Many of the patients that visit us at the Plastic Surgery Group of New Jersey tell us they prefer to keep their cosmetic treatment discreet in order to avoid chatter from friends, co-workers and acquaintances. However, when it comes to family and children, it is impossible to keep surgery a complete secret. Children are (perhaps surprisingly!) perceptible and can detect the most subtle changes. Therefore, if you are planning to have a plastic surgery procedure, you will probably have to say something to your kids. The question is, what?
Consider the Age and Developmental Stage of the Child
What you choose to tell your children should depend largely on their age and developmental stage. Young children do not need to know the details of the operation. And preadolescent girls may be worried to learn that Mom is undergoing a change. Tailor the level of detail to the age of your children. If they are in a fragile stage of development, it might be best to schedule surgery when they are off at camp or a grandparent’s house.
Frame Body Contouring Surgery as Restorative
Many of our patients with kids undergo mommy makeover treatment to address pregnancy-related changes. But disclosing this information to children can seem like it is blaming the child for surgery or placing fault. We encourage our mommy patients to reframe mommy makeover as a restorative procedure, as opposed to fixing something that was broken, which they could construe as being their fault.
Recover Privately, If Possible
Our plastic surgeons advise patients to recover privately, if possible, at first. Depending on the operation, there may be noticeable swelling, bruising, bandages and possibly drains. For at least the first few days, when these side effects are most prevalent, it is helpful to send the kids to a family member’s house so they do not worry or feel scared.
Let Children “Help” with Recovery
Something that is helpful for many of our patients is to make their children a part of the process and allow them to “help” with recovery. Obviously, you will want to shield your children from the medical and technical realities of surgery — for example, the incisions and more graphic details — but it is helpful to get children onboard during the healing process and, for example, have them fetch a glass of water or a blanket. This refocuses the child’s attention and makes them feel useful.
Contact the Plastic Surgery Group of New Jersey
If you would like additional suggestions from our plastic surgeons about talking to your kids, please give us a call at (973) 233-1933 or send us an email. We would be happy to discuss this topic with you in more detail so you are more comfortable.