Common feelings and emotions after having surgery – Is it normal to feel emotional after having cosmetic surgery?
Yes, it’s typically quite normal to experience a bit of ‘post-surgery’ blues, sad feelings or emotions. But if feeling emotional after surgery lingers for more than a few days or weeks, or feels extreme, seek counselling support.
Because most emotional reactions after having cosmetic surgery tend to pass quickly as you start to feel better during your surgery recovery.
That noted, if you have complex or unrealistic expectations about what surgery can accomplish – believing it will rescue a failing relationship or turn your life around – then you’re CHOOSING surgery for the wrong reasons. It’s crucial to discuss your reasons and motivations for cosmetic surgery – and your expectations – with your surgeon during a consultation; and to get counselling when required.
Common feelings after having Plastic Cosmetic Surgery include:
- second-guessing your decisions to have an operation
- feeling uncomfortable or sleep-deprived – this increases your tendency to feel emotional or become very sensitive
- heightened sensitivity about other’s opinions on your surgery choices
- questioning your surgery options such as your breast implant size or the new size or shape of your nipple reconstruction
- wondering WHAT you’ll actually LOOK like once the swelling resolves or your incisions heal
- feeling confused about what’s normal to experience and what you NEED to contact your Surgeon about (when in doubt, call your Surgeon or his or her nurse – don’t delay if you feel you have a complication)
Additionally, you may find yourself:
- feeling stressed about the incision line (scar) and wondering how you can help it heal better (be sure you follow the Recovery Guide and your Surgeon’s specific instructions)
- searching Google for other people’s experiences with surgery, and ruminating on potential outcomes
- experiencing a lack of energy or ‘oomph’ – feeling a bit down
- missing your exercise routines and other daily activities that you’ve put on hold, temporarily as you heal
Basically, after having Plastic Surgery, you’re likely to experience a variety of feelings – emotional ups and downs during your initial recovery process.
The key is to become educated about the recovery process without becoming obsessive. It also helps to keep in contact with your Surgeon’s team and your at-home support team: NOT the individuals who warned you NOT to have surgery, but those around you who actually UNDERSTOOD WHY you were having the procedure, to begin with.
It is typically normal to feel emotional after you’ve had a major operation – especially an elective procedure.
But if you FEEL CONCERNED about your emotional responses and feelings AFTER having Surgery, please contact your Surgeon or Nursing Team for suggestions. If however, you find you’re having very strong EMOTIONAL RESPONSES after surgery, then you may also benefit from professional counselling. If you feel at risk for your personal well-being, please phone Lifeline on 131114 or phone Beyond Blue AND visit your GP – be sure you tell a friend or family member how you’re feeling, and get support immediately.
To some extent, emotional feelings about an elective surgery procedure – while you’re healing – is not uncommon. But if the reaction seems extreme or you feel at risk, be sure you seek immediate emotional support.
Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster of Cosmetic Surgery
5 Key Tips for Getting Through the Recovery Period
Feelings and Common Emotions Before Your Cosmetic Surgery Procedure – and how they change after having surgery.
What FEELINGS and EMOTIONS are COMMON BEFORE having cosmetic surgery?
- It can be exciting to think about getting a cosmetic surgery procedure done.
- Anticipation BEFORE cosmetic surgery can border on the same levels of excitement you might have when planning a holiday.
- BUT surgery and recovery processes are NOT as RELAXING as having a few weeks at the beach.
- Just remember this tip and recognise that recovery WILL PASS – sometimes more quickly than you expect. Patience is required.
- When you get through the actual surgery part, you may feel a bit of a ‘let down’ in the sense the anticipation and excitement has crescendoed.
- Now you have to get through the ‘resting and recovering’ part of the process which can feel uncomfortable or interrupt your sleep (which impacts your emotions).
- This too WILL pass; just remind yourself of this AND be gentle with yourself during your recovery.
What are the best tips for dealing with cosmetic surgery recovery?
- Putting your BEFORE photos on your fridge or bathroom mirror (and maybe some motivational images so long as they’re realistic) can help remind you of WHY you chose surgery.
- Visit our RECOVERY TIPS page.
- Have good support around you and a comfortable environment. Listen to your favourite uplifting songs and enjoy your healing time as much as possible.
Download Our 7 Steps to Cosmetic Surgery Guide
Top Tips for getting through the emotional ups and downs of having had cosmetic surgery – feelings during recovery and healing time.
Know what to expect – why it’s good to do your cosmetic surgery research.
- Before you have surgery, research the procedure.
- Talk to others who’ve had it done.
- Attend one of our EVENTS and meet other patients.
