The stigma surrounding cosmetic surgery is lessening on an almost daily basis—and with this growing societal acceptance, more and more people are choosing to have a nip and tuck. Last year alone, over 15 million people had work done, with a large portion of those plastic surgery patients being women.
But what do you do when it’s your significant other who wants to go under the knife? The decision to have plastic surgery is a deeply personal one that often involves long consideration, in-depth research, and close examination of one’s needs and desires. To have your girlfriend make a vulnerable, intimate admission regarding her insecurities and decision to address them head-on is not something that should be taken lightly.
To help you out, we’ve detailed a few important tips on how (and how not) to react when your partner starts talking about plastic surgery.
Listen, Listen, Listen
Though plastic surgery is becoming much less taboo, your girlfriend is still likely feeling quite vulnerable as she discusses her plans with you. The most important thing you can do at this point is listen.
DO NOT: interject with your opinions or advice
When discussing anything of import, it can be difficult to resist the urge to contribute to the conversation—particularly when you’re speaking with someone you love and feel comfortable with. Try to truly listen to what your partner is saying and only interject when she is prompting you to do so. It’s very important that she feels heard and that she is in a safe space to discuss her thoughts.
DO: use non-verbal cues of support and understanding
Keeping the aforementioned advice in mind, remember that if your partner is discussing this decision with you, she is hoping for your support. Try communicating through nonverbal cues: hold her hand, make good eye contact, and nod or smile in encouragement when you can see she is wanting affirmation. This is about her.
To Reiterate: It’s Not About You
As much as you are part of each other’s lives, her decision is not about you. While her choice may impact you (assistance during her recovery, personal chauffeuring as she heals, supporting her through emotional ups and downs after surgery, etc.), it is, ultimately, up to her alone to make it.
DO NOT: give your opinion too much weight.
While “I love you just the way you are!” seems like a romantic sentiment, it’s not always the right response. Your intention is to show support or emphasize that her perceived flaws are of no consequence to you, but you may be inadvertently implying that any changes to her appearance will impact your feelings, or that her personal desires or insecurities are not as important as your opinion. Another important reason to not give your opinion too much weight is that if she moves forward and things don’t turn out as she hoped, you’ll feel terrible if you’ve pressured her. Alternatively, if you discourage her from surgery, she may resent you for stopping her from making a change she wanted.
DO: celebrate her choices, not her looks.
The best way to support your girlfriend at this time is to focus your energy on her decision rather than her appearance. If something about her body bothers her, it doesn’t matter whether you see the problem or not. Try to keep your responses off the topic of her appearance and instead focus on what she is saying and how she feels. Remember, her decision to take control of something she wants to change on her body may be empowering for her. What you can say is that you’ll support her decision either way, whether she chooses surgery or not.
Bonus: Be Honest
If your partner’s declaration has taken you by surprise or you’re unsure how to respond, be honest! She has already spent a long time thinking it through, so she will understand if you admit that you’re not sure what to say. You can still be supportive while taking some time to digest the information.
Likewise, if you have concerns about the safety of surgery, her reasons for wanting it, or the financial aspect, let her know in a respectful way. Ask her to share some of her research or if she would be comfortable bringing you along for her consultation.
You Will Both Be Just Fine
The Plastic Surgery Center of Hampton Roads has been in practice for over twenty years. In that time, we’ve developed an intimate understanding of the emotional nuances of plastic surgery—in addition to the positive and life-changing benefits it can have.
When performed by a board certified plastic surgeon, most cosmetic surgery procedures are incredibly safe and boast very high patient satisfaction ratings. In fact, according to the online cosmetic surgery community RealSelf:
- 98% of breast augmentation patients are thrilled with their long-term results.
- 97% of tummy tuck patients think the improvements are totally worth it.
- 92% of liposuction patients love their final look.
You may not fully understand why your girlfriend wants to change or enhance her appearance, but we promise that if she makes the choice for herself, you’ll love the way she lights up when she feels more confident and comfortable in her skin.