Plastic surgery etiquette: Can I compliment?

Plastic surgery etiquette: Can I compliment?
Plastic surgery etiquette: Can I compliment?

As more people turn to cosmetic surgery to enhance their appearances, many others are left wondering: Can I say something?

Much like asking a woman whether she's pregnant, asking a person if they've had plastic surgery is not generally socially acceptable. However, there are ways that people can acknowledge and compliment procedures without coming out and directly asking about them.

Some of the nation's top surgeons have weighed in and offered advice concerning conversations about cosmetic procedures. 

Don't ask; they'll tell
Generally, people are discouraged from asking co-workers or friends if they've recently paid a visit to the plastic surgeon. While the surgery may seem noticeable, the person may not want other people to know that they've had surgery to enhance their looks. One doctor, known as Mr. Manners, explained to Everyday Health that some patients may be insulted if you ask them point-blank whether they've been under the knife. He added that this kind of abrasive questioning could not only come off as rude, but could have a negative impact on the person's self-esteem, as well.

Focus on the positive
Instead, Mr. Manners suggests complimenting the person on his or her looks. He quoted another board-certified surgeon who offered a piece of advice for these individuals, explaining the best practices for approaching the conversation.

"My patients who have had cosmetic procedures say they really appreciate it when others tell them they look good," she explained. "I think it would be appropriate to say something like: 'Sally, you look really great; so refreshed! Vacation definitely agreed with you.'" 

However, you must be careful when approaching the conversation with people in the office, or acquaintances who you are not very close with. Instead, Mr. Manners recommends taking a more formal approach, such as merely complimenting their appearance or asking how their vacation time was. If they are not willing to divulge details, it's best to move on.

Remain supportive
Whether you suspect a person has had plastic surgery or they have admitted to a procedure, it's imperative that you remain supportive of their decision. One surgeon explained to Reuters that being encouraging is a great way to not only bolster the person's self-confidence, but to increase your own knowledge as well. She explained that once you have broached the topic and heard about their procedure, you can now learn about the ins and outs of cosmetic procedures from a real person who has had an operation. Additionally, she added that it's important not to criticize the person's choice or new appearance, as while you may disagree with their decision, you must honor his or her ability to choose.