Prep Work

What to expect when you are thinking about having cosmetic procedures or surgeries
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Illustrations by S.E. George

Over the past decade or so, mainstream beauty standards have trended in the direction of body positivity and inclusivity. For perhaps the first time in modern memory, we’re seeing ourselves reflected in the beauty industry, instead of the other way around.

With that in mind, one might come to the conclusion that plastic surgery is in decline. However, the global cosmetic surgery industry is at an all-time high, according to a Fortune Business Insights study, and is projected to continue to grow to a value of $71.93 billion by 2029.

A cynic could argue this trend suggests the body positivity movement is nothing more than corporate gaslighting. However, it’s important to recognize that being body positive is rooted in choice, meaning people who want to change their appearance have every right to.

There’s no shame in having cellulite or a flat booty, but there’s also no shame in seeking medical or cosmetic intervention to feel confident. And, with a rise in non-invasive procedures like lip fillers, chemical peels and laser treatments, cosmetic treatments are arguably more accessible than ever.

Navigating what, when and whether to have a procedure can be overwhelming and making the choice to do so is a personal decision.

According to Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery of Acadiana’s Dr. Joseph Lupo, the first step when considering any procedure is to weigh the risks and rewards. It’s important to have a clear goal in mind, Lupo said, which will help you decide whether to seek surgical or non-surgical options.

In general, non-surgical procedures tend to be cheaper, easier and require less recovery. They also typically have more temporary results, which might make them more or less appealing, depending on the patient. Lupo suggests stepping back and assessing your time, physical needs and aesthetic goals before moving forward.

“From a patient perspective, the consideration of lifestyle and activities is the first priority,” he said. “For example, if a patient is a mom that is still adding to their family, then it is best to wait until she is done having children to proceed with most body surgeries.”

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, “over 99 percent of Americans place a very high value on a beautiful smile.” If you’re considering dental intervention to achieve your idea of an ideal smile, it’s important to remember that procedure and recovery time and costs vary widely.

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Teeth whitening usually lasts between six months and two years, but some patients’ results remain consistent for up to 10 years. Avoiding things like coffee, red wine and smoking can help extend whitening results. Veneers and crowns last up to seven years, and implants are typically reliable between 10 and 30 years.

Teeth whitening, for example, is typically a one-visit process, but may need to be done with some regularity to maintain results. Porcelain veneers and crowns are “cemented restorations,” that typically require at least two visits for shaping and then cementing.

While there are many non-surgical cosmetic procedures, the most permanent and extensive options may require surgery. Dental implants are the most reliable and longest-lasting teeth replacement option available, according to the AACD, but do require more time, both in recovery and preparation.

Non-surgical options include dentures or “bonding,” which is used to repair minor defects. Braces are also a non-surgical option for cosmetic repair, but patients should keep in mind results take months, if not years, and can be costly.

However, with clear or “invisible” braces becoming more affordable in recent years, the AACD reports trends away from invasive procedures, like veneers, in favor of more gradual procedures, like braces.

For surgical procedures of any kind, immediate barriers might include uncontrolled health issues, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

With that in mind, if you have preexisting conditions or a higher-risk lifestyle that you aren’t willing to adjust, seeking out non-surgical procedures would likely be your best route. With new cosmetic treatments and trends being developed all the time, there’s a good chance you can find non-invasive options for procedures that were once exclusively surgical.

However, if you do decide to have surgery, finding the right physician is key.

“A board-certified plastic surgeon is the only option, in my opinion,” Lupo said. “Personality and aesthetics also matter. The surgeon a patient chooses should match up with the type of result they want to achieve. For example, some may prefer ostentatious results, whereas others might prefer a more natural approach to cosmetic surgery.”

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According to Dr. Joseph Lupo, breast surgeries –– augmentation, lifts, and reduction –– are by far the most common cosmetic surgery in the region, followed by tummy tucks and fat transfers, primarily from stomach to butt.

Before moving forward, Lupo recommends visiting the American Board of Plastic Surgery website ( to verify your surgeon’s certification. Finding the right doctor might take some time, but Lupo cautions against rushing the process.

Cosmetic surgery is deeply personal and it’s important that you connect with your physician. You will need to have open and honest discussions about your body and goals, and your surgeon should empower you to do so. If they don’t, your desired results are at risk, as is your overall experience during the process.

If you have friends or family who have had similar work done, they can be your best resource. Ask around, seek recommendations from trusted sources, and know you can always say no.

To prepare for surgery, Lupo recommends focusing on a healthy lifestyle and mentally preparing for the physical challenges that might occur during the healing process.

“Eating well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle [pre-surgery] will assist recovery time. Also having a support system is important, not only physical support, but emotional support,” he said.

Depending on the type and amount of surgery done, Lupo said patients should expect a month or two of appointments, post-operation. Though recovery varies from person to person, patients getting major surgeries like a breast reduction or tummy tuck should expect to need significant help as they heal.

“The main thing is to remain patient and follow the surgeon’s instructions for restrictions,” he said. “It can be frustrating to be limited but in the long run, it will pay off.

Ultimately, Lupo said to trust your gut. Do your research, have as many consultations you feel you need, and don’t move forward if you’re having cold feet. Talk to other people you trust who have gone through the process, and, perhaps most importantly, be sure you’re taking care of your mental health.

If you decide to pursue cosmetic treatment, do it for one person, and one person only: you.