Tending to Emotional Health after Plastic Surgery

People who are considering a plastic surgery procedure often enter into their process expecting to feel quite different afterward. They picture themselves looking amazing and feeling happy, confident, and super satisfied with their decision. While the vast majority of patients do feel this way, it isn’t a given. Some patients struggle with unexpected feelings of doubt or even regret after undergoing a plastic surgery procedure. This isn’t because they don’t like their results, it is simply a normal byproduct of surgery that can affect any patient. The postoperative blues are not limited to plastic surgery, it is a state that can affect any person who has surgery. Talking about it can do a lot to prevent or lessen it. 

Postoperative Sadness: What’s It All About?

The postoperative blues have been noted in a wide range of patients. Strong emotional reactions have been seen in patients who have undergone complicated procedures such as open heart surgery, but they can also occur with less invasive procedures. It is believed that postoperative sadness could stem from the physical effects of the procedure itself, as well as the discomfort that occurs afterward. It can also be difficult to rely on others for basic support after having surgery, even with the knowledge that doing so is temporary. 

The feelings that one may have after plastic surgery are not much unlike postpartum depression. In each situation, the biggest challenge may be that one expects to feel happy and is expected by others to feel happy and they do not understand why they don’t. This type of sadness may present as:

  • Irritability and a heightened emotional state
  • Feelings of regret or second-guessing the decision to have surgery
  • Anxiety about the healing process or how life will be after recovery
  • Missing one’s normal routine during the recovery process

Reducing the Risk of Postoperative Sadness

Knowing that postoperative sadness is possible, it is beneficial to address the situation mindfully. Before surgery, it can be helpful to manage expectations with clear communication. Talk to the plastic surgeon about:

  • What you will look like immediately after surgery and as you heal. 
  • How long it may take for surgical side effects to resolve. 
  • What is normal and not normal during recovery (when should you call the office).

Also, before surgery, plan for a comfortable recovery. Prepare meals or arrange a take-out list of food that can be delivered to your home. Prepare a list of entertaining distractions to prevent boredom when you are not sleeping (which you should do a lot of for a few days). It can also be helpful to write affirmations down ahead of time to read daily, or to make a vision board to remind you of your motivation for having surgery. 

After plastic surgery, good company is one of the best ways to avoid the blues. If you cannot have friends or family come to visit, schedule video chats or phone calls. Even a text chain can keep you connected with friends and loved ones who are supportive of your decision. Healing occurs better with a nutrient dense diet and plenty of hydration. Drinking a lot of water can also help prevent constipation that can occur due to prescription pain medication. 

We are committed to compassionate patient care that achieves excellent results. To schedule a consultation at our Houston or Sugar Land office, call 713.271.9000.

Posted in: Plastic Surgery