Kaley Cuoco did it—but should you?
Breasts, nose, neck: Actress Kaley Cuoco has had all of these body parts surgically altered. The 31-year-old actress had no qualms about sharing her plastic surgery past with us recently, calling her boob job the best thing she’d ever done for herself. “I don’t think you should do it for a man or anyone else, but if it makes you feel confident, that’s amazing,” she says.
With an endorsement like that, we wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to take a page from her playbook and call a plastic surgeon right this second. But it’s important to remember that plastic surgery can be life changing (for better or worse), so it’s not a decision to make lightly. To help you decide, two top celebrity plastic surgeons share what critical questions you need to answer before going under the knife:
1. When was your last growth spurt?
“It doesn’t make sense to perform elective surgery on a body that’s still growing and changing,” says Ryan Neinstein, M.D., a New York City-based board-certified plastic surgeon. “Your body height, weight, and breast size should stay the same for at least a year before seriously considering anything.”
2. What exactly do you want the surgery to correct?
You should have a very specific idea of what you want fixed, says Eugene Elliott, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. Neinstein says that the happiest plastic surgery patients are those who use it to fix a specific issue and who are doing it as a way to normalize their body, not necessarily enhance it.
So if you know you want rhinoplasty—a.k.a. a nose job—to balance your facial features and help you breathe better, or you want a breast reduction to help relieve discomfort, that’s fine. But if you’re just looking to make a change that will make you feel better, that’s a red flag. “You shouldn’t come in if you just have a broad sense of disliking yourself,” says Elliott. “Despite popular belief, plastic surgery isn’t a cure for a low self-image.” Really drill down into what issues you’re consistently dealing with, then look into whether plastic surgery can solve the problem and enhance your quality of life.
3. Why do you want plastic surgery?
Your motivation for permanently changing your body can make the difference between a successful result and lifelong regret, says Neinstein. “You should never change yourself to keep a boyfriend, fit in your social circle, look like a celebrity, or in response to a major event (like a divorce or job loss),” he says. “The best reasons are because it’s something you’ve been thinking about for a long time and you want to do it for yourself.”
4. What are you expecting?
If you’re dreaming of Kaley’s abs or Angelina Jolie’s lips, you can forget it. The point, both doctors say, is to make you a better version of you. “Many women go into plastic surgery with very unrealistic expectations of both the effects it will have on their looks and on their life,” Neinstein says. “We can only work with your body, not give you a new one.” Elliott agrees. To make sure you’re on the same page, the doctors recommend looking at digital models of what you could look like (many surgeons offer this software in-house, or you can try Plastic Surgery Simulator or Discover Beauty) instead of relying on before and after pictures of other people.
Afterward, “Ask yourself, ‘How will I feel looking in the mirror and seeing this change?’ If the answer is, ‘I’m finally going to look on the outside how I feel on the inside,’ then you’re good,” says Dr. Neinstein. “[But] if you feel unsure at all then you should wait.”
5. Have you done everything you can to help yourself first?
Both doctors say they recommend their patients make healthy lifestyle changes like exercising, eating a nutritious diet, and resolving any ongoing mental or physical health issues before considering surgery. Plastic surgery should never be your first choice for things you can fix on your own, says Neinstein. Plus, at the very least, working with a nutritionist, a trainer, and a psychologist beforehand can help you establish healthy maintenance rituals and can increase the odds your surgery will be successful. And it may mean you need less work done, like, say, dropping liposuction because you shed the pounds on your own. As for specifics, Neinstein says you should ideally have a BMI of 30 or under for any form of plastic surgery.
6. Do you know the risks?
First and foremost, “you could die,” Neinstein says. “It’s very rare, but this is major surgery and has the same risks.” Other risks of plastic surgery include infection, bleeding, scarring, and blood clots (which can also be fatal). In addition, about 5 percent of patients will need or want more surgery because they’re not satisfied with the results or because there was a complication, he says. Corrective surgery can be costly and painful, and the results aren’t guaranteed. Also, if you’re a smoker, well, don’t even walk in the door until you’ve quit, says Neinstein. Nicotine interferes with blood supply, he says, making surgery a no-go.
7. Have you done your homework?
Not all plastic surgeons are created equal and it’s important to find one that is board-certified, has a good reputation, and is willing to listen to you and answer questions, says Elliott. Then there’s the practical stuff: What type of procedure are you looking for? How much money will it cost? Do you have enough time off work? Do you have people who can help care for you after? Can you afford to fix it if something goes wrong? Make a checklist of all of the above, and make sure you have each and every question answered solidly before you book that surgery.