September 21, 2012
Dr. Anu Bajaj, M.D.
Plastic Surgery, how to talk about plastic surgery

The Etiquette of Talking About Plastic Surgery

Helpful tips to know when a friend has had some work done.

Plastic surgery has come a long way, baby. Only a few decades back, it carried a social stigma, and people were afraid to admit when they had any work done. Nowadays, cosmetic surgery is nowhere near as taboo.

But, in a time when it’s okay to talk about it, we should be asking ourselves: How should we talk about it?

Etiquette guru Mary Mitchell, a columnist for Reuters and a recent facelift patient, recently wrote some guidelines for what to do and say, or not do and say, to friends, family, or co-workers who might have had some work done.

Most people’s first instinct, to come outright and just ask them if they underwent cosmetic surgery, is definitely not the way to go.

“It’s incredibly rude to come out and ask about it,” says Mitchell. “Wait for them to tell you. If it’s really obvious, give the person an opening, like ‘Gee, you look great. What’s your secret?’ And say that without sarcasm.”

Of course, lots of people these days are more open about undergoing a cosmetic procedure, so you may not have to wait long – they might be eager to spill the beans and tell you all about it, especially if they’re feeling empowered by the results. Furthermore, telling someone about it can actually be beneficial to recovery.

Remember – this is surgery we’re talking about, and surgery is hard on your body, not to mention the emotional and mental stress you might experience afterwards. You’re going to want or even need a support person (or people) for that first week at least, to help you through the rough patches and offer support.

Don’t worry about the aesthetic results of the surgery right away – instead, ask how they’re feeling.

“Get your judgments out of the way, and ask the person how they are doing,” Mitchell said. “People forget that this is surgery. The person has undergone something traumatic to his or her body. Be solicitous about their health first.”

So, when someone you know has undergone surgery, cosmetic or otherwise, remember to try and be tactful and supportive, and to consider their well-being more than how their results turned out. After all, isn’t that more important, anyway?