What is the Psychological Impact of Cosmetic Surgery?

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The Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons plans to publish new research on the psychological impact of plastic surgery. This research is unique designed, in that patients were studied both before undergoing surgery and five years later.

In the past, cosmetic surgery patients were studied before surgery and a few months later. This research, however, interviewed patients before surgery and five years later, allowing the scientists to get a comprehensive picture of how patients adjusted to their surgical procedures. The psychological impact of plastic surgery can be clearly observed after this amount of time, making this groundbreaking research in the field.

Studying the Psychological Impact

Multiple Norwegian patients were interviewed before cosmetic surgery proceedings, about topics such as self-esteem, body image, their desired surgical outcome, and existing psychological issues. The same patients were then interviewed five years later, after living with their new image and making adjustments in their lives.

Patients, overall, showed improved body image after surgery, as well as small increases in confidence and self esteem. These patients had sought out a doctor to modify a specific problem they observed with their body, and were generally happy with the result. The study covered several types of cosmetic surgery, and wasn’t just limited, for example, to breast reconstruction surgery.

The pre-release abstract of the study also notes, however, that patients underwent cosmetic surgery and experienced mental health issues had somewhat different results. These patients still had body image issues five years later, and remained unsatisfied with their appearance even after undergoing surgical correction. They were unhappy that the surgery had not fixed their problems, when, in reality, the issue was not one of appearance but one of perspective.

This research demonstrates that while cosmetic surgery can, indeed, improve one’s physical appearance, it is not a cure all. The researchers advise that surgeons note the mental health of their patients during the initial consultation. If necessary, the surgeon can refer out to a mental health professional, instead of opting for cosmetic surgery. If the patient has no mental health issues.

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