Elle's "Ask E. Jean" column recently addressed a question that my patients sometimes ask me: what will people say when I go back to work, and what should I say to them?
"Dear E. Jean: Next month I'm getting the gift I've always wished for: plastic surgery to correct some bothersome facial imperfections. This means I'll be out of work for a few weeks. Undoubtedly I'll look much different when I return, so how do I keep my coworkers' reactions, speculation, and gossip at bay? My office is filled with people who like to spill their guts about everything, while I remain very private. It's really no one's business what I do to my face, but how do I convey this fact in a professional way without affecting my relationships with my coworkers?"—Tight-Lipped and All Business
E. Jean's insightful and humorous answer to this query can be found at Elle.
In my opinion, there are several ways to handle this situation. The correct way for you depends entirely on your situation, personal preference, and comfort level.
Often people will deliberately make another change to coincide with their surgery, so as to distract from the surgery itself. Your coworkers will feel that there is something different about you, but in the vast majority of cases, people will not be able to pinpoint exactly what it is. The idea here is to attribute the difference to something else: losing five pounds, changing your hair color, getting a new hair cut, or applying self-tanner, for instance.
For patients undergoing a facelift or necklift, I suggest planning to wear your hair down for the first two weeks after surgery. This allows incision lines to heal while having a bit of a camouflage effect. If you are having an eyelift or blepharoplasty, wearing sunglasses or regular glasses for the first week will effectively hide the surgery. For minor procedures like Botox or fillers, there is usually no bruising at all, but if there is a bit, it is easily covered by makeup.
In colder months, a beautiful scarf or turtleneck sweater can hide evidence of neck (double chin) liposuction, a chin implant, a facelift, or a necklift. And in warmer months, take comfort in the fact that by the time most people return to work (1 week after the procedure), the vast majority of swelling and bruising will have already gone away.
Breast and body surgery (breast augmentation/ implants, tummy tuck, liposuction, labiaplasty, and anything below the neck, really) are quite easy to disguise with appropriate clothing.
Some patients prefer to confront their cosmetic procedures head-on, saying "I had a cosmetic procedure," "I had my nose done," or "This is something that had been bothering me for ages." While it is certainly up to you if you choose to use this approach, plastic surgery is now incredibly common, and this explanation should be plenty for any coworker.
Some of my patients prefer not to discuss their procedure at all, and when asked by a nosy coworker about a perceived change will respond with something to the effect of "That's not a very nice question to ask," or "It's a bit personal, don't you think?"
The most important thing for you to remember is that it is your body and your face, and you don't owe an explanation to anyone besides yourself. We all make changes to make ourselves look and feel better-- whether it is applying lipstick, styling our hair, covering our grays, or exercising away our unwanted fat-- and these are all personal style and identity decisions. Take comfort in the fact that plastic surgery is widely prevalent, and patient satisfaction afterward is very high.