A “Little Hand” to Our Self-Esteem: Cosmetic Surgeries and Mental Health

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

We are used to the constant search for perfection. How we see ourselves in front of others and even more so, with the opinions we receive on social networks makes our self-esteem rise or fall. To give us “a hand” in this process, there are cosmetic surgeries.

To begin with, we mistakenly believe that plastic surgery belongs to our century. Around 3400 BC, individuals in Egypt and India began fiddling with nose shaping. Around 800 BC, doctors in ancient India were using skin grafts for reconstructive procedures. In 1827, Dr. John Peter Mettauer performed the first cleft palate operation in the New World, using instruments of his own design. In World War I, plastic surgery procedures were created and techniques were modified to reconstruct soldier’s faces disfigured in the war. In 1917, British soldier Walter Yeo was the first person to benefit from plastic surgery. In 1951, Sir Harold Gillies performed the very first male-to-female sex change operation; and in 1952, Timmie Jean Lindsey was the first woman to receive silicone breast implants.

It is important to consider the benefits and risk of plastic surgery. Among the first are: Enhanced appearance, improved physical health, improved confidence, psychological benefits, pain is over estimated, because contrary to what many patients have stated, the pain is not as strong as is speculated, this depends on the “pain threshold” that each person has, permanent results and easily accessible to the information about this topic. On the other hand, the disadvantages are: Expense,get obsess over the results that surgeries provide, until we reach “perfection”, risk of death, does not always meet expectations; mistakes can happen, recovery time, the right surgeon, because many of the centers that offer this type of procedure are not of good quality, and therefore have unqualified personnel, who could put your life at risk, the reaction of others, depression post-surgery, etc. In this last one, it is worth pausing and asking ourselves a question: How do plastic surgeries affect our mental health?

The research “Well-Being from the Knife? Psychological Effects of Aesthetic Surgery [1] ”, published in the journal psychological science, compared people who had a plastic surgery procedure to those who were interested in one but did not have it. Those who decided to undergo their procedures stated that they improved aspects more than the physical ones, such as Anxiety, goal attainment, social phobia, attractiveness, life satisfaction, well-being, self-esteem and quality of life.

On the other hand, the research “A Review of Psychological Outcomes for Patients Seeking Cosmetic Surgery [2] ”, published in 2007 in the National Library of Medicine shows that some circumstances in which the psychological and psychosocial outcomes of plastic surgery were not positive. While most people in the study did not report improved mental well-being, certain groups did not experience good psychosocial effects, even when their surgical results were as planned.

Based on the above, it is important to highlight that among the most negative results of a plastic surgery we find Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) that, according to Broadway Plastic Surgery, is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder where people are overly concerned with their physical appearance. Not all plastic surgery patients have a disorder, but relentless cosmetic alterations can be a sign of BDD [3] .

Now, you must wonder if you are really prepared for what plastic surgery entails [4] :

  • Cosmetic surgery is not without risk, and pre-surgery nerves can exacerbate anxiety and other mental health issues.
  • It could be painful. If we do not have a good support system, it can leave us feeling overwhelmed and low, we can start to doubt our decision, be angry with ourselves, or feel lonely.
  • Surgery can also sometimes result in long-term side effects, or can cause problems years later.

So, if you have already made the decision to undergo surgery, just prepare yourself and be sure of what you will do because, as you may have realized, it is a decision that involves the past, present and future. Therefore, we offer you six tips to do it better [5] :

  1. Have all the facts
  2. Talk to your surgeon about your concerns
  3. Reflect on your reasons for having surgery
  4. Set reasonable expectations
  5. Have a support system in place
  6. Be optimistic

Finally, remember that your emotional well-being cannot be fixed cosmetically, therefore, if you feel any of the aforementioned symptoms in your mental health, you can contact Neighbors’ Consejo, and we will give you a hand too.







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