The Positive Effects Of Cosmetic Procedures On Self Esteem

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The plastic surgery industry has been growing steadily for decades.  According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the number of people electing to have cosmetic procedures has increased 155% in under three decades.  It wasn’t long ago, only movie stars chose elective surgery to improve appearance.  Now, billions of dollars are spent annually on these procedures with the majority being used for some type of surgery.  Cosmetic plastic surgery is becoming more acceptable to the average individual regardless of social status or job description.

What is the driving force behind the rapidly growing popularity of cosmetic procedures? 

We live in a culture of youth and desire to look as young as possible for as long as possible.  Nobody wants to be the old fogey at the party.  But it’s more complicated than simply trying to look younger. As more undergo cosmetic treatments, both surgical and non-surgical, researchers are looking into the long term effects and finding a strong correlation between plastic surgery and positive self-esteem.  It’s as much about how a person feels as looks.

Negative body image is the number one incentive for a cosmetic procedure.

Most people can accept flaws in their appearance.  After all, none of us are perfect.  But if the flaw is distracting or interferes with normal life in some way and can be fixed, the attitude is, why not have something done? Breast augmentation is the most popular procedure but tummy tucks, breast reduction and face lifts are almost equally popular.  The vast majority of people find they feel better about themselves after healing from cosmetic surgery.

A young woman who is otherwise attractive but has an extremely, even abnormally, flat chest, is likely to feel much better about her body image after breast augmentation.  Kelli, age 23, is just such a woman.  Being 6 feet tall, she is a presence in any room.  But she was flat as a wall and wanted to feel like the woman she is.  “There is no enjoyment in padded bras and swimsuits,” she said.  Her parents discouraged plastic surgery until they were sure nothing was going to improve the situation naturally then consented to give their full support for her decision.  After breast augmentation, Kelli, now a B-C cup has something to put in the bras and swimsuits and doesn’t need padding.  “I didn’t go extra-large,” she said, “only enough to make it clear I’m female.”

Vickie, a 45 year old housewife and mother of 2, had some cosmetic laser surgery to reduce the appearance of the dark port wine stain birthmark running from her ear to chest.  “People told me they didn’t notice it after a short time, but every time I looked in the mirror, I saw it.”  After her procedure, it greatly lightened and is easily covered with makeup.  “I don’t feel any blotchier than the average woman my age now.  Now, normal makeup works for me rather than the expensive stage makeup I was using.”

Both Kelli and Vickie admit to being less anxious in social situations, especially where they meet new people.  Used to feeling like they stood out for the wrong reasons, they find it easier to relax, talk and be themselves, rather than worry about their appearance.  Vickie admitted being thrilled recently when meeting a person for the second time and finding out she hadn’t made a significant impression.  “She didn’t remember meeting me just two weeks prior,” Vickie reported, “which makes me normal for once!”  Before, the birthmark made such an impression, people remembered only that about her.  Now, they remember or forget based on her, not a mark on her face and neck.

Cosmetic procedures aren’t just for women. 

Increasingly, men are getting on the bandwagon of self-improvement.  Edwin, a 48 year old male, had surgery to remove a bump on his forehead that bothered him for years.  He wasn’t the Elephant Man by any means, but he was increasingly bothered by the obvious lump above his eyebrow.  Removing it made it easier for him to relax and forget about his appearance.

Cosmetic procedures are a wonderful thing but must be kept in perspective.  They are not for everybody, but everybody can have a cosmetic procedure if need be. It isn’t magic and you won’t be the belle of the ball simply because you had some unsightly moles removed.  But if you feel more relaxed and pleased with your appearance, your self-esteem improves and so does your confidence level.  That alone is worth a cosmetic procedure or two.

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Today’s guest blogger, Doreen Brown enjoys blogging on various topics she is passionate about including health & beauty for her clients, including Absolute Cosmetic Medicine. In her spare time you can find her spending time with her two boys and secretly eating chocolate once they’re sound asleep in bed.

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Note-  All views expressed in this blog post are the personal opinions of the guest blogger. mySkin.com doesn’t favor any particular skincare brand or take advertising from any of them. Our scientific algorithm is entirely unbiased based on your skin profile.
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There are 5 comments

  1. Anna Johnson

    I would maybe consider surgery if my appearance was interfering with my daily routine. i don’t like seeing people who have taken things to far though and I wonder about the ethics of the practitioner who let them get there.

  2. Holly Sellwood

    I really don’t consider having a plastic surgery, I am with the way I look. But then if people do feel happy about having a cosmetic surgery then I don’t see a problem. For many the change caused due to a surgery is immense. They become more confident and their attitude gets better. Just make sure that the surgery suits our body. Also try getting as much information as possible about the surgery you are about to undergo. Have a look at the latest trends in cosmetic treatment field.
    http://www.theplasticsurgerypost.com/cosmetic-surgery/looking-ahead-cosmetic-surgery-trends-for-2014/

  3. alex khesh

    Miss Doreen Brown,

    Given the fact that the number of cosmetic procedures has never been higher, this is a very relevant and timely post that offers great insight into the world of plastic surgery. As a pre-med college student hoping to specialize in plastic surgery, I found this post to be both stimulating and intriguing. Before the development of cosmetic surgery, self-esteem always came from within. Now, it can come from saline and silicone implants, Botox injections, or a scalpel and some anesthesia. Everyone wants to look younger, more fresh and less tired. Whether it be in the workplace or in a relationship, we all want to look good. However, as you mention in your post, no one is perfect. You state that “if the flaw is distracting […] and can be fixed, the attitude is, why not have something done?” While I do agree that elective cosmetic surgery can significantly boost self-esteem, I think it is important to be aware of the psychological motives behind it. For example, individuals suffering from body dysmorphic disorder have an intense obsession over an imagined physical defect, which they believe can only be fixed with cosmetic surgery. Although this severe psychological disorder only affects up to one percent of the general population, it has been found that it is much more common among patients seeking cosmetic surgery. In a recent study, researchers observed a prevalence rate of BDD between seven and fifteen percent among these patients.. What I find hard to believe is, despite being aware of the patients’ psychological disorder, cosmetic surgeons are still operating on them. In one survey among surgeons, it was reported that only 30 percent of cosmetic surgeons believe that body dysmorphic disorder is always a contraindication for surgery. These are patients with dangerously low self-esteem, depression and anxiety issues, and in some cases, thoughts of suicide, yet surgeons saw fit to operate. I am curious to know how you feel about the role of BDD in cosmetic surgery, along with the lack of responsibility shown by plastic surgeons.

    In a study with a sample consisting of 281 board-certified plastic surgeons, it was found that the post-surgical psychological complications were much more prevalent than physical problems, such as infection. Over 95 percent of the surgeons in the study reported cases of anxiety reactions, depression and sleep disorders. Of the 281 surgeons, only 18 percent agreed that screening for post-traumatic stress disorder was important, even though 86 percent of them had diagnosed PTSD and anxiety in their postoperative reports. If patients seeking cosmetic surgery were to be screened by a psychiatrist prior to their consultation with the surgeon, their psychological stability could be evaluated, then depending on the evaluation, could be cleared or not for surgery. Furthermore, patients with a history of psychological disorders should be required to undergo multiple thorough screenings in order to prevent these negative psychological effects. I hope you agree that cosmetic surgery should not be taken lightly and that patients and surgeons should have an open dialogue about these potential dangers.

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