Can You Use Sick Leave for Cosmetic Surgery?


With social media image and video sharing booming, many cosmetic surgery patients are opting to share their surgery stories – and photos – online.  Read more about whether or not it’s a good idea to tell friends you’re having cosmetic surgery – including sharing your cosmetic surgery experiences on Instagram or Facebook. This blog (2 of 3) reflects further about telling others you’re having cosmetic surgery, such as WORK COLLEAGUES, and whether patients can apply for MEDICAL LEAVE/SICK LEAVE. So…CAN you use Medical Leave or Sick Leave to have cosmetic surgery? And what are some tips about telling colleagues and friends?

So – can I use Sick Leave for cosmetic surgery?

The brief overview first, but further tips and details are listed below.

  • It often depends on your sick leave policy AND the reason you’re having surgery.
  • Some elective procedures, such as purely cosmetic surgery, may not meet your sick leave policy requirements.
  • For other surgery procedures, such as corrective plastic surgery for breathing problems relating to a nose injury (Rhinoplasty), or repair to torn abs after pregnancy (Diastasis Recti repair), they may meet medical-needs criteria that makes them eligible for a minor medicare rebate/health fund insurance rebate.
  • Corrective vs cosmetic procedures MAY be seen by colleagues as ‘being a more important reason to be off work’ than an elective procedure – but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to YOU and YOUR well-being.
  • Read more below, including more details about telling colleagues.

But in general, “Can I use sick leave for cosmetic surgery?” The answer is you’ll need to check with your work policy or Human Resources Department to be sure.

  • Working out when it’s best to be off work – request a guide by calling 1300 264 811 and asking for the 7 Steps to Successful Surgery/Plastic Surgery Planning Guide.
  • Note that your MEDICAL LEAVE CERTIFICATE will be from your DOCTOR/SURGEON.
  • A Medical Certificate does NOT typically have the reason you’re off work for privacy reasons. It is typically generic, and usually says “is off work for a certain period of time for a medical condition.”

The clinic name is often NOT on your Medical certificate, but your Surgeon’s name usually is.

  • If your human resource manager wanted to look up who the Surgeon was, or what type of Surgeon they were – they might be able to, or they might recognise the type of Surgeon it is.
  • However, such information or inquiries would likely breach your work policy and other medical privacy laws.

How to find out if you can use Sick Leave for the type of Plastic Surgery you’re having.

sick-leave-for-cosmetic-surgery-plastic.jpg August 26, 2018
  • Ask our NURSES about a Medical Leave Certificate and what it looks like.
  • You may already have requested one for your consultations or pre-surgery check-ups.
  • Read your Sick Leave Policy and make an assessment on coverage.
  • Then check or verify with your H.R. Department to find out what your sick leave policy will cover (or not).

Should you tell your work colleagues you’re having cosmetic surgery or a plastic surgery procedure?

  • Again, it’s an individual decision as covered in our first blog on pros and cons of telling friends and/or sharing photos on social media.
  • It often depends on your comfort levels with sharing your information, which takes into account the culture at your office, the demographics of your colleagues and their views on what you’re having done – and whether or not you care about people who may have different views than you do.
  • It’s a very personal decision and should be made with thought and deliberation; don’t suddenly blurt out you’re having a breast procedure during Friday afternoon drinks.
  • Consider WHO to tell, WHEN and WHAT to tell – and make a thoughtful decision.
  • Know that in modern times, telling your friends means nearly everyone else may know anyway – it’s human nature, and few people are actually really good at keeping secrets.

Sometimes your WORK COLLEAGUES are also in your CLOSE CIRCLE of FRIENDS.

  • Many people have friends in their offices and University settings.
  • So telling friends may mean that your work colleagues or study mates inherently know you’re having cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery.
  • They may inadvertently let others know; so choose who you tell carefully.

So what, exactly are the BENEFITS and PITFALLS of telling work colleagues – or your friends – that you’re having a cosmetic surgery/plastic surgery procedure?

If you want to post photos about your experiences, just remember, digital is extremely long term and readily shareable across the globe.

  • If you share anything, friends, family and your colleagues may find out, even if you try to be discreet or use an alias.
  • Ask Meghan Markle about a blog that was reportedly linked to her in the distant past.

Below, we discuss sharing surgery news with colleagues and deciding which friends to tell, – and whether or not it’s a good idea.

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More PROS of telling friends you’re having cosmetic surgery – even if they’re work colleagues.

