It seems as if not a year goes by without the concept of plastic surgery being in the limelight again, not in the least because so many celebrities, themselves in the limelight, seem to be having it. Unfortunately, it is quite common for them to have taken it a step too far, which is what has created the question of the impact of this surgery on psychological well-being. In fact, the American Psychological Association considers it both as beauty and beast.
The fact that celebrities have had plastic surgery is no secret. Most of us also feel that they are quite justified in doing so because their careers depend on their looks. But whether normal individuals can benefit from this form of surgery is more questionable.
Commonly Cited Reasons for Plastic Surgery
High quality plastic surgeons, like Dr. Stephanie Teotia, only perform surgery on those who have had significant counseling to determine their reasons for wanting it in the first place. Commonly, people say:
- That they hope others will like them more.
- That they are doing it for themselves because they want to.
- That they believe it will improve their self-esteem.
- That it will make them happier.
The dangers of low self-esteem have been well-documented, and if plastic surgery truly does improve this, then the decision to have it should be celebrated. However, it now appears that plastic surgery does not make people feel better about themselves. Studies on plastic surgery and psychological well-being have shown that, while an improvement in outer appearance does make people feel better, it does not offer the magic key to happiness.
Psychologists explain that physical attractiveness is perceived both by the self and by others. Studies have shown that there is no correlation between how attractive an individual find someone else, and the happiness of that person’s happiness. This means that people who, objectively, are classed as attractive are not necessarily happier as well. However, the studies did show that if someone saw themselves as attractive, they were more likely to be happy at the same time.
This may seem strange, but, on a psychological level, humans are biased about their own looks. It is very easy to feel either more or less attractive than how others perceived them. It now seems, therefore, that those internal feelings are linked directly to our happiness, far more so than what reality is.
This relates strongly to plastic surgery. If someone has surgery and they feel that they look better as a result, the inevitable result that people must feel happier as a result. A different study has examined this question in particular, determining whether having surgery improved feelings of self-esteem, self-efficacy, mental and physical health, life satisfaction, goal attainment, body dysmorphia, depression, social phobia, and anxiety. This study, and a subsequent review of it, confirmed that surgery does indeed improve these feelings but, and this is an important caveat, only in line with expectations. If someone has unrealistic expectations, it is more likely that they will be disappointed, which in turn means they feel less happy overall and should instead have considered other ways to restore damaged self-confidence.
Certain studies have also looked at specific types of plastic surgery. They found that those who opted for rhinoplasty and facelifts were more likely to have unrealistic expectations. Those who had a breast reduction or augmentation were more likely to experience greater self-esteem and self-confidence. Meanwhile, men were more likely to be dissatisfied with the results.
All in all, however, it seems that having plastic surgery, with the caveats above, does, in fact, improve people’s self-esteem.