Cosmetic surgery: a realistic approach

Posted on 1 January 2023

Thinking of adding cosmetic surgery to your list of New Year’s resolutions? A plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Mediclinic Sandton answers the questions you may not have thought to ask.

New year, new you! Cosmetic surgery can change your quality of life for the better. But if you go in with unrealistic expectations, you could wind up disappointed. Dr Himal Sooka, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Mediclinic Sandton, has the low-down.

Consider your options

A wide range of cosmetic procedures are available; some surgical and some non-surgical. The most popular non-surgical procedures Dr Sooka performs are dermal fillers, wrinkle-relaxing injections (commonly known as Botox) and collagen-stimulating injections for facial rejuvenation. Common surgical procedures he performs are body-contouring procedures, such as liposuction and tummy tucks, as well as cosmetic breast surgery.

Find what works for you

You may have a particular cosmetic procedure in mind, but rather focus on the outcome you’re looking for and let the surgeon guide you regarding the best option for you. “A common misconception is that certain procedures and their results are applicable to everyone,” says Dr Sooka. “Each patient is different and the choice of procedure to address their needs and achieve their goals may vary. A clinical consultation is essential to determine the necessary procedure, as well as what can be achieved.” 

Results aren’t instant

Sadly, you’re not going to wake from cosmetic surgery ready to take your new self out on the town. “People often underestimate the immediacy with which the final result is achieved after cosmetic surgery,” cautions Dr Sooka. “Most procedures take months to settle and improve before you’re able to see the outcome. Swelling may take three to six months to resolve, and scars can take 12-18 months to soften and fade.” Be patient – the results will be worth the wait.

You may not be a candidate for cosmetic surgery

Not everyone can have cosmetic surgery. These are some of the factors that may rule it out for you:

Underlying conditions. “Patients who have underlying medical conditions such as lung or heart problems may not be candidates for surgery,” says Dr Sooka. “The stress of surgery may inadvertently cause worsening of these conditions, with disastrous results.”

Smoking. Smokers are also not candidates, due to the increased risk of complications.

Obesity. Obese people with a BMI above 30 will first need to lose enough weight – both for safety reasons and to ensure the success of the procedure.

Keloids. If you’re prone to keloids (abnormal fibrous tissue formed at the site of a scar), cosmetic surgery is not for you, as there’s usually some scarring. However, keloids and hypertrophic scars (a thick raised scar in response to wound healing) are often confused, says Dr Sooka. Patients who have hypertrophic scars may still be able to have cosmetic surgery, he adds, but “a consultation with your plastic surgeon would be necessary to determine if a scar is a keloid or a hypertrophic scar”.

There is homework involved

Cosmetic surgery is not a quick fix. For the best possible outcome, you need to do your part. “Having a stable weight, as well as a healthy diet and exercise regimen will optimise the recovery process as well as enhance the aesthetic result,” says Dr Sooka. You also need to allow yourself some downtime. “Postoperative recovery usually involves a period of rest, as well as avoiding strenuous activities and exercise until the recovery is complete,” he adds.

There are a number of cosmetic surgery procedures available on the Mediclinic Fixed Fees programme, including breast surgeries, tummy tuck, liposuction, eyelid procedures and more. Some procedures will involve a short hospital stay, while others can be performed at a day clinic.


Published in Expertise

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