Overcoming Fear. Common Cosmetic Surgery Fears.

Overcoming Fear: How to avoid letting common fears about Cosmetic Surgery stop you from getting the Plastic Surgery you’ve always wanted.

Have you been thinking about undergoing cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery procedure? Or getting liposuction or reduce fat and bulges from your belly, hips or thighs? Whatever self-improvement options you choose to enhance yourself physically, emotionally, educationally or socially this year, it’s certainly not uncommon for the START of each year to be ALL about “reinventing” yourself and setting goals.  Whether for physical enhancement, re-balancing, beautification or correction of a scar or a genetic deformity, you have FAR more options today than your parents did in years gone by.  So if you want to feel better about your breasts or tummy after having children, losing significant weight, or reducing the impacts of skin ageing processes to your breast, body or face, we can help. BUT if you’re like most of us, you likely have fears about undergoing cosmetic surgery – if so, you are not alone.

Countless people all over the world have anxiety and fear when it comes to surgery, injections and even minor procedures, even when they are relatively free of significant pain (cosmetic injections, for example, are often far less uncomfortable than most people would anticipate).

  • talking to other patients and investigating their choice of a Specialist Surgeon to be sure they are FRACS qualified or a top cosmetic plastic surgeon in their field
  • choosing a Surgeon they feel confident and relaxed talking to – you’ll want to feel comfortable to ask your Surgeon ANY and ALL questions (in other words, a Cosmetic Specialist Plastic Surgeon who is a good listener and great communicator is best for cosmetic surgery patients who are overly anxious and prone to asking a lot of questions)
  • learning more about the procedure itself and the risks so you can have detailed, informed conversations about your surgery choices
  • finding out how to maximise their chances of getting a good recovery period and good plastic surgery result and reduce any unnecessary surgical risks (e.g., by NOT smoking; by following the Plastic Surgeon’s post-op instructions very carefully and wearing the right garments after surgery)
  • keeping risks in perspective (all surgery has risks and there will be scars, but choosing the safest place to have your procedure performed and the most qualified Surgeon can do a lot to mitigate or manage the usual surgery risks, and fortunately, most complications do end up being minor in nature – even so, DO understand ALL the risks by doing your research prior to consenting to a cosmetic surgery procedure).
  • not falling for the lure of discount cheap surgery by an unknown doctor or an overseas surgery outfit that might not live up to Australian safety standards for patient care and post-op follow-ups – many people have spoken to the media lately about ‘botched cosmetic surgery’ after attending an overseas discount surgery group – and remember, some things can’t be fixed.

Are you overly anxious or fearful about having cosmetic surgery or plastic cosmetic surgery?

anxiety, overcoming fears of cosmetic surgery
Some people, however, have an abundance of fear about cosmetic surgery or about going under General Anesthesia; fear that might even border on a type of phobia about Injections, Hospitals, Doctors or Surgeons.  It’s not uncommon to be mildly anxious and to look at – and understand – the risks before you make a decision, but if you’re really wanting to have a procedure done and you’re letting fear stop you, there may be ways to overcome your excess fear.  Whatever you do, however, DON’T choose to have a procedure if you feel it’s not right for you or if you don’t fully understand the actual risks and are willing to accept that all serious is serious and has risks.  That noted, if you’re really wanting to get surgery done and are trying to overcome anxiety or excessive fears about having surgery, injections or general anaesthetic, there are ways you can mitigate your anxiety with the right information and Surgical support team.

Fear is not a bad thing to have, unless it’s in the extreme format that stops you from doing or having what you’re really wanting, such as fearing Surgery that is considered generally safe for healthy patients.

Reasonable fear is a good thing, especially about cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery; because FEAR can actually encourage you to be cautious about which Surgeon you choose – AND lead you to check their qualifications as a fully certified Specialist Plastic Surgeon (for facelift, nose reshaping, eyes or body surgery) or Oculoplastic Surgeon (for eyelid or brow surgery).

You’ll want to choose your Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Team very carefully, by conducting thorough research and word of mouth investigations and getting an intuitive sense of whether or not that Surgeon is the Right Surgeon for you.  Trust your gut instinct and see what other patients have to say – but DO choose a fully qualified Plastic Surgeon (looks for FRACS membership as well as ISAPS, ASAPS and/or ASPS memberships for a sanctioned Plastic Surgeon – as nearly any doctor or person can claim to be a cosmetic surgeon but the Medical Title of Specialist Plastic Surgeon is highly protected by the Medical Boards of Australia).

So what if you’re simply really afraid of having a cosmetic surgery procedure – yet really wanting to have it done?