  • Everyone needs support before, and especially immediately after, having surgery.
  • Your inner circle of close friends or family members, if aware you’re having surgery, CAN be a good support system for you in your healing and recovery period.
  • And you WILL want some good help as you heal!
  • If your colleagues also know, and they are good friends or allies, they may be helpful to cover your tasks while you’re away and be supportive of your reasons.
  • Not all others WILL support your decisions, however – make sure you are comfortable with the responses of others by being comfortable and well-informed about your procedure, Surgeon and surgery risks – including choosing a bonafide plastic surgeon for your procedure (rather than a purely cosmetic surgeon who might be just a GP).
  • Watch the ABC’s Four Corners Cosmetic Surgery Industry report about less trained doctors who were operating in Sydney, but were not Specialist Plastic Surgeons.

How friends help you after Surgery

  • Friends can bring you cups of tea, look after your children, cats or dogs as you heal, water the plants, and drive you to your after surgery review appointments.
  • BUT – friends will ONLY be helpful for your recovery period IF they are truly on your side about your surgery decisions, and support you in your choices.
  • If your friends are not supportive, they will tend to question your reasons, and your decision making, rather than reassure you when you need it most.
  • And you are apt to need reassurance when you’re first out of surgery, swollen or uncomfortable, and not sleeping well. When you’re experiencing that roller coaster ride of mixed emotions after surgery due to lack of sleep, or medication effects, and feeling emotional as you’re recovering from the Anaesthetic (the first few weeks after surgery, in particular).

CONS of telling FRIENDS you’re having cosmetic surgery.

  • If your friends are jealous or very ‘socially share-y’, they may blab to everyone – including that cute new guy or new girl on the beach – that you’ve had a boob job or had your nose reshaped, or had male breast reduction surgery.
  • If your friends become frenemys, they may share your confidential BEFORE photos with people you rather they didn’t. It’s always a risk, especially for friendships of less than 5 years OR amongst people under 40.
  • If your friends want cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery, but can’t afford it yet, they may feel envious that you were able to, but they could not. (Tell them to phone 1300 264 811 to request a Funding & Payment Guide or to look into Super for Surgery).

Do recognise there’s typically some polarity in personal and public opinions about having cosmetic surgery.

  • If this potentially impacts your WORK relationships with colleagues or your Supervisor, who MIGHT resent the fact you’re away for an elective procedure – you may be better off using discretion about what you do and DO NOT say.
  • Of course, if you share ANYTHING on your social media pages – including HOSPITAL check-in status updates – it’s usually going to get back to at least one of your colleagues.
  • And if ONE colleague or ONE friend knows – it may soon be nearly everyone in your circle.
  • If you want to keep surgery a secret, be sure you only tell people you KNOW you can TRUST to NEVER reveal your secret – not even years or decades later.
  • These people are rare and may not exist, and even friends can turn to “frenemies.”
  • BUT if you want to be open about surgery, and you’re confident in your decision, then there’s likely to be a positive response from many people who understand how the FEELING about HOW WE LOOK impacts everything from CONFIDENCE to COMFORT, to SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you – there’s no one answer or right and wrong about telling colleagues you’re having surgery.

Every person, every work situation and every friendship is different.

The key factor is how comfortable you ARE with your decision, and how comfortable you ARE facing opposite opinions about your decisions (or colleagues grumbling about you being away for a very personal type of elective operation).

If you take contrasting opinions personally, you could find it difficult when someone challenges your decisions. This is especially likely if you’re in the process of healing and recovery and feeling a bit sorry for yourself, and someone else is being negative.

  • If you recognise this, you can be prepared for it.
  • If you’re prepared for it, you can NOT let it throw you in your personal decision making.
  • Remind yourself that during the initial healing stages of elective surgery, nearly everyone questions if they did the right thing; but several months later, after healing, a large majority are happy they went through with it (not everyone, but many – especially for breast reduction surgery, tummy tucks and skin reduction after weight loss).

Sometime’s it a good idea to talk with other plastic surgery patients who’ve been through it. And ask them how they handled flack from parents, friends or partners who weren’t on board.


Time off from Work: The Pros and Cons of Telling Colleagues You Are Having Cosmetic Surgery.

Can you use sick leave for cosmetic surgery procedures? More information

Let’s discuss sick leave first.

