The Psychological Impact of Plastic Surgery: How Many People Feel Better After Going Under the Knife?

In a recent study, Sarwer, also an associate professor of psychology at the Center for Human Appearance at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, found that one year after undergoing cosmetic surgery, 87 percent of patients reported being satisfied with the outcome and feeling better about themselves. This was particularly true for women who underwent reduction mammoplasty. Areas of functioning that showed improvement included “self-esteem”, distress and shyness, and “quality of life”. However, many of these studies have methodological limitations, such as small sample sizes and a potentially biased determination.

It could be said that patients who agree to participate in this type of research and undergo interviews before and after the intervention represent a biased group, but none of the studies estimated the extent of this possible bias. In addition, clinical interviews may be subject to bias on the part of both the respondent and the interviewer, and very few studies used “blind” evaluators. Of particular concern is the fact that not all studies used valid assessment tools, making it difficult to interpret the results. Finally, most of the studies evaluated very specific procedures and it is not clear how generalizable their results are to other types of aesthetic interventions. In fact, Furnas pointed out that trust is the most common thing patients show after undergoing cosmetic procedures.

For those who feel distress related to their appearance, cosmetic procedures can be a way to increase confidence and improve self-esteem. Thanks to plastic surgery, many patients have been able to experience reduced levels of depression and anxiety, as well as better acceptance and a greater sense of satisfaction. Most studies indicate that, in general, people are satisfied with the outcome of cosmetic procedures, but little rigorous evaluation has been done. Many people who experience feelings of negative body image also suffer devastating emotional consequences, such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, which can be detrimental to interpersonal relationships, self-love, and even professional progress. All ASPS members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited centers, and follow strict safety and ethical standards. Every year, more and more people around the world undergo procedures to change their appearance, from breast augmentations to “touch-ups” such as lip fillers and Botox.

Rhinoplasty was performed on 102,943 people (2.2% of the total number of procedures) and 100,203 facelifts (2.2%), 191,583 breast augmentation procedures (4.2%) and 89,769 breast reductions (1.9%) were performed. One of the primary objectives of plastic surgery procedures is to help patients increase their self-esteem and self-confidence by providing them with a body or facial image that meets their desires. In other words, there is a risk that cosmetic surgery will worsen existing mental health problems in some people. The correlation between physical appearance and mental health has been studied for several years, and many plastic surgery patients have reported improvements in their mental well-being after surgery. Research also shows that people who have low self-esteem or who have been teased for their appearance are more likely to have cosmetic surgery. Since 1992, ASPS has been the source of statistical trends in aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery in the United States, and this series represents more than three decades of procedural data. However, when a patient is in that stable and healthy emotional state, plastic surgery can increase confidence and improve the person's perspective so that it can alleviate some of the insecurities they have.

In addition, plastic surgery often helps those with body image problems by restoring their sense of attractiveness and dignity. Plastic surgery procedures can be especially transformative for people who have had difficulty changing certain aspects of their appearance through non-surgical methods. Research has also shown that people with symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder (a concern or obsession with some aspect of appearance) do not improve their psychological well-being after surgery. Weinfeld is very interested in the psychological impact of plastic surgery and considers these factors when interacting with patients. The results from Sarwer's study suggest that most people feel better after undergoing plastic surgery.

However, it is important to note that there are potential risks associated with any type of surgical procedure. It is important for potential patients to consult with a qualified plastic surgeon before making any decisions about undergoing cosmetic surgery.

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