

Several factors make some individuals better candidates for a procedure than others, including health, expectations, time and money. Of course, matching the problem to the correct procedure will weigh in, but, overall, whether you're thinking fillers or facelift, there are some general guidelines that will increase your chances for a positive outcome.

Fitness first

"There is no such thing as a required cosmetic surgery. A patient is not going to die if they don't have a procedure," Dr. Niamtu tells ITK.

However, he says, you may have a significant risk of complications during and after a procedure if you are severely overweight, smoke or have other serious health conditions.

Therefore, it's important to be upfront with your doctor about any health problems you may have, so together, you can work out the most effective treatment plan.

Grounded expectations

According to Dr. Niamtu, bringing in pictures of celebrity body parts, like Angelina Jolie's lips or J-lo's hind side, won't make a positive impression on your doctor.

You need to be honest with yourself about what you're looking to improve and why. Your doctor should help you to better understand what you can expect from a given procedure. But, Dr. Niamtu advises, "You can't quantify a cosmetic result."

An ideal patient is one who says "they just want to look the best they can for their age - that's realistic," he says.

Time flex required

You can't expect to immediately be back at work and fully functioning the day after a procedure, so you've got to factor downtime into the equation - and the amount of time needed for recovery depends on the procedure.

"The media hypes noninvasive procedures to the point that people have unrealistic expectations," Dr. Niamtu warns, so be wary of promises of new procedures and treatments that sound too good to be true.

Show me the money

And just how much is it all going to cost?

Because cosmetic surgery can be expensive, Dr. Niamtu says you should make sure "you have the financial means to go through with a procedure without causing undue stress."

Cosmetic procedures are generally considered "unnecessary," so you have time to get your finances in order - whether you are able to pay cash or need to explore financing options. You may be able to look at smaller procedures over a period of time, instead of one larger procedure, Dr. Niamtu points out.

When patients with limited financial resources come to Dr. Niamtu seeking large or multiple procedures, he asks, "What bothers you the most?" Once clarified, you can work from there with your doctor to determine the most effective procedure for the amount of money you are able to spend.

Plan B

If you don't meet these guidelines, however, all is not lost. Your doctor may suggest some lifestyle changes to improve how you look and feel.

And, in some cases, smaller procedures may be a consideration if your health is an issue.

According to Dr. Niamtu, "You look at plan B. If a patient has time and money, and they need a comprehensive facelift, but they've had a heart attack, maybe I'll suggest a mini lift or a filler."

Alternatively, if recovery time is your biggest obstacle, Dr. Niamtu again suggests considering a less-invasive procedure, such as a mini lift, a light laser, cheek implants or fillers.

"There's usually something for everyone," Dr. Niamtu says.

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