Dr. Sam Jejurikar sees a high volume of cosmetic surgery patients at Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute. A consistent observation is that very few patients spend time contemplating the emotional aspects of plastic surgery. If they do give it some thought, it is usually focused on the positive effects they believe surgery will have on their confidence and self-esteem. While these positive psychological benefits certainly are true for most patients with time, plastic surgery can also have some transient adverse emotional side-effects.
The incidence of post-surgical depression is much higher than most people realize, and it’s one area that gets glossed over preoperatively. There are many contributing factors to this:
Effects of General Anesthesia
Traces of the chemicals used for general anesthesia can remain in your body, contributing to physical and emotional lethargy, for up to three weeks. These residual effects can include lethargy and depression, and even bouts of unexplained weepiness or despair. The older the patient, the more often these side effects tend to occur.
Prescription narcotic pain medications are commonly prescribed after surgery. These are “depressant” drugs, meaning that they tend to slow everything down, much like alcohol, but on a larger scale. Just as people have different emotional reactions to intoxication with alcohol, they also have different reactions to narcotic pain medications.
Nobody enjoys being stuck in bed, depending on others for help with basic activities of daily living, and being forced to abandon our usual routines. Feelings of restlessness, boredom, helplessness, and uselessness are common. In addition, the lack of physical activity usually means a short supply of endorphins, which can contribute to depression.
Bruised and Battered
When you look and feel terrible from pain, you’re more likely to feel terrible emotionally. Imagine lying in bed in pain, lethargic and nauseated from pain medication. When you go to the mirror to sneak a peek, you’re greeted by a bruised, swollen and asymmetric version of yourself. Just, remember though…
IT’S ALL TEMPORARY!
All of the above factors are temporary. As time passes, you’ll start to look and feel much better!