Every potential cosmetic surgery patient fears one thing — looking like they’ve had work done. The number of successful surgeries outnumbers the cases where patients show obvious signs of surgery, and you can avoid these undesirable results by following the experts’ advice.

Telltale Signs of Bad Cosmetic Surgery

The biggest sign of cosmetic surgery is if someone can notice the work done, says Robert M. Schwarcz, MD, FACS. “Bad work” can be defined by something that stands out and doesn’t look natural on a person’s face or body. Unnatural lines, a stretched or pulled look and scarring on a person’s face as a result of closing a wound under tension are some telltale signs of bad surgery, as are eyes with an unnatural shape and any type of asymmetry on a person’s face.

Some complications resulting from surgery may not be a sign of a bad surgeon, Dr. Schwarcz says, just bad luck. While pulling too tightly is usually a sign of poor work, a hemorrhage, infection or nerve damage can happen to anyone. Schwarcz says he avoids complications by keeping a patient’s appearance as natural as possible. “You want to leave things natural-looking without a lot of tension [and] you want people looking just as they did before, only refreshed.”

With body procedures like breast augmentation, anything that is too large for the body form or out of proportion from a person’s frame is usually a sign of surgery, says Leo R. McCafferty, MD, FACS, former president of The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

While these unnatural looks may be more prevalent in tabloids, they are the minority and only add to patients’ fear of looking unnatural, Dr. McCafferty says. “There is a fear factor out there about looking unnatural, but the trend every year has been focused on less invasive surgery with quicker recoveries and the most natural result possible,” McCafferty says.

Listen to Your Surgeon’s Advice

Fortunately, as techniques become more developed and advanced, noticeable signs of surgery have mostly diminished. The advancement and popularity of fillers, however, has caused some patients to see unnatural results. “There is a tendency these days to try and cure all things with fillers,” McCafferty says. “Patients don’t want to have surgery or want to do something little, but we’ve seen patients that have been overfilled, with their faces looking fuller but still older in age.”

Though it may be tempting to exclusively stick with non-invasive procedures, it may not be possible, regardless of how many injections they have, McCafferty says. It’s important to listen to your doctor’s recommendations for what procedures will and won’t work to achieve your desired results. Failure to do so may result in the telltale signs of bad cosmetic surgery that patients are trying to avoid in the first place.

How to Avoid Hints of Cosmetic Surgery Gone Wrong

There are several steps both patients can take to help minimalize obvious signs of bad plastic surgery.

  • Lead a healthy lifestyle. Patients who maintain a healthy skin care regimen, eat well, are non-smokers and avoid blood thinners two weeks prior to surgery will often heal faster after surgery.
  • Do your homework. Seek a doctor who has been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, McCafferty says, and get advice from someone who is well-trained and has a demonstrated expertise in your area of concern.
  • Get another opinion. You should feel comfortable talking to multiple surgeons about the procedure you’re looking to have done. Get as much information as you can and work with the doctor you feel the most comfortable with. It also helps to have a referral from someone who has had a similar procedure with successful, natural-looking results.
  • Know every surgery is different. Surgeons should not try to make a person look like someone they’re not, Schwarcz says. It’s important for them not to give every person the exact same procedure and treat every surgery like a completely separate entity, even if