Be Mindful of Your Emotions After Surgery

It is an exciting journey to decide to have plastic surgery. So much so that, to feel anything less than bliss afterward can be quite alarming. Before plastic surgery, patients are usually floating on Cloud Nine, and they expect to remain there permanently, for the most part. They imagine their new figure or facial appearance and just know that they will look and feel like their best selves. While these are realistic expectations, they don’t always occur to the degree a patient imagines. In fact, some people encounter unexpected feelings of sadness after plastic surgery. Here, we discuss why this can happen and how to manage it or prevent it altogether.

Postoperative Sadness Doesn’t Mean Something is Wrong

Expecting excitement and happiness after surgery and being hit with a strong negative emotional reaction can be jarring. According to research, this is not much unlike postpartum depression. In each situation, the patient expects to feel happy and cannot find any good reason to explain why they are not. This exacerbates the feelings of sadness with confusion and, sometimes, guilt. It is important to understand that strong emotional reactions can occur after any kind of surgery, and may stem from a number of factors. These range from the physical toll of a surgical procedure to the fatigue and soreness related to recovery. It can also be difficult to rely on others, even for brief periods, which can create unsettled feelings of sadness. 

Postoperative sadness may look like:

  • Irritability and heightened emotional sensitivity
  • Anxiety about post-operative side effects and potential complications
  • Anxiety about the final outcome of surgery and how it will look
  • Feelings of regret over having surgery
  • Missing the normal aspects of life, like working out and socializing

What to Do About Postoperative Sadness

That old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies to dealing with postoperative sadness. The best way to manage it is to acknowledge that it can happen and take steps before surgery to prevent it. Communication with the plastic surgeon may help set the most realistic expectations of surgical outcome as well as what to expect during recovery. At the pre-operative visit, patients should ask their doctor:

  • What they will look like right after surgery and through their recovery.
  • How long they may experience post-surgical side effects like swelling and soreness.
  • What side effects are normal and which side effects warrant a call to the office.

Before surgery is also the best time to plan certain aspects of recovery. Patients can prepare by:

  • Gathering supportive friends and loved ones to check in with daily. This helps maintain connections during times of doubt.
  • Prepare healthy meals ahead of time to refrigerate or freeze.
  • Assemble necessities for entertainment to prevent boredom, when feelings of sadness may arise. Make a list of movies or shows to watch. Create an uplifting music playlist, or purchase a novel or book that sounds interesting. 
  • Prepare ways to address blue feelings should they occur. Suggestions include calling a friend, having a vision board that depicts the reasons for having surgery, or having affirmations to read every day. 

Plastic surgery can be a life-changing decision, even if there are some emotional bumps in the road during recovery. We’re here to help our patients navigate their process. To learn more about our plastic surgery services, call our Austin office at (512) 450-1077.

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