Will a nose surgery change my life?

"If I'm prettier and look younger, my life will be different. I'll be happy, my husband will find me attractive again, I'll be successful in my job and I'll have lots of money and lots of friends."

Yes, and I'm the tooth fairy. And Michael Jackson is my friend.

But seriously, many people believe that plastic surgery can bring them happiness.

"And sometimes, this can be the case," says Cape Town psychologist, Ilse Terblanche. "If someone's life is affected, or activities curtailed, as a result of a physical characteristic, an operation can bring about great change. For instance, in the case of someone who has huge breasts and cannot take part in sport because of them, an operation will make a difference. Or someone who has endured years of teasing about having a really weak chin."

"But often, people get fixated on what they perceive as a physical defect, and it gets blamed for everything that goes wrong in their lives. This preoccupation with a perceived or real defect can take over someone's life to the point of interfering with their normal functioning."

"These perceived defects are often facial – not surprising in a society where so much value is attached to physical appearance. In societies where appearance is less highly prized, it is very unusual for people to become obsessed with a perceived physical defect."

"In cases where someone's unhappiness with their appearance leads to their undergoing multiple surgery, even though they appeared fine to everyone else, they could be suffering from what is called 'Body dysmorphic disorder'. This diagnosis is usually made when someone is fixated on perceived physical shortcomings, and is convinced that if they were corrected, everything in their life would fall into place."

So what are the things you should consider before deciding on having plastic surgery?

Why you want to do this. If you're doing this, because you think it's going to change your whole life, you should think twice. Because it won't. But if you already feel good about yourself and have a fair amount of self-confidence, but feel that you would feel even better with a slight physical improvement, to make you look less old or tired, it might be a good idea to go ahead.

So what's been happening in your life? If you have recently experienced trauma or changes in your life, now is not the time for cosmetic surgery. If your spouse has died, or you've moved to a new city, or your kids have left home, deal with that first, and then reconsider surgery. No surgery can take away the emotional pain you're experiencing. Recovering from surgery of any kind can really take it out of you. Wait until you feel strong enough to deal with this. And make sure your support system is in place. It may take a while before you can be self-sufficient again.

From dragon to darling in a day. So what are your expectations of this surgery? If you're expecting it to make your sexy neighbour fall in love with you or to make you get that promotion you've had your eye on, dream on. And remember, a plastic surgeon has to work with what you've got. He can change your nose slightly, but he can't turn it into Claudia Schiffer's. Have you got a clear idea of what you want?

No guarantees. All surgery carries risks of infection, blood loss and the side effects of anaesthesia. And also, there are no guarantees of success. Your nose may be flat after surgery, but it may be assymetrical. Think of Michael Jackson.

Paying through your nose. Surgery doesn't come cheap. Unless it's really essential, or you can definitely afford it, don't even consider it. Most medical aids will pay for reconstructive surgery after car accidents, but they will not pay for a tummy tuck. A nose job is not something you want to pay off for years to come.

In the hands of your doctor. Do you trust this person? Do you feel he/she is being honest with you? How much experience does this person have in doing this operation? Did you get to him/her by means of a recommendation? After all, you are putting your face and your life in this person's hands.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24)

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