Monday , June 27 2022
Cosmetic Surgery

Which Cosmetic Surgery Is the Most Painful to Endure?

If you decide to undergo cosmetic surgery to improve your appearance and maybe even boost your self-esteem in the process, you will assuredly be in good company. And this is based on a study published by the Cleveland Clinic, a world-class nonprofit academic medical center in Ohio. According to the study data, some 15 million cosmetic surgeries are performed in the U.S. every year, with the average patient being between 40 and 54 years old. It is, however, worth noting that more women than men are going under the knife. The same study found that women account for roughly 92 percent of all cosmetic procedures performed in the U.S. Although these procedures can drastically improve an individual’s appearance and may even boost their self-esteem, some of them can be quite painful to endure.

What You May Not Have Known About Pain and Cosmetic Surgery but Probably Should

Thanks to general anesthesia, cosmetic surgery typically only causes pain post-surgery and not during the procedure itself. This powerful anesthetic, which is inhaled through a breathing mask or tube or administered via an intravenous (IV) line, induces unconsciousness and, therefore, all but eliminates any pain a patient might otherwise feel during surgery. Of course, what they have to endure post-surgery is another matter entirely. And the pain following some cosmetic procedures can be significantly more pronounced than others.

Which Cosmetic Surgery Is the Most Painful?

Having established that pain typically comes after a cosmetic procedure is performed rather than before it, let’s take a look at the ones that cause the most pain.  And yes, there are several that can cause significant pain post-surgery.  That said, the procedures that are the most popular and cause the most pain post-surgery are as follows:

Tummy Tucks

Also known as abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck can be painful for a couple of different reasons.  But before detailing those reasons, however, we should probably take a moment to familiarize ourselves with the procedure first.  In short, the goal of a tummy tuck is to flatten the abdomen, which involves removing excess fat and skin before tightening the underlying abdominal muscles.  This complex and very involved surgical procedure, which takes a little over two hours to complete, can leave patients in severe pain once their general anesthesia has completely worn off. Generally speaking, the pain caused by a tummy tuck comes from the surgery itself and moving around while the incision site is still healing.  Along with pain, many patients will also notice significant swelling after their procedure.  Most people rate the pain associated with recovering from a tummy tuck as a 4 to 6 out of 10, with 10 representing the worst pain imaginable.

Breast Augmentation

Yet another cosmetic procedure that can trigger considerable pain during recovery is breast augmentation.  And this is true whether the goal is to increase or decrease one’s breast size.  Most women report experiencing significant pain following the 1 to 2 hour-long surgery almost immediately after their general anesthesia wears off. And this pain can present in any of the following ways:

  • Extreme soreness
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Swelling
  • Bruising

Most women rate the pain associated with recovering from breast augmentation as a 3 to 5 out of 10.


Studies show that most people rate pain while recovering from liposuction as a 3 to 6 out of 10. This particular cosmetic procedure, which uses a suction technique to remove excess fat from the abdomen, hips, thighs, buttocks, arms, or neck, can leave patients in varying degrees of pain 2 to 4 days post-surgery.  According to most cosmetic surgeons, many patients also experience loss of sensation after wearing a compression garment following their surgery.  For reference, compression garments help reduce swelling caused by undergoing liposuction.


According to a study published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, some 220,000 rhinoplasties, also known as nose jobs, are performed each year in the U.S., making them the most sought-after when it comes to facial plastic surgery procedures.  That said, recovering from them can be a painful endeavor.  Most people who have undergone rhinoplasty say the level of pain they feel post-surgery is a 2 to 3 out of a possible 10.  Studies show that nearly all patients will experience bruising and swelling around their eyes. Many will also encounter extreme headaches.  On average, pain and overall discomfort arising from rhinoplasty can last anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks.


To achieve a more youthful appearance, many people will undergo a facelift.  In fact, a study published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) revealed that cosmetic surgeons in the U.S. performed over 206,000 of these procedures in 2018.  Of course, like the other cosmetic surgeries enumerated in this article so far, pain is par for the course when it comes to recovering from a facelift.  According to most surgeons, most patients will experience some degree of tightness in their lower face and neck for several weeks following their surgery.  Most people rate the pain associated with a rhytidectomy, also known as a facelift, as a 3 to 5 out of 10.

Pain Is Not the Only Byproduct When It Comes to Cosmetic Surgery

While the focus of this article has principally revolved around pain following various cosmetic procedures, there are other potential downsides worth noting.  As with any surgery, all cosmetic procedures can put individuals at risk of developing any of the following:

  • Hematomas
  • Seromas
  • Blood loss
  • A post-surgery infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Scarring
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Organ damage

Bottom Line

In summary, there is a certain degree of pain and risk of complications associated with all cosmetic procedures.  And this is true even for those that are minimally invasive.  To learn more about these risks and possible complications, you can start by clicking here.

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