- Write down WHY you’re having surgery in the first place.
- Put a realistic inspirational photo up next to a current one (don’t put an unrealistic photo of a supermodel up if that’s not at all what you look like!)
Remind yourself why you chose to have surgery.
Keep the enhanced result you’re aiming for, in mind, as you journey through the process of a consultation, surgery date selection, payment of the procedure cost, arrival at the hospital theatre, meeting with the anaesthetist and theatre nursing team, waking up in recovery, and healing from surgery both in the hospital and at home.
- Remind yourself of what concerned you in the past, and why you are choosing surgery to change or enhance that particular physical aspect of your body.
- Bear in mind that a few patients DO have a complication (most are minor) but that if you DO experience a complication, like an infection or other problem, healing may be delayed.
Keep your expectations in check.
But at all times, keep your expectations realistic and be sure you openly discuss your fears, results, desires and expectations with your Surgeon – because most people who are unhappy with surgery had unrealistic expectations about what surgery could, or couldn’t, achieve.
- Surgery can give you an enhanced or altered version of YOU.
- But it won’t suddenly leave you looking like a supermodel or movie star.
- Having realistic expectations will help you STRESS LESS about your results as you heal.
- Remember, too, that healing and recovery take time. It is likely several weeks to several months before you see your final results.
- Be patient and be sure to contact your Surgeon’s team with any concerns.
- Follow good self-care practices.
Know that surgery cannot change your life. It might enhance your appearance, but what you start with DOES impact your final result.
- All aspects of having cosmetic plastic surgery can feel daunting as well as exciting.
- It helps to keep your expectations in line with what your Surgeon describes is possible.
- Double-check your expectations with friends and family members BEFORE proceeding.
- Know that things like your skin health and skin resiliency, lifestyle habits, genetics and healing capacity WILL impact your results.
- Remember you’ll still look like YOU – but potentially a version of you that you’re happier with than before you had surgery.
Surgery may alter your feelings of confidence (but not for all individuals), and it may decrease your sense of self-consciousness. But not for everyone.
Remember that cosmetic surgery results can vary. Results and scars take time to fully settle.
Surgery CAN change lives, and often does – but no guarantee.
- Your confidence MAY or may not change after surgery; while many patients report greater satisfaction with their appearance or more confidence, some DON’T.
- Increased Confidence or “selfie satisfaction” MAY be an outcome IF, for example, a bumpy, crooked nose profile has always left you FEELING uncomfortable about being photographed; and now you’re finally fixing that crooked nose or reducing that nose bump with a nose job.
- Another example: having breast implants to get a curvier upper body (or reducing heavy, saggy breasts with a breast and nipple uplift or a breast reduction) can leave you with more flexibility in your fashion choices – as well as potentially feeling a bit more SELF-ASSURED about your body.
But feeling more confident is definitely not the case for every patient. Every single patient has a different reason for having surgery, and different expectations.
Will I feel more confident or less confident after having surgery?
This depends on YOU and numerous factors. But most patients need to recover and let their scars settle before coming to terms with how their appearance has changed, and what it means to them in terms of their reactions.
Self-confidence may improve after having plastic surgery. But it’s not guaranteed. Every patient, every surgery, and every result is different.
But feeling more confident after surgery is more likely to be the case – making it easier to get through the emotional ups and downs of surgery recovery – IF you have realistic expectations about the results.
AND it can help if you’re choosing a plastic cosmetic surgery procedure to help:
- reshape a feature that feels largely out of proportion with the rest of your face or body, such as:
- correcting a very large or crooked nose or reducing bumps
- improving the appearance of tuberous breasts
- reducing excessively heavy, large breasts that lead to back, neck and shoulder pain
- rejuvenate or refine your facial appearance; such as:
- enhancing a recessed chin with a chin implant/chin augmentation procedure
- getting rid of a ‘double chin’ with a neck lift or with under-chin fat reduction injections
- lifting sagging eyelids that leave you looking older or impact your vision (eyelid surgery)
- reduce the appearance of ageing through a laser/light-based skin treatment
- reducing ageing spots, smoothing out wrinkles or lines and reducing acne scars or other facial scars
- contour your body after weight loss or pregnancy through a procedure such as:
- liposuction or body contouring
- tummy tuck (Abdominoplasty)
- breast lift, nipple reshaping or breast reduction
So what are the common feelings experienced after Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, and how do they change?
Expect to feel UPS and DOWNS during recovery from plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery.
After surgery, expect a variety of feelings and emotions for the first few weeks or months.
- One of the most difficult parts of healing after surgery, in addition to losing a bit of sleep and feeling emotional, is the change in STATUS from anticipation to post-event.
