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5 things to consider before reconstructive or plastic surgery

October 29, 2019
5 things to consider before reconstructive or plastic surgery

By Mahsa Moghaddam Smoot, MD

Any surgery, including reconstructive and elective cosmetic surgery, has risks and the potential for complications. If you are healthy to begin with, it will improve your overall experience.

Here are five things to consider if you are thinking about having a cosmetic or reconstructive procedure.


1. Your overall health

Good candidates for reconstructive or cosmetic surgery are women and men who are:

  • - physically healthy and at a stable weight

  • - have realistic expectations

  • - nonsmokers

If you are working on losing a substantial amount of weight or planning a pregnancy, consider postponing your surgery until you have reached your goals. Losing weight before surgery will reduce your risk of complications and significant fluctuations in weight after surgery will diminish the effects of the procedure.

2. Your mindset

The right mindset is key to a successful experience. Reconstructive or cosmetic surgery is not something you need, but rather a personal choice that is going to help you feel better about yourself. You can be the best version of yourself without reconstructive or cosmetic surgery, but if you feel something is bothering you enough to consider surgery, then you have made an important first step.

Reconstructive and cosmetic surgery can improve your quality of life, however, as with any surgical procedure, a lot of thought should go into making a final decision. Surgery has risks, recovery takes time, and you may require multiple procedures. Reconstructive surgery is not going to make you into a better version of yourself and it will not solve problems in other areas of your life.

3. Your doctor’s qualifications

Is your surgeon board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) or by the American Board of Facial Plastic Surgery (ABFPS)? Don’t be confused by other official sounding boards and certifications.

In Minnesota, any doctor may advertise themselves as a cosmetic physician and there is no certifying board with “cosmetic surgery” in its name. Although these “cosmetic doctors” may have taken courses to expand their scope of practice, these courses are not the same as a six-year accredited surgical training program. By choosing an ABPS-certified surgeon you can be assured you are choosing a qualified, highly-trained plastic surgeon who will work in a licensed surgical facility with licensed anesthesiologists, nurses and other health care team members you can trust.

During your surgery consultation, ask your surgeon about his or her experience with specific procedures. My colleagues and I have a broad range of experiences and interests, and we are a team who seeks your best interests. I will be open and honest with you, and if one of my colleagues has more experience in a procedure you are interested in, I will offer you an opportunity to meet with them.

4. Your recovery

The amount of time you’ll need to take off work and your activity restrictions will vary depending on your procedure, how long surgery takes, if you’ll have a hospital stay and the type of anesthesia used. Sometimes achieving your goals may involve more than one procedure to refine the results. Following your post-op instructions will ensure a smoother recovery and a better result. If your recovery requires you not to lift or strain for a few weeks after surgery, it’s important to have support available to help you with your daily activities. For example, you may need to arrange for help lifting groceries, driving, cleaning, caring for your children and meal preparation.

Healing takes time. It may take up to six months after surgery for you to truly see your results. It is important to time your surgery based on your lifestyle and your priorities. Do not plan major events (weddings, beach vacations, etc.) shortly after surgery as you may not be at your best yet.

5. The overall cost

Most cosmetic procedures are considered out-of-pocket expenses and reconstructive surgery may covered by your insurance depending on your plan. If cost is a concern, ask about financing options. Beware of medical tourism and low-cost claims to travel outside of the US for reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Take into account all the considerations I have mentioned here, including your care team’s experience and expertise, costs including travel and recovery, plus safety and risk prior to making a final decision. Your health is your greatest asset. Choose wisely.


Learn more

To learn more about reconstructive and plastic surgery at St. Francis, click here.


Mahsa Moghaddam Smoot, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing all aspects of plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Her interests include pediatric surgery, breast reduction/lift/reconstruction, post-bariatric surgery body contouring, facial reconstruction, post-cancer reconstruction and facial aesthetic surgery. Learn more about Dr. Smoot here.