Whether you’re considering a procedure to improve your health or change your look, plastic surgery can make a huge impact on your life. (Remember how excited Amber Rose was to say goodbye to back pain and hello to spaghetti straps after her breast reduction surgery?) While elective surgery isn’t something to take lightly, if a procedure is going to improve your quality of life, it might be the best way to show your body love. So what do you need to know before you even book that first consultation? We checked in with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. John Diaz to find out.

A plastic surgeon marks a patient's face

1. It’s probably safer than you think. Any Grey’s Anatomy fan knows that every surgery has its risks — potentially scary stuff like infections and blood clots, for example — so if you’re choosing to have a procedure, you need to weigh those risks against the benefits. The good news? “Plastic surgery within the United States is very safe,” Dr. Diaz assures us. “The most important aspect of starting your plastic surgery journey is finding a qualified board-certified surgeon to ensure you are in safe hands.” He recommends checking out the American Society of Plastic Surgeons website to search for a qualified surgeon in your area. You can also boost your health leading up to your procedure — for example, by quitting smoking and getting regular exercise.

2. The best patients do their research. “Most people that come to see me have been unhappy with a particular body part for several years,” shares Dr. Diaz. These patients had done their research — although, as Dr. Diaz discovered, not all of it was correct. So he wrote A Comprehensive Guide to Breast Augmentation, the first book in his Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery series, to clear things up. “Before undergoing plastic surgery, it is important to educate yourself about this operation so that you can be as prepared and informed as possible,” encourages Dr. Diaz. That means finding the best sources — and listening to your doctor, of course.

3. You can kill two birds with one stone — sort of. “Before deciding to have a surgery, it is essential to understand some of the pros and cons of this procedure,” says Dr. Diaz. “For example, the main advantage of a rhinoplasty is the improvement in the appearance of the nose.” But, he notes, “This particular surgery can also address any breathing issues at the same time. A rhinoplasty addresses the cosmetic issues of the nose, and a septoplasty can correct breathing issues.” If you’re a good candidate to address both aesthetic and medical concerns during your procedure, you should look for a surgeon who specializes equally in both approaches.

A plastic surgeon talks with a patient

4. The risks associated with breast implants are rare. “There have been reports of a rare and unusual cancer that seems to be linked to breast implants,” says Dr. Diaz. “This rare form of cancer is called breast implant associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). This condition is part of a group of cancers known as anaplastic large-cell lymphomas. This type of cancer can occur in various other parts of the body, but BIA-ALCL is specific to patients who have received implants.”

So, how rare are we talking? “To date, there have been 359 cases of BIA-ALCL worldwide,” says Dr. Diaz. “Given the large number of women who undergo breast augmentation throughout the world, these cases represent less than 0.01 percent of woman who have received implants.” In other words, it’s a very small risk. “Nevertheless, it is important that anyone planning to undergo breast augmentation should be made aware of this risk,” Dr. Diaz agrees. He also notes that in 93 percent of cases, patients diagnosed with BIA-ALCL are cancer-free following diagnosis and treatment. “The key is to get diagnosed and treated early. Any woman who has symptoms is encouraged to seek a board-certified plastic surgeon for proper evaluation.”

And what about “breast implant illness,” the symptoms and ill health some women believe are connected to their implants? “Breast implant illness has become a trending topic, but it is not a recognized condition,” explains Dr. Diaz. “There is little to no data supporting this.”

5. Plastic surgery can have a huge impact on mental health. “Any small or major surgery is not only an adjustment on the body, but also your emotions,” says Dr. Diaz. “Recovery is often the stage where people tend to feel depressed or emotional.” But, he says, that’s completely normal. For starters, you might not feel totally like yourself at first. “Patients may not look their best for several weeks, so it’s important that surgeons set realistic expectations with their patients about what they can expect days after, a week after, and so on.” Make sure to schedule time for self-care following your surgery.

Would you consider plastic surgery? Let us know @BritandCo.

Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.

(Photos via Getty)