Cosmetic Surgery Etiquette Changes

An April article in Reuters lays out a number of excellent guidelines that can help facilitate comfortable conversation about cosmetic surgery in the workplace, particularly when involving those who undergo surgery themselves.

According to The Wall Street Journal, more people are undergoing cosmetic surgery than ever before, prompting a number of developments to the industry as well as requisite shifts in conversational etiquette.

Increasing Cosmetic Procedures May Require Guidelines for Comfortable Discussions

Cosmetic surgery procedures have been growing across the board, including breast augmentation, body lifts and especially facial procedures such as chin augmentations, liposuction and facial fillers.

The Reuters article quotes Dr. Mary Lee Peters, a Seattle-based cosmetic surgeon, who said that having these procedures “takes on a polarizing effect like religion or politics. People have very strong opinions about it. There is no getting around it and no denying it. It is foolish to pretend that comfort in one’s body doesn’t matter. The people most likely to deny it are mostly uncomfortable with their own appearance.”

The guidelines discussed in the article include some commonsense advice, such as “don’t ask,” “don’t judge,” and “don’t gossip.” General wisdom advises those who suspect someone has undergone cosmetic surgery to let the potential patient bring it up in their own time.

Once the subject has been broached, it is best to focus on the health side of the discussion, asking the patient how they are feeling, how their recovery has been, and how they personally feel about the results of the procedure. Asking these supportive questions is one of the best ways to be an empathetic and interested listener. If the patient remarks on a dissatisfaction with the procedure, it is best to say something along the lines of, “I see what you mean, but only when you point it out.”

In Dr. Peters’ opinion, “It’s like choosing butter over olive oil, or vice versa. If you want to do it, and you are able to, why would that be any different from using resources to go to Europe or anywhere else?”