Whether it’s a quirk of nature or the work of time, many of us decide that what we see in the mirror could be a whole lot better. Cosmetic surgery is so much more accessible these days, it’s certainly not just for the rich and famous – and it can work wonders for one’s self-confidence. Still, it’s a big investment, and not a step to be taken lightly. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Find a Good Cosmetic Surgeon Locally

While it may be tempting to become a “surgery tourist” because of low-priced offers in far-flung corners of the world, it’s a risky business. There have been some horror stories that should certainly make you think twice about a “saving” that could end up in disfigurement or worse. Start by finding a local cosmetic surgeon that you can trust. You’ll get better information, the best quality of care, and reliable aftercare in case of complications. 

2. A Good Surgeon will Talk About Risks: Listen Carefully

A surgeon is not a salesman. He or she will tell you about the benefits – and the risks – of the procedure you’re considering. Remember that your first consultation isn’t a commitment to surgery. It’s an exploratory visit in which you’ll get all the information you need to think things through before you decide whether to take the plunge. Pay careful attention to what the doctor says and consider silence on the subject of possible downsides as a red flag. 

3. Be Realistic in Your Expectations

During your first consultation, talk to your cosmetic surgeon about what you want to achieve. In return, your surgeon will explain which procedures would be required to get the desired result, and whether what you want is possible. In most instances, you’re looking at small changes that boost your overall image rather than radical transformations that leave you unrecognizable. How satisfied you are will depend on how realistic your expectations were.

4. Think About Your Finances

Unless you’re very wealthy, the cost of your procedure will be a weighty consideration. Your insurance won’t cover most types of cosmetic surgery, so you’ll have to get the necessary funds together yourself. How badly will it affect your household budget? Can you still cope financially after footing the bill? An improvement in your appearance at the cost of your peace of mind simply isn’t worth it. Once you’ve decided whether you can afford your surgery, you’re ready for the next round of serious thinking. 

5. Can You Handle the Recovery Process?

Some procedures require a length recovery post-surgery. For example, a tummy tuck usually takes at least six weeks for basic recovery, and you may feel the aftereffects for as long as six months. Once again, it’s up to you to decide whether your lifestyle can handle this initial setback and whether you think it’s worth doing at all. Your doctor should be frank about your expected recovery time and the amount of physical discomfort it will entail. 

Don’t Feel Pressured. It’s About What You Want

Opting for cosmetic surgery is a very personal decision. Forget about what other people want or expect from your appearance and think about what you really want. If your budget and lifestyle can handle the consequences of having some work done and you’re happy with the results your cosmetic surgeon can offer, go ahead! If you have any concerns or feelings of hesitancy, it might be best to consider giving the whole thing a miss. You might find that other people don’t notice your imperfections as much as you thought they did!