Those who decide to have a cosmetic procedure, she added, should "check into the side effects of what could go wrong and make sure it is worth the risk."
In agreement with that advice are officials from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, another professional organization of physicians who perform cosmetic procedures. In a survey by the group released this month, pollsters found that nearly 40 percent of cosmetic surgery patients said they should have been more proactive in learning about side effects and potential complications before the surgery.
The survey, conducted by a market research firm and funded by a grant from pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., polled 301 patients who had cosmetic surgery and 316 who had surgery that was medically necessary.
While 80 percent of the cosmetic surgery patients were pleased with the experience, about a third encountered "difficult to manage" side effects or complications after surgery, and 40 percent said they wished they had researched the surgery more extensively.
Among the suggested questions to ask a doctor, according to the Society: What are your credentials and training? How many of these procedures have you performed? What are the risks? Where will you do the procedure? What type of anesthesia will you use? What are the potential complications and side effects? How long is the recovery period? What can I, and can't I, do during the recovery time?
Chrisler suggested people also have realistic expectations should they decide to have cosmetic surgery.
"People often think they are going to be happier," she said. "And they are often not." To boost happiness, she tells them, "You have to work on the inside as well as the outside."
To learn more about pre-surgery consultation, visit the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
SOURCES: James Stuzin, M.D., plastic surgeon, Miami, and president, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; Joan Chrisler, Ph.D., professor, psychology, Connecticut College, New London; American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 2007 survey; American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2007 survey