- Being excited about something in the future – whether that’s a holiday, a wedding or a surgery procedure – can mean that you might feel a bit ’empty’ once the anticipated event has passed.
- So expect a bit of an emotional change once you reach the ‘summit’ of your experience (the surgery itself) but remember, the real summit is when you can see the results with no swelling or bruising (as long as you’ve kept your expectations in line with what’s actually possible).
Following ANY significant event in your life, including surgery, you are bound to experience a range of different emotions and feelings.
Cosmetic & plastic surgery is no different, in this sense, to other big events.
Plus, because there is a low-activity time during your healing and recovery process, these changing emotions MAY even feel a bit more intense than what you’ve experienced after OTHER major life events have passed.
- Additionally, if an issue had bothered you for some time (drooping breasts, for example) and you’ve now had an uplift, you may suddenly start to pay attention to how the rest of the body looks in relation to the uplifted breasts.
- The same is true with a tummy tuck or a facelift – suddenly you notice how having a flatter tummy or tighter facial skin makes the rest of your body appear, in contrast – and ageing, pregnancy, feature imbalance or birth deformity are only SOME of the reasons people choose to have a plastic surgery procedure.
How can you best cope with the feelings – emotional ups and downs of your recovery and healing period -after having surgery?
Tips for COPING with your RECOVERY period.
- First, download and read the Plastic Surgery Procedure and Recovery Guides) at the links listed above.
- Know that vacillating emotions are typically completely normal for post-surgery recovery periods.
- But DO call your Specialist, GP or even LIFELINE if you start to feel that your post-op emotions are too much for you to handle.
- And if you already suffer from symptoms of depression or anxiety before your Surgery, you’ll want to be sure to let your Specialist and your medical care team know this so that they can best assist you. Here’s what to keep in mind BEFORE, and AFTER, your surgery procedure.
Remember, as you allow adequate time to rest and heal:
- Your body will go experience physical changes as you recover
- As a result, your emotions will change too – sometimes day by day
- As you heal – BUT before you see the more final results of your surgery – you may question yourself about why you chose to have it done
- this may occur EVEN if it’s been a long-wanted, soon-to-be-life changing procedure
- nearly everyone questions themselves just after their surgery (especially if it’s their first major surgery)
- it can help to talk with someone who’s already been through the same procedure and is fully recovered
- Sometimes having ANY ‘quiet time’ to think things over will result in you ruminating about different aspects of your life or your past
- this can happen AFTER cosmetic surgery
- it can also happen if you take a long retreat or simply spend a lot of time alone
- sometimes professional support can be helpful to heal from past disappointments
- Dr Google or searching for stories about botched surgery results doesn’t help (unless just to remind yourself of the dangers of going overseas for cosmetic surgery)
- Social support from friends, family and loved ones can go a long way in helping you through your recovery period and through the typical emotional ups and downs as you heal
- DO choose your post-operation support team very carefully
- Be sure to SURROUND yourself with friends or family who UNDERSTAND, and SUPPORT, the REASONS you chose to have a procedure
- If you have someone you know who went through it themselves, put their phone number on speed dial
WHEN family or friends don’t fully understand why you chose to have a procedure (or if they are not supportive about you have it), they can inadvertently add to your self-questioning or negative emotional responses.
Extra Plastic Surgery Recovery Tips
Don’t worry about being worried.
- Before you see the results of an important exam or hear back about a job interview, you may worry – even stress – about the outcome.
- Wondering if you passed, failed or were going to be chosen over other applicants?
- Questioning yourself if you had performed as well as you had hoped?
Similar scenarios of self-doubt can occur during your post-operative surgery recovery time.
- With surgery, you are likely to question yourself – and your Surgeon – about whether everything went as well as you hoped and expected.
- Recognise these as typically normal reactions. And check in with your Surgeon, team or family support to increase your patience about seeing the results.
- Self-questioning and self-doubt is typically entirely normal after having cosmetic plastic surgery.
Plus, you’ll likely have forgotten some of the tips about ‘what to expect during your post-op healing’ period by the time you get to that stage of your procedure. These feelings of worry or doubt are completely normal – after all, you haven’t seen the results yet.
- In addition to the steps above, it’s usually helpful to remind yourself that fluctuating emotions – and self-questioning – are temporary and normal after having a surgical procedure.
- They often PASS relatively quickly (weeks or a few months) – and you WILL heal!
- You chose to have the procedure for good reasons, and trust that an experienced Plastic Surgeon will have done everything they can to get you a skilfully executed result that suits your other features balances out your body or face and/or enhances your appearance.
