This month, the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons will release the results of new research on a study of cosmetic surgery and psychology.
Previously, it was believed that cosmetic surgery had generally negative effects on patients and their self esteem. This research suggests, however, that cosmetic surgery enhances self esteem, and continues to do so up to five years after the procedure is performed.
Cosmetic Surgery & Psychology: Results of New Research
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 results. Cosmetic surgery can have positive results on a person’s mental health.
However, the study abstract also notes that patients who 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 suggests that while cosmetic surgery can, indeed, improve one’s physical appearance, it is not a cure all for mental health issues. The researchers advise that surgeons note the mental health of their patients during the initial consultation. In select cases, a referral to a mental health practitioner may be necessary.