“The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” — Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1841-1919

Renoir may have been born before the invention of the tummy tuck, but his quote still applies today. After all, no one ever said that a cosmetic or elective treatment came without suffering. However, there are degrees of pain. Some treatments are more excruciating than others, according to many reviews on RealSelf.

Be sure to ask at any consultation what to expect with pain. A board-certified doctor or medical professional will be happy to disclose the big picture, including how much pain to expect. You can then work together to minimize any anticipated suffering, and they might recommend an additional prescription to help with numbing or pain.

Additionally, be sure to do your research and read reviews from people who have already done it. Our Worth It ratings on RealSelf are an excellent guide to overall patient satisfaction with a surgery, including pain experienced in proportion to happiness with overall results.

It’s important to keep in mind that the pain factor associated with a procedure does not necessarily impact its Worth It rating. People on RealSelf find that some of the most painful procedures are often the most rewarding — again, the old no pain, no gain theory. But sometimes there’s just no getting around the fact that it’s gonna hurt.

Ready to wince? Steel yourself for five procedures that might be painful, at least according to reviews from these people on RealSelf below.


Rhinoplasty, aka ‘nose job’

Worth It rating: 89%

When you get a nose job, your nose is typically broken first so it can be reshaped. According to this reviewer on RealSelf, who labeled her account, “The most painful ordeal every, but totally worth it!” the word “fun” is something that will probably never be associated with getting a nose job.

“I will not lie to you, the first 72 hours post-surgery I wanted my boyfriend to knock me out cold, I was taking two Percocet every three hours and between the meds and the pain I regretted the whole choice. After the third day you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The results: This reviewer definitely had a great ending to her story:

“Well, fast-forward five weeks later, and I can truly say I am happy with the results,” she wrote. “I still have a lot of swelling, and it’s still a little misshaped, but I see a difference every day. No one knows that it’s swollen but me, but it’s fun now getting all the compliments, and people telling me I look different but they can’t tell what it is. Oh, and one added bonus: My lips look fuller now because my nose was raised and my lip lifted. Who doesn’t love that!”

She ends with some solid advice for anyone seeking a rhinoplasty: “Bottom line, do it for you, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, and know you wont look like you at first, but have patience you’ll look great in a few weeks!”


Restylane injectable filler

Worth It rating: 90%

Injectable fillers can smooth skin, but may come with a side dish of misery for those who may not tolerate needles that well. This reviewer on RealSelf, who called her account “LOVE the look, the most painful experience,” wrote: “Oh my gosh…I did not realize the pain that would be involved in the process. They even numbed me! I could barely touch my lips for three to four days.”

The results: “The results last maybe three to four months. If it lasted on the 12-month side, [it would] definitely [be] worth the pain, but not for three to months,” she concluded.


Zoom teeth whitening

Worth It rating: 57%

A little sparkle in the teeth is the end goal for this procedure, but it came at a price for this reviewer in their recap titled, “Zoom…Ouch!”

“Had Zoom performed today and must say the zingers are awful!” she wrote. “I have a high pain threshold and expected discomfort due to reading horror stories of Zoom patients. The pain is very, very bad. I completely understand why the above reviewer did shots of vodka. I am dying to down some whisky, but I have two small children to take care of. In the meantime I am not eating or drinking anything because that’s what really set off the zingers to begin with.”

The results: “My teeth look whiter, although I can’t say they are phenomenal. They weren’t terribly stained to begin with. For $600, I was hoping for a little more…but I won’t admit that to my husband. He’ll say, ‘I told you so!’ ”


Fraxel Laser

Worth It Rating: 68%

Fraxel is a laser treatment to improve facial skintone and smooth wrinkles, but some reviewers reveal that it may come with a high cost painwise.

This forum on Fraxel, “Was your fraxel painful?“, reveals that many users have had a painful experience with Fraxel. Here are just a few of the comments:

“The most painful thing ever,” this reviewer wrote. “First of all, none of the information I received during my consultation ever mentioned anything about getting shots all over your face to help numb it! The doctor gave me at least 20 shots in my face and inside my mouth, which bruised me and caused me to bleed. Then applied numbing creams. After about 40 minute, the real torture began. Getting Fraxel is not like a mild, warm, sunburned feel. It feels more like needles dipped in kerosene with a blow torch lighting it all up.”

“It’s sooo painful! It feels like someone is scraping your skin, back and forth, with a dermaroller that doesn’t roll and that’s on fire,” wrote this reviewer.

“Shockingly painful. I think I was in shock,” this reviewer wrote. “Hurt like hell during and after for a few hours. I’ve had many IPL, V Beam and laser hair removal treatments, with and without numbing. On a pain scale of  1-10, those ranged from 2-8 during treatment, and 0 as soon as it was over. This was like a 25. Horrifying. It’s only day one. Hope it was worth it.”

The results: Here’s the update from the last reviewer: “P.S. IT WAS WORTH IT. Absolutely unreal results. I feel like the mirror is playing a trick on me. Lost five years off my skin…maybe more! Cannot believe I have to do this again!”

The second reviewer agreed (reviewer one never posted her results) that Fraxel does work. “Lol, I must say, that the treatments do work! About 70 to 80 percent improvement,” she wrote.


Breast augmentation

Worth It rating: 97%

This is one of the most frequently performed cosmetic procedures, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cake walk.

According to this reviewer‘s account of breast augmentation, “Love my boobs, but I’ve never been in so much pain”: “For two to three days after my surgery, I could not physically sit up,” she continues. “If I was lying down, someone would have to pull me up, after catching my breath, I would stand and feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest. My other issue is that I have one nipple that has no feeling in it, and the other is hypersensitive.”

The results: “My confidence has been boosted, along with my boobs. However, if I would have known how bad the recovery was, my chest would still be flat.”


The verdict?

Want the inside scoop on a procedure’s pain factor? Check the Worth It rating and read answers to community members’ questions. Then be sure to consult with board-certified doctors, who can explain all the risks and potential pain associated with an elective procedure. And be sure to ask for any solutions to help lessen the pain before you schedule your procedure.


Have questions? Ask a doctor.