Yet if you’re wanting a cosmetic surgery procedure and find you have excess fear bordering on anxiety, what can you do to quell your pre-surgery jitters if you’re really committed to getting the procedure done?

Fear of Doctors, Cosmetic Surgery or Anaesthetic

If you really want to get a procedure done but find fear is stopping you, there are different ways that you can combat your fear of surgery or anaesthetic and overcome your anxiety. Typically, some of the best ways to overcome fear is to better understand your response and the learning methods that can help you overcome the psychological challenges of making changes, surgical changes or otherwise.

Cosmetic Surgery – Common Fears and How to Overcome Anxiety about Having Plastic Surgery

Your fear is likely founded by horror stories that you have heard throughout your life. You may even have your own negative experience that is feeding your fear. You have probably heard stories about people going under the scalpel and having complications. Or what about hearing stories about inferior products (fortunately our Surgeon’s use only quality, reputable brands for implants and injectables)?  Or hearing about when a Surgeons or Patient chooses implants that are too large? Or cosmetic injection overload stories?

Many of these cosmetic surgery horror stories or ‘botched surgery’ outcomes, unfortunately, stem from people using a less than qualified or under-experienced Surgeon team or trying to save money by choosing the cheapest surgery option and not considering that some things cannot be fixed.  Regardless of the source of your fear, it is important to know the steps you can take to calm your anxiety enough to move forward with your desired procedure – whether cosmetic or medical.

Do Your Research and Educate Yourself to overcome excessive fear of having a Cosmetic Surgery procedure.

This is perhaps the most critical step in overcoming your fear. Information is power. It’s also crucial from many perspectives to make an informed and educated decision about your cosmetic or plastic surgery procedure AND your Surgeon.

It is important to understand your medical or cosmetic procedure in as much detail as possible, without frightening yourself by watching the actual procedure on YouTube (as one eyelid patient nearly did, but went on to have a successful eyelid reduction surgery and is very happy).

It is also extremely important to research your practitioner or Surgeon. You want to find a Surgeon who is experienced and who has great reviews in his or her community, as well as who lives as locally as possible to where you live.

  • Be sure to visit your surgeon’s office for consultations and develop a relationship where you trust your surgeon.
  • Ask questions about what to expect both during and after surgery.
  • Also, realize that most risks associated with many cosmetic procedures are extremely low or involve manageable complications (but DO understand the nature of the possible complications; some things are unpredictable so be prepared and choose a good Team so you know that, in the event, a complication DOES occur, it’s managed properly).
  • Understanding the risks and risk rates associated with your procedure can help ease your distress, as can knowing how you and your Surgeon will handle something together as a team should a minor or major complication occur.
  • Choosing a well-known Specialist Plastic Surgeon is not guarantee for a great outcome, as you AND your Surgeon both have a part to play in your surgery result – but choosing a highly experienced, well-regarded Specialist with decades of experience in your cosmetic surgery procedure DOES tend to give you greater peace of mind ALONG WITH greater experience in the event of unexpected situations.

Explain to your Specialist Surgeon that you have a high level of fear of cosmetic surgery or medical procedures.

Overcoming fear about cosmetic surgery

Ask as many questions as you want in order to feel more comfortable.

If you feel like your practitioner is rushing you through your appointments then maybe it’s time to find another practice. Feeling comfortable with both the surgeon and the office staff is important in combating your anxiety. The staff can also provide you with information on what you can do to lessen your fear prior and potentially even prescribe medication to help alleviate some of that anxiety.

You also want to find a cosmetic plastic surgery practise that believes in doing what is right by the patient, and not just what the patient wants. Less is more and sometimes a specialist surgeon will need to tell you where you should stop with implants sizes or cosmetic injections or dermal fillers.

Natural beauty is only achieved by the most skilled of Specialist Surgeons, so be sure to find a practice that has the right values when it comes to the appearance of their patients. Not just in the short term, but how the surgery result will be maintained over time and with natural ageing.  It’s important you understand that major life changes or weight changes can impact your results over time.

It’s great to also recognise that cosmetic surgery/plastic surgery cannot achieve miracles or fix everything in your life.  Hence, it’s important to have realistic expectations about results and understand that results DO vary from patient to patient.

Choosing a really good Cosmetic Specialist Plastic Surgeon who will help you understand what can, and cannot, be attained through a surgical or injecting procedure is crucial for getting a pleasing result that meets your expectations.

common cosmetic surgery anxiety and fears

Seek Counseling or Alternative Treatments for Anxiety

If you’re very anxious about surgery, perhaps this is an emotion you feel in other areas of your life. If so, sometimes counselling may be of assistance.

