Is Cosmetic Surgery For Me?

The statement “looks don”t count” may be ideally true, but not realistically accurate; because the truth is, looks do count. And not necessarily to other people; how one looks to themselves is important.

Looking good has been one of humanity”s oldest pursuits. It”s not that every woman wants to copy Nicole Kidman”s sculpted facial muscles and high cheekbones, or that every man wants Usher”s abs of steel. Generally, there is simply a desire to be appealing; both to others, and to oneself.

To help achieve this general goal, recent improvements in cosmetic surgery have assisted numerous individuals feel good about themselves. Their old self-confidence has returned. They”re are smiling more, holding up their heads higher, and doing some of the things — like asking for a raise or asking someone out on a date — that they simply felt unable to do before.

The Psychological Benefits of Cosmetic Surgery

As you may have guessed, this article isn”t about physical cosmetic procedures; sufficient documentation exists on the Internet and in medical journals about nose lifts, collagen injections, and breast augmentation methods that are available. Instead, this article is focusing on the hidden side of the decision: the potential psychological benefits of cosmetic surgery.

The Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons is a good source of literature on this particular subject. One study, undertaken by Doctors Rankin, Borah, Perry, Arthur and Wey (1998), concluded that “cosmetic surgery produces positive psychological benefits by significantly improving quality-of-life outcomes that persist long term, without adversely affecting social support and ways of coping”.

Who Makes a Good Candidate for Plastic Surgery?

Cosmetic surgery has been called “unique”, because it”s surgery that”s often initiated by the patient, not the physician. This makes it necessary for surgeons to investigate the complex psychological make-up of candidates; their motivations and behavior must be closely scrutinized. A surgeon”s first impressions of a patient is a useful measuring stick to determine whether or not that particular patient is suitable for a specific cosmetic procedure; and more importantly, whether that patient will experience the positive psychological benefits that can arise.

Surgeons generally agree that certain personality types are not suited for cosmetic surgery; these types were drawn up by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition of the American Psychiatric Association. These types are schizoid, paranoid, histrionic, and depressive personality disorders. These are the patients who deserve closer attention because of underlying psychiatric complications, making them unfit for cosmetic surgery. In other words, these patients will likely experience added stress and trauma as a result of the surgery; rather than the other way around.

To surgery or not to surgery?

For other individuals however, the psychological advantages of aesthetic surgery can be tremendous. While it can be difficult to quantify the psychological benefits of a cosmetic procedure, sometimes all we need to do is see if a person”s outlook has changed. Dr. Donald Capuano, a plastic surgeon, said,

…an individual whose body image is aberrant or different will find it hard to form meaningful interpersonal associations and may become a social outcast, suffering psychological damage inherent in this particular type of rejection. Cosmetic surgery is somewhat of a miracle cure for patients in these unfortunate cases.


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