  • The answer to using sick leave for cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery is that Sick Leave policies vary from company to company.
  • Typically, sick leave applies to necessary medical procedures rather than elective ones, but check your company’s sick leave policy or speak to your manager.
  • If you have a functional reason for having the cosmetic procedure, you may be eligible (e.g., breast reduction to alleviate chronic back pain, neck pain or shoulder pain; or eyelid lift surgery to see better).

Ask your manager if you feel comfortable doing so, as you may be able to use some sick leave OR your annual leave, or a combination of both (or unpaid leave).

If you can, try to tidy up any backlogs at the office before you go on leave to have Surgery – this can help.


If nothing else, it clears your mind so you can focus on resting, recovering and healing after your procedure.

Contact us for the guide about Coping with Recovery at Home after surgery by phoning 1300 264 811 if you’re planning to have surgery in the near future.

Should you tell your Work Mates You’re Having Plastic Surgery or tell them you’re going away on holiday?

PROS of telling COLLEAGUES about having Plastic Surgery or Cosmetic Surgery.

  • If you tell work colleagues and your manager you’re having surgery, even if you don’t reveal what type of surgery it is, there is a benefit to being honest versus pretending you’re away on holidays or at a funeral.
  • They may reveal they had the same surgery or similar experience (or similar appearance concerns).
  • They might bring you a meal or drop off flowers, or lend you a great book to read – or film to watch – during your healing and recovery period.

In other words, if you tell your colleagues (or if they do allow you to use sick leave for cosmetic surgery), then you won’t have to pretend you’re doing this:

Or this:

posting photos of cosmetic surgery, videos, remember overseas dangers of medical tourism

When you’re actually doing this:


And when you’ll soon be doing this:


And this:

how long will I be in hospital after cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery

And this:

And this:


And not this:


And not this:


Or this – at least until you’re fully healed and recovered:


CONS of telling COLLEAGUES about having Plastic Surgery

  • Some colleagues may NOT be supportive that you’re having an elective cosmetic surgery procedure.
  • Some may have very strong views about cosmetic surgery and other enhancements and cultural values.
  • If your absence causes extra workloads for your colleagues, they might also resent the fact you’ve taken off of work for something THEY deem as ‘optional’ as it’s cosmetic, but YOU feel is ‘important.’ (And sometimes, it’s NOT just cosmetic, it’s functional and necessary to repair pregnancy-related damage).
  • If you DO share that you’re using your sick leave to have cosmetic surgery, depending on your sick leave policy at the office, you MIGHT be asked to use your annual leave or unpaid leave instead.

Again, it depends on your company’s Sick Leave policy.

Many policies don’t cover elective medical procedures as being eligible for sick leave, but it does vary.

Functional plastic surgery (repair of diastasis recti after pregnancy due to abdominal damage, or eyelid lift surgery to reduce ptosis interfering with your vision) may be easier for some colleagues to support than purely cosmetic (like a Rhinoplasty), unless they, too, are unhappy with their appearance.

Other considerations with telling your Manager or colleagues about having cosmetic surgery or asking about using Sick Leave

  • Social norms and culturally influenced beauty standards – such as regional differences in preferences of breast implant sizes  – CAN be polarising in terms of values and gender-related discussions.
  • Colleagues and friends alike may affirm they find you perfect as you are (and you are, yet if you’re not happy with your appearance or feel out of balance, or have damaged muscles or stretchy skin, you may feel MUCH more comfortable with yourself if you make desired changes).

Other considerations with telling your Manager or colleagues about having cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery

  • If you work in a very male-dominated industry and are having breast implant surgery, even in highly politically correct environments, you still might notice comments being made about your breast implants.
  • If you end up looking better than your colleagues, appearance jealousy IS possible – it’s a real thing.


Yet some plastic surgery procedures are both functional AND cosmetic, such as a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) to repair torn abs so you can exercise properly after having babies, or a breast reduction to reduce back, neck and shoulder pain.

Handling negative feedback on your surgery decision

  • If it’s a family member, or friend who wants you to travel with them, they may think about the expenses; or alternative purchases; but that’s more about THEM, and surgery is all about YOU.
  • If you have non-supportive friends or family members, you can aim to educate them, bring them to appointments and so on, as well as explain the underlying reasons you want to have something altered via surgical means.
  • In most social circles, you’ll have at least one to three friends – or more – who either HAD their own surgery OR who support you.  Choose your support circle wisely.

