If you're getting older and don't like the changes that age has made to your skin, you might be wondering whether it's time to get a facelift, eyelid surgery or jaw lift. These cosmetic procedures are fairly popular and can be tempting. However, they also come with a host of problems, including cost, potential side effects and complications, pain, recovery time and many more. While cosmetic surgery may be the only thing that can help some people look younger, most people have other options. Here's why you should look at diet, lifestyle changes, supplements and many other anti-aging treatments before you go under the knife.
Unless you've been in an accident or have suffered disfigurement as the result of a disease or other medical problem, your insurance probably won't pay for your cosmetic surgery. That means you'll be stuck covering the cost of the surgery and any other related expenses out of pocket. Anti-aging procedures aren't cheap, either. The average cost of a facelift in 2011, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, was $6,408. That number does not cover consultations, preparation appointments or the cost of any necessary revisions.
For a blepharoplasty, or removal of excess eyelid skin, you can expect to pay about $2,600, while a forehead lift costs about $3,100 on average. Lip augmentation comes with a fee of $1,827 on average, while an arm lift costs $3,790. For these fees, you can purchase significantly more non-surgical cosmetic intervention, as well as numerous gym memberships, skin protection products and moisturizers.
Like any surgical procedure, cosmetic surgery comes with a risk of complications. These can include swelling, discoloration, bruising, blood clots and bleeding, infection and dying skin. The area may not look the way you wanted it to; your surgery may produce unattractive scarring, divots, puckers, dimples and other irregularities in the skin. In some cases, you may partially or completely lose your sense of touch in the area where the surgery was performed. Temporary paralysis due to painkillers and anesthesia may occur shortly after surgery.
Specific anti-aging surgeries all come with their own risks. For instance, eyelid surgery may cause a tight feeling around the eyelids, as well as itching, numbness or burning sensations. You may tear up easily, feel like your eyes are very sensitive to light or suffer from blurred or double vision. These problems usually go away; but blepharoplasty does carry a very small risk of blindness.
Facelifts can produce bruising, numbness, dry skin and tenderness shortly after the procedure. Men can often have difficulty shaving and may find that some skin that previously produced beard hair is now located behind their ears, creating the need to shave this unusual location. Potential long-term complications include loss of the ability to feel or control your facial muscles. Some people suffer from nerve damage, while other people develop an asymmetrical hairline after this kind of procedure.
Since most anti-aging plastic surgery procedures are performed on sensitive areas of the body, such as the face, pain can be a major problem. While you will be under general anesthesia during the surgery, you may experience extreme discomfort after this wears off. For a facelift, you can expect swelling and pain starting the day after the surgery, and may need to take prescription painkillers for a week or two, followed by over the counter painkillers for several weeks. Smaller surgeries, such as blepharoplasty, can be almost as painful as large ones, since they are performed on delicate skin. In some rare cases, patients experience long-term pain, with some people suffering from pain for up to a year after a facelift.
Cosmetic surgery is relatively safe, but not completely so. If you decide to undergo an elective surgical procedure, you're putting your life on the line. Some people who are placed under general anesthesia simply don't wake up afterward. It's also possible to experience airway obstruction from anesthesia, which can produce brain damage or death if not treated right away. If blockage of the airway occurs, the anesthesiologist may have to cut into your throat or insert a tube to ensure that you continue breathing.
Patients who experience blood clots during or after surgery are also at significant risk. The blood clots can come loose and block a vein or artery, potentially causing a stroke or heart attack. Some people experience sudden drops in blood pressure that can cause heart irregularities and cardiac arrest. Untreated infections after surgery can become severe and dangerous in some cases, making it a good idea to consider all other options before you choose cosmetic surgery to help you look younger.
Plastic surgery can be a big time commitment. Having these types of procedure done can take you out of work for weeks at a time and confine you to your bed for days. During the recovery process, you can expect swelling, bruising, numbness and other temporary side effects. It may be difficult to engage in normal activities during the recovery process.
Even though cosmetic surgery is relatively safe for most people, it's not a viable option for everyone. You can't use plastic surgery to look younger if you are a heavy smoker or someone who has high blood pressure. You may also be considered a poor candidate if you are extremely obese, due to the increased risk of death under anesthesia.
Cosmetic surgery is also contraindicated for people who have poorly treated or untreated diabetes, some people with allergies, and patients who have some pre-existing mental conditions. Many medications are also considered risky during surgery and may need to be discontinued before you can have this kind of procedure.
Fortunately, cosmetic surgery isn't the only option for people who would like to look younger. There are many different alternatives, some of them inexpensive and natural, which can produce modest anti-aging effects. They can even boost your overall health. It's usually a good idea to try at least some of these alternatives to surgery before you decide to consult with a doctor.
One of the easiest options includes improving your lifestyle. Simply by taking the time to get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet and increase your intake of water, you could reduce or even eliminate some fine lines and wrinkles. Other factors that you might need to address include drinking, smoking and stress, all of which can make you look much older and more tired. You can even help avoid wrinkles and other signs of aging by protecting your skin from the damaging rays of the sun.
Other natural options for people who want to avoid plastic surgery while taking off a few years include vitamin and anti-oxidant supplements, regular use of moisturizers and exfoliants, and anti-aging products containing retinol and other vitamin A derivatives. For some people who have pre-existing conditions, hormone treatment may be helpful, but this kind of anti-aging treatment can be dangerous if taken without a doctor's supervision.
No one should feel as though plastic surgery is the only option when it comes to looking younger. There are many reasons to make this kind of extreme procedure your last choice. Take a little time to check out your other options and find the best anti-aging treatment for your situation before you call the surgeon.