When patients seek a cosmetic procedure, an incredible amount of planning, preparation, and time goes into it. From the initial consultation, to the operating table, to the recovery at home, a lot of work goes into choosing and getting the desired results.
Yet even after all this, sometimes patients will be depressed following their surgery. The results are what they wanted, but they’re experiencing a sadness that seems to come out of nowhere.
What causes depression after surgery? How serious is it? And what can you do as a plastic surgery patient to prevent it?
Common Causes of Post-Op Depression
Many patients are surprised to learn that some depression after surgery is considered normal, even if their results are exactly what they wanted. The cause of this depression varies for each patient and depends on many factors. Timing, environment, support network, mental health, and coping strategies can all impact the patient’s mood following a major surgery.
But the following are the common reasons for depression after a procedure:
- Anesthesia – During the first few hours post surgery, the presence of anesthesia in the system can trigger emotional sensitivity and anxiety. These feelings will dissipate as the anesthesia is processed by and removed from the body.
- Medications – Some pain medications have been linked to trouble with mood often causing sadness. These effects will go away once the prescription has been completed. But if the depression is severe, the surgeon will talk to you about other options.
- Frustration – Especially for active people, being confined to one part of the house to rest and relax can be extremely frustrating. Maybe the recovery is getting in the way of chores around the house, errands to run, or a to-do list. Pent-up frustration is a known cause for feelings of depression and helplessness.
- Pain and discomfort – These two culprits can make anyone miserable. If you’re uncomfortable all day, can’t sleep, and can’t find any relief, of course you’re going to be feeling a little down.
- Post-op Let Down – All that planning can get the adrenaline pumping. Sometimes, patients are so worked up and ready for their procedure, that the realization that it’s all over can be a blow. Even if the results are exactly what were wanted, there may be a part of the patient that has to come down from that planning adrenaline rush. The recovery time can exacerbate this as well, leading to a final reveal that can seem anticlimactic.
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) – Especially if it’s a first surgery, some patients undergo plastic surgery without realizing they have a condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder. BDD is a body-image disorder that can cause a person to be constantly preoccupied with the way they want to look, or a perceived defect that they have. In untreated cases of BDD, patients might seek plastic surgery again and again to achieve the right results, which is actually impossible until they confront their image problems
Understanding Your Post-Op Depression
Knowing the reasons that can cause depression after surgery, it’s easy to see why this can be such an easy problem to have. Any form of depression should be treated with care and caution in order to make sure that proper healing, both physical and mental, can occur after the surgery. While many patients only experience their post-op depressions as a mild condition, serious cases can occur.
If you’re feeling out of sorts following your procedure, don’t try to handle them on your own. Talk to your family and friends to ask for support as you recover and don’t hesitate to speak to your plastic surgeon.
Depression should never be treated lightly, ignored, or downplayed. Treat your moods following surgery with the same caution you would treat your physical symptoms. That is truly the best way to make sure you will achieve a full recovery.
How to Safeguard Against Depression After Surgery
The best way to protect yourself from depression following your procedure is to talk openly about the issue with your plastic surgeon. They will have experience with many different patients, and are able to talk about the problems they have faced after surgery.
Visualize the results that you want to achieve with plastic surgery and plan for your recovery period with enthusiasm. By keeping a positive attitude, you will set yourself up for good feelings during your recovery.
In addition to being realistic about the results that the procedure can achieve, the patient should give themselves the time they need to process any sadness or moodiness that may occur. By acknowledging the validity of these feelings as just a side effect of the surgery, coping with and managing them will be much easier.
Contact Us for a Complimentary Consultation
Cosmetic surgery can be a difficult experience for anyone, which is why it is so important to consult with an experienced facial plastic surgeon. Dr. Andres Bustillo, M.D., F.A.C.S. is one of a select few double board certified facial plastic surgeons. He is board certified by both the American Board of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery.
Because he is a facial specialist, he does not perform surgery on any area of the body other than the face. This specialization and experience has allowed him to get results for patients ranging in facial shapes, features, and skin types. By continuing to build his experience and keep up on the latest advancements, Dr. Bustillo has built his reputation as someone who produces natural, long-lasting results.
Over 50 percent of his practice is dedicated to rhinoplasty and revision rhinoplasty. The rest is devoted to other types of facial rejuvenation surgery. He performs over 300 nasal surgeries a year. Twenty-five percent of his patients come from outside the United States. Twenty percent of his patients are other doctors and their families.
He and his team can be contacted by phone at 305-663-3380 or by email through the contact form. The office of Dr. Bustillo is here to answer your questions, and help you to plan your initial consultation. You can also directly contact our patient care coordinator, Jessica, by email. Dr. Bustillo is committed to total patient care and support through his practice based just south of Miami, in beautiful and historic Coral Gables, Florida.