Talking to Kids About Plastic Surgery

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With an increase in both "mommy makeovers" and male cosmetic surgery procedures, a lot of parents are going under the knife these days. But while the change in your appearance may be a welcome change to you and maybe even your partner- it may not be as easily embraced by your children. If you’re struggling to figure out how to tell your kids that you’ll be changing your look, or if they know and are having fear or anxiety about your upcoming or recent surgery, here are a few tips to help explain your decision to them, and hopefully ease some of that stress, too.

How do I tell my children I’m having surgery without them getting scared?

Telling your kid you’re about to have major surgery can be very scary- for you and for them. While it is recommended that you discuss what is about to happen with them, depending on their age there are varying degrees of detail you should give them about the procedure. For preschool aged children and younger, telling them that mom or dad are going to see the doctor so they can feel better about themselves is a great, vague way to summarize what’s about to happen. Nothing in their lives is changing, you will just be happier with how you look, and after you heal, you’ll feel better, too.


Older children may ask more in depth questions about the surgical procedure itself.  Depending on the age, you can go into slightly more detail. For example, if an 8-year-old asks "How does the doctor fix your nose?" you can explain that the doctor will use some surgical tools and change the shape of your nose. The same general question asked by a teenager may warrant some more detailed information. Explaining the surgery in more detail ("The surgeon is removing some bone and cartilage from my nose to reshape it.") gives them an answer without giving them anxiety over what you’re about to undergo. It may even help to bring a teen or mature tween with you to a consultation before your surgery so that your doctor can help explain to them what he or she will be doing – and reassure them that their mom or dad is in great hands.

If they are worried about the surgery itself, reassure them about what you are about to go through. Say things like "I will be asleep during my procedure, and I won’t feel any pain. My doctor does this every day, and he knows what he’s doing," or "This is a small surgery, and I will be awake for it- but I won’t feel any pain during the procedure.

How do I explain to my child why I look different?

Your surgery is over, but you may not look the same as you did before.  This can be very scary for some young children. After all, some kids are afraid of parents for a little while when they get something as simple as a new hairstyle. Remember, it’s not just an adjustment for you, it’s an adjustment for them, too. Even if you’ve explained the procedure prior to getting it, your child most likely not understand or even like the changes in your appearance immediately following your procedure.

For parents undergoing procedures like tummy tucks, breast implants, or other changes from the neck down, your child may notice slight changes, but probably won’t be too concerned- but for things like face lifts, rhinoplasties, fillers and any other facial surgery, it can be a tough transition. One way to help slightly older children is to help show them the differences in before and after photos. Let them compare the slight changes in your face, but also make sure to point out that many of your features have not changed.  If your surgeon has a computer generated ‘mock up’ of what you can expect to look like after surgery, you may want to share that photo with your child before the surgery.

Remember, don’t let your child’s negative reaction to your new look take away from your happiness with your new look- eventually, children will adjust to the changes, and love the way you look just as much as you do.

What do I tell my daughter about accepting her appearance if I change mine?

Teaching your child body acceptance can be extremely difficult- especially with teens and preteens.  Many women struggle with what to tell their kids about changes in their face or breast size- especially when they’re trying to teach children to love themselves for who they are. A few tips that may help to explain to your child why you’re getting surgery are:

  • Remind your child that inner beauty is more important than outer beauty and that you’ll still be the same person on the inside
  • Tell them that the surgery will help boost your self-esteem, so you can have the confidence to make your life better in other ways.
  • Let your child know that you did not make the decision to change your body lightly. The problems you are correcting are issues you’ve tried to fix on your own (such as through exercise), or you’ve had problems with them for a very long time (like the size of your nose, breasts or ears).

What do I do if my child is afraid of my new look or the bruising and bandages I’ve gotten from the surgery?

This is a common problem. Parents often come home from surgical procedures with lots of bandages and bruising, which may be scary for small children. If your child is afraid to look at you, don’t force them to. Let them know that you are okay, that the bandages and bruises are temporary, and that it really is you underneath all that ‘mummy wrap.’ For younger kids, explain that you are wearing bandages because you have some ‘owies’ underneath, but they’ll go away soon, and you can take off the bandages when you’re all better.

In the end, most of the negative responses you’ll get from your children are motivated by fear- fear that you’ll look like a stranger, that you may not survive the surgery, or that you will be in pain. If you can find a way to get your children to understand that you are happy with your new look, that you are in good hands, and that you will be okay, the should be okay, too.

If you're ready to take the next step with a cosmetic procedure call Contours and Curves at (702) 430-1198 and Dr. Mitchell will be happy to help you.

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