Cosmetic Surgery – 6 Things Not to Say (& What to Say Instead)

Ok, we’ve all seen them. The ladies with their eyebrows pulled up to their hairlines, skin that doesn’t crease regardless of expression, certain “assets” that somehow don’t fit the rest of the body. It’s hard to look away.

But now cosmetic surgery isn’t just reserved for the later years and it isn’t always about extreme changes. Women as young as their early 20’s are getting work done (sometimes even younger!) And the work can be so subtle with minor tweaks it’s becoming somewhat of a norm. This makes it even trickier to know how to handle the topic when it comes up. Some women (or men) are open and even excited to share while others are tight lipped.

So how should you tackle this whole cosmetic surgery topic if it comes up? What do you do if you’re confronted with a friend or acquaintance whose had obvious work? Or maybe you just want to get their masterful doctor’s contact and don’t know how to ask… Well here are some tips on what NOT to say. And what you should say instead.

1 Did you get work done?

This one should be a bit obvious, but you’d be amazed how many people bluntly ask if someone has had work. Simply put, NEVER ask anyone outright. You’d have to be blood related and even then there are more polite ways of putting it.

What you can do is give a subtle compliment to acknowledge the change in appearance. Say something vague but complimentary such as “You’re looking fantastic”, or a playful “You look amazing you’ll have to share your beauty secret.” This lets them know that whatever they did has made a positive difference and gives them an opening to share more if they so desire. But you should never press beyond a vague hint that you notice.

2 Who’s your doctor?

Now I’m not saying you can never ask this, there are times when it’s completely acceptable, for example close friends and family. But this question is best avoided when it comes to acquaintances or people you’re not particularly close or open with.

And regardless of how close you are never ask this question unless the topic is already open and they’ve already been forthcoming about their work.

If you are desperate to get the doctors info and you’re not close, you can give a sincere compliment “It’s really beautiful work, if you wouldn’t mind sharing, who did you go to? Of course only if you’re comfortable saying.” Always give them an out so it’s easy for them to keep the secret and always add a compliment or it just looks like you’re being judgey or nosey.

3 How much did it cost?

This is far too blunt, but if you’re looking to use the same doctor it’s a valid question. You can inquire about the price more subtly by asking if it was expensive. This leaves them open to deciding whether to be vague and brush off the question or give you the exact numbers.

With this point I would say there’s a definite exception, that being if you’re very close with someone. Because what bestie/sister/mother etc would mind giving that info. But again suss out the situation and if you feel it would make them uncomfortable don’t ask.

Regardless of what they say don’t react with any judgement. If you say it was too much they’ll feel like the work doesn’t look good enough to warrant the price tag. And if you remark how incredibly cheap it was then they may feel they didn’t go to the “best” place.

4 You look sooo much better.

Everyone likes to be complimented, but if it’s too over the top then they’ll automatically think, “Well how terrible I must have looked before!”

Someone may look 100 times better and you may want to shout how they appear 50 pounds lighter, 20 years younger or how beautifully proportional their face looks now that that obstructive nose is whittled down to human proportion, but it’s best to avoid too much shock and praise. Even if they do look completely amazing you don’t want them to feel like they weren’t good enough as they were. You can always add a “You were always beautiful, but this suits you so nicely.”

5 You look different.

Piggy backing off of the last one, you also don’t want to say how different they look. A big transformation may have been what they were after, but often people get work done to enhance their appearance, they still want to look like themselves and they typically don’t want it to be obvious to the world. So by pointing out how different they appear it’s making it clear the work isn’t subtle.

And I find the “you look different” comment is worse than the “you look sooo much better” comment. Because what does different mean. It can mean different good, but could very well mean different bad. It’s better to avoid this word all-together.

If they look so different that it would be almost ridiculous not to say something stick with a the vague compliment to acknowledge the fact that you’re not blind.

6 OMG what happened to you?!

Ok this one is a bit of a joke, please tell me you would never say that. But it does bring me to the point of how to react when someone has gotten terrible work.

This is awkward because whilst I never agree it’s nice to lie to someone you certainly don’t want to criticise or make them feel bad.

If you can get away with saying nothing then say nothing. Pretend like you don’t notice a thing.

If you’re dealing with someone close to you and the change is too noticeable to ignore this may be one of the few occasions to bring out a white lie. Give a quick positive acknowledgment and try to change the subject as quickly as possible. After all, they’ve already went through with the procedure, it doesn’t help if they feel bad about it now.

Of course if they ask your honest opinion you can share, just be gentle with your wording.

With any of these comments or questions it’s always best to be subtle, kind, and thoughtful about the words and tone you use. Everyone differs on how much they wish to share, if at all. And it’s best to take precaution until you know how open they are.

*Another side note… Besides for a sincere yet vague compliment, never call anyone out in front of others, whether it be at a party or on social media. If you address their cosmetic surgery at all, do so in private.

HOMEWORK: Imagine you got work done, or maybe you have. How would you want people to react to you? Really think about it and it will give you a better idea of how to graciously respond in these situations.

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Photo Courtesy: Ling Liu by Lacey for Vogue China