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Can Plastic Surgery Boost Your Self Esteem?

Exercising on the beach in public

Would You Exercise in a Bikini on the Beach?

People who have never undergone plastic surgery often view the benefits as being purely physical. In truth, while the procedures themselves are physical operations with results that are sometimes subtle and at other times more physically impressive, one of the best and most enduring results of plastic surgery is the long-term boost in self esteem.

Who Experiences a Boost in Self Esteem?

The psychological benefits of plastic surgery are no secret to those who have undergone procedures. For patients with a noticeable birth defect or those who have suffered some bodily damage after an accident, social anxiety and psychological stress can be debilitating. For these patients, reconstructive plastic surgery is a way to restore both self-confidence and self esteem.

Other individuals experience distress because changes like weight gain or pregnancy have taken a toll on their physical appearance. Despite a healthy diet and active lifestyle, many people unable to alter specific body areas (think about a long nose, sagging breasts, or back fat that just won’t go away). At times, the distress is severe enough to cause plummeting self esteem.  To be clear, plastic surgery is not a cure for depression. What I find more intriguing is the patients who are more subtly affected by their appearance.  These are people who are otherwise well adjusted but have one or two areas of their body that they would love to change.  I’m talking about the women who say they are “done wearing a bikini”, and the men who will never go shirtless in public because gynecomastia caused them to develop a breasts on their chests.  In these cases, procedures such as a tummy tuck, liposuction or a mommy makeover can result in cosmetic improvements that, again, boost the patient’s self-confidence and self esteem.

Men, women and even children benefit from plastic surgery in very real physical and psychological ways. For example, men who have undergone breast reductions and tummy tucks feel a renewed sense of self-confidence in both social situations and in personal relationships.

Finally, women and men who are experiencing signs of aging report feeling more youthful and self-confident after even minor procedures such as Botox or Smartlipo.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. The following studies highlight the positive effects of plastic surgery on self esteem, self-confidence and overall quality of life.

A Boost in Individual Happiness

As Surgery.org reports, a study has shown that individuals who have undergone plastic surgery are happier overall. The study compared a number of individuals that had undergone a procedure with participants who wanted to have plastic surgery but didn’t go through with it. Finally, all of those participants were compared with participants who were not interested in plastic surgery.

When comparing the patients who had surgery with those who did not, the plastic surgery patients were found to have higher self-esteem, experience less anxiety and feel healthier overall.

Feel Healthier in Mind and Body 

That same study found that the patients that opted for plastic surgery reported that they were happy with their whole body and complete self image, rather than just being happy with the area that was worked on.

Positive Changes in Relationships 

A study conducted at Cornell University included over 100 patients who underwent plastic surgery, including breast lifts and other cosmetic procedures. A majority of the patients reported six months after the surgery that it had made overall positive changes in their lives. These included positive changes in their relationships with significant others, changes in their sex lives, and also positive changes in their overall social lives.

More Confident in the Workplace

Another study, completed by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, suggests that patients who had undergone plastic surgery procedures were less negative about their bodies and self-image in both their work environments and personal/social settings.

Higher quality of life, increased self-confidence and self esteem, and positive improvements in relationships—the list of benefits becomes apparent the more you read. However, it is important to note that there is a common influential factor: The overwhelming majority of patients who experience these positive effects went into their procedures with realistic expectations.

No plastic surgery procedure is a cure all, and the perfect body is a constantly moving target. However, if you have specific goals and realistic expectations, plastic surgery can enhance your self esteem and quality of life along with your physical appearance.

Have you experienced a boost in self esteem after a cosmetic procedure? If so, let us know in the comments!

 

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Dr. Thomas P. Sterry

Thomas Sterry, MD, is a board-certified New York City plastic surgeon with over a decade of experience. At his inviting, boutique-style practice in Manhattan, he focuses on each patient's unique needs and aesthetic goals so that he can provide the most attractive and natural-looking outcomes possible.

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