Experiencing Discomfort, Pain or Stretching Sensations after your Cosmetic Surgery
- Contact your Surgeon if any sensations are of concern (read the guides they provide on what’s normal and what’s not).
- It is often reasonable and normal to feel discomfort, sensitivity, pain and certain bruising post-operatively.
- But if the area becomes very red and hot, or extreme swelling, and/or if you have concerns, contact your Surgeon immediately and seek care.
Be sure to communicate the levels of pain, and any unusual or concerning symptoms, to your Specialist. Don’t delay communicating any concerns.
When you feel physical pain you are likely to be more sensitive, or down, emotionally as well.
- Plenty of patients feel physically uncomfortable while they are recuperating in the hospital or at home in the days following their surgery.
- It is natural to also feel emotionally uncomfortable during the recovery weeks.
Remember that what you LOOK like in the first weeks after your surgery will be VERY different in the months to follow, as your body recovers.
- Seeing yourself post-operatively with swelling, bruising and scars can be confronting.
- This is a completely normal experience and many patients report similar feelings.
- It can also take some time to physically AND emotionally adjust to the changes you’ve chosen to make to your body.
- It is important to allow yourself to experience these emotions in a supportive environment – take gentle care with yourself
- Pamper yourself and be sure to get as much good sleep and good nutrition as you can – this will help speed up your recovery.
- Follow your Surgeon’s instructions in the RAPID RECOVERY packages and protocols
- Attend your HEALITE II or Fraxel treatments as scheduled AND be sure to attend all follow-up consultations to be sure you’re on track and that what you’re experiencing is normal (and express any concerns to your Surgeon, Nurse or other medical Care Team)
- Understand that complications can occur, and prepare yourself for the possibility of experiencing, and handling, any presenting complications with your Care Team and Surgeon
If you find yourself dwelling on the healing processes, remember the reasons why you chose to have your surgery, and remind yourself to be patient as you heal.
- Think about the benefits of the surgery
- Imagine how harmonious or aesthetically improved the long term results will be when you are healed
- Consider how much less self-conscious you maybe about that body part or facial feature – or how photographs will have changed!
Enjoying the excitement of watching your own surgery recovery
Do you remember the episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills where Kim holds a ‘coming out’ party following her rhinoplasty? Her surgeon attends the party, dramatically removes the bandages, and Kim enthusiastically reveals her new nose to the crowd of guests. Sure, this was a little outrageous, however, you can imagine her feelings.
You may not feel the need to throw a party, but there will certainly be excited when your own bandages come off. There may be some remnants of swelling and bruising, however at this point you’ve made it past the most difficult recovery period. You will begin to feel more like yourself, and be excited about the final results.
Self-confidence and Positive Self Beliefs Go a Long Way During Times of Stress and Change
Plenty of research has been done in regards to patient self-image after cosmetic surgery, and to qualities such as resiliency and positive thinking.
- The results are overwhelmingly positive.
- According to research, “A generalised finding in postoperative evaluations of women’s self-image was that cosmetic surgery had a positive effect on women’s psyches.” Furthermore, patients who are well prepared physically and mentally for surgery experience the highest levels of satisfaction following surgery.
Worth it ratings for Cosmetic Surgery and Plastic Surgery (Real Self or the Hub)
- Most procedures, according to forums such as Real Self and the Plastic Surgery Hub, also have a high “worth it” rating on consumer forums – AFTER healing is completed.
- That means that the majority of patients believe surgery was WORTH IT in terms of the process, cost of surgery, healing time and scars.
Worth it rating for Facial Rejuvenating Surgery (Facelift, Necklift)
- For facial rejuvenation surgery such as a Facelift, brow lift or eyelid lift, one JAMA research study showed a rejuvenation result equivalent to reducing the appearance of a person’s age by a mean of 7.2 years. (Read more about How to get the best surgical result in getting a facelift)
- People who have under chin fat injections to reduce a double chin also claim the surgery was ‘worth it’ in terms of expense and healing time.
Phone us on 1300 264 811 or click the button at the top of this page to arrange a telephone discussion with our caring Patient Coordinators.
We can help you through your personal postoperative journey and feelings – just phone us to get started.
- Our top Plastic & Cosmetic Surgeons and Patient Care Team have helped thousands of patients through their surgery experiences, including the uncomfortable post-op recovery time.
- Our Team will go to great lengths to ensure your postoperative experience and discomfort-management helps address your needs.
- We even include lifestyle and nutrition suggestions – and a Rapid Recovery Kit – to encourage a more comfortable recovery period with optimum results.
Visit our Downloadable Guides pages
For more information about Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery options and research in Australia.