There are many people that try various methods of dealing with anxiety and fear. Counselling or speaking to your GP is one common way, but there are others some patients try to help them manage excessive fears about surgery that has relatively high patient safety ratings when performed in the right setting, by the right surgeon, in the right hospital at the right time.

Treatments such as acupressure and acupuncture, massage, “tapping”, yoga, hypnosis, and meditation have all shown to be somewhat effective in treating some types of fear and anxiety. Studies also show that playing some relaxing music, reading a book, taking a bath, or even exercising has been shown to help alleviate surgical anxiety.

You can also journal about your feelings and your fears which can potentially help you find the root of your dismay. Or talk to other patients who had fear, went through with their surgeries, and are happy to be on the other side of the experience with the surgery outcomes they were seeking – a reshaped nose through Rhinoplasty, an eyelid reduction, larger breasts through breast implants – smaller or firmer breasts through a breast reduction or breast lift, or body contouring after weight loss.

Counselling with a great therapist is also a highly effective method for dealing with any anxiety or fear and one can achieve great progress towards leading an anxiety-free life. Counselling can help you especially if you have already had an experience in the past with a bad surgical procedure or insensitive Doctor.

It is important to remember that anxiety is temporary and those scary emotions and physical reactions to your fear will pass and subside eventually. Learning that can sometimes be enough to understand and overcome your fears.

common plastic surgery fears, phobia about doctors

Have a Solid Plan about managing your anxiety and it’s not the right time and you’re just too uncomfortable, wait until you’re ready – or get the help you need to overcome unusual anxiety and fears about your surgery procedure

Before you go in for your cosmetic surgery procedure, ideally with a FRACS qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeon in an Australian hospital or approved operating facility, have a solid plan in place for AFTER your procedure so that you can focus on healing and be less nervous about the after-effects of having gone under the knife. It can be an emotional time during the post-op phase, and you may even question yourself during the acute healing stages, but those times will pass. And if you wait it out and manage your fear, you may just end up with the great results you have long wanted in terms of more shapely breasts, less belly fat through a Tummy Tuck or Liposuction, or younger-looking eyelids after Blepharoplasty surgery.

  • Take the necessary and recommended time off of work and plan for appropriate childcare.
  • Freeze some pre-cooked meals in the freezer so that your family has some healthy home-cooked meals that can be popped into the oven or crockpot.
  • Set up your recovery station and have plenty of water, tissues, books, magazines, lip balm, and whatever else you think you will need while resting and recovering.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and family and remember that recovery is also temporary – you will be all good before you know it!

If you follow the steps above, you might just experience a positive surgical experience and overcome your fear of medical procedures altogether!

Ready to take the first step towards getting the nose, face, breasts or body shape or contours you always wanted?

Connect with one of our top Specialist Plastic Surgeons to discuss your cosmetic surgery goals, in a NO OBLIGATION consultation. Our Surgeon’s are great communicators and give you a lot of information, and they never rush you into making a decision.  You’ll love the fact they have so much experience in performing their selected specialty cosmetic procedures, and that they have been Specialist Plastic Surgeons in your community for several decades – meaning they care about their reputation, their quality, their patients – their surgery results AND their communities.

Please send a CONFIDENTIAL email below or phone a caring patient coordinator on 1300 599 990 – or schedule your no-obligation consultation with a Specialist Melbourne Plastic Surgeon today.

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Further Reading about Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery

Last updated: 12/09/2023
Author profile image
Dr Craig Rubinstein - MBBS, FRACS (Plast)
Dr Craig Rubinstein MBBS, FRACS (Plast), a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, is one of Australia's most respected Melbourne Surgeons for Breast Augmentation, Breast Lift (Mastopexy), Breast Reduction surgery and Abdominoplasty procedures. Using advanced surgical techniques to gain better body contouring and natural-looking surgical results, Dr Rubinstein is highly regarded by peers and patients for best-practice Clinic Patient-care and patient education strategies. He published a chapter on corrective surgery for Breast Asymmetry. Qualifications/Training Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) The Australian Medical Association (AMA) American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ISAPS) Founder: Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery previously Cosmetic Surgery for Women and Men Bio Page: https://cocorubyplasticsurgery.com.au/dr-craig-rubinstein-plastic-surgeon/

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With a wealth of experience and training, our Specialist Plastic and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeons are dedicated to best-practice patient care and education, customising Surgery for each and every patient to best meet their needs and desired surgical outcomes.

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday.

Phone 1300 599 990, Email us: enquiries@cocoruby.com.au or Book a FREE 15-minute Phone Chat with our Patient Liaison Manager or a Consultation with a Surgeon.

Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.