But if a friend or family member seems dead set against you having plastic surgery, YET you’re convinced you want to – and you feel you are having the right surgery at the right time of your life, by the right surgeon, in the right facility, as well as having the right mindset about going through surgery and healing and recovery, THEN you may just have to choose your support system with extreme care.

Remember, cosmetic surgery should ONLY be done to please yourself; never anyone else. So make an informed decision about telling friends or colleagues you’re having cosmetic surgery.

  • If surgery such as a breast augmentation or Mummy Makeover is something you really want and
  • If you understand the process, costs, risks and recovery, and
  • If you’ve done your research into cosmetic surgery procedures and healing times, then
  • You’ll be making an informed and educated, thought-out choice.
  • Plus there’s a seven day cooling off period, anyway.
  • It’s not something you should rush, but delaying it to where you’re unhappy with your physique or facial ageing for years to come, may not be in your best interest either.

And at the end of the day, it’s YOU, your body or face or breasts or nose, your skin, and your LIFE ….and you get to decide what to choose for it.

  • Surround yourself with a good support system – and avoid the naysayers until after you’ve fully healed.
  • Especially if you are someone who develops an infection or other complication or delayed healing (some patients will experience complications, and it isn’t predictable), then you definitely don’t want any surgery-negative people around you as you’re healing. They won’t help your state of mind, and getting rest and being peaceful is beneficial for healing – avoid stress!

So why are MORE people sharing their BEFORE and/or AFTER photos and surgery experiences on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat?

Sharing photos of our bodies and faces, when we feel we look great (or lucked into a great photo of ourselves by what we feel is a fluke event – or opportunistic lighting), is part of human nature.

Social media popularity, in fact, reflects our innate brain wiring as to:

  • how VISUALLY oriented humans ARE as a species
  • how SOCIALLY COMMUNICATIVE we are, by nature
  • why we CARE so much about SOCIAL acceptance and SOCIAL PROOF

Read recent articles about selfies and plastic surgery trends, but DO know that wanting to look better has been around for as long as there have been portrait painters and mirrors.

We actually ARE all of these things, as human beings, although to different degrees.

At least in the digital realm of communication. We do, however, seem to have fallen down on REAL life engagement – and we’re often overly distracted by our phones and social media pages (including FOLLOWERS and post LIKES).


Sharing photos and videos of ourselves, the ubiquitous selfie phenomenon, also reflects our cultural norms. This isn’t really different when it comes to having surgery. In fact, some claim the selfie trend has led to increased demand for plastic surgery to look better or compete in tougher job markets.

  • The only main difference to the past, however, is about our openness to discuss what we have had done, electively.
  • We are not shy about revealing that we got a bit of help in the appearance improvement department.
  • We no longer need to pretend we came by our balanced body or our great nose by birth; with cosmetic surgery, even Rhinoplasty surgery and cosmetic injections, no longer ‘secret business.’

WHY more people are posting photos and videos of cosmetic surgery in modern times: Synopsis

  • Some share photos and videos because they are VERY PROUD of their new physique or facial features – and they feel really great about how they look after healing from plastic surgery.
  • Others share images and videos because they desire to educate others about what it’s really like to have had a plastic surgery procedure.
  • Others are trying to build their networks or gain a YouTube V-logger Celebrity Type of following.

And YES, most people considering cosmetic surgery DO tend to be doing a lot of cosmetic surgery research and seeking genuine stories from real patients. (If that’s you, visit our GUIDES page and register for one of our monthly events).

So they then want to share their OWN experiences, later, given they too relied on others sharing photos when they began their research into their cosmetic surgery options.

And there are many other reasons. Remember, no two humans are alike.

So now you have a few ideas about whether or not to tell your friends, and whether or not to share the news online or with colleagues. There is NO right or wrong, but DO be tasteful if you do share, and remember, these decisions should be well thought out and carefully made.

Additional reading:

If you want more information on recovering from Surgery, or any of our FREE guides to surgery, phone us on 1300 264 811 for more information.

Last updated: 08/05/2022
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:

Coco Ruby’s Specialist Plastic and ENT Surgeons

With a wealth of experience and training, our Specialist Plastic Surgeons are dedicated to best practice patient care and education, customising Breast Enlargement Surgery for each and every patient to best meet their needs and desired surgical outcomes.

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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 264 811, Email us: or Book a FREE 15-minute Phone Chat with our Patient Liaison Manager or a Virtual 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.