Altering our bodies has become common practice in our society today. It’s normal to see teenagers choosing nose jobs and breast augmentations as gifts for graduating high school. Adults elect to go to the plastic surgeon to try and slow the aging process and compete with the “perfect” image of beauty.
With so many procedures available and a heavy focus on beauty from the media, its no wonder the drive to have a cosmetic surgery procedure has increased. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the amount of plastic surgeries has increased 115 percent since 2000. Even with the advancement of technology and new groundbreaking procedures, the numbers are still increasing at an alarming rate.
Psychologically speaking, the availability and accepted encouragement of these procedures is causing individuals to go to plastic surgeons to “fix” them rather than improve their quality of life and self-esteem. This pattern of thinking is actually a mental health disorder termed, Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD. The ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) explains, “BDD is a body-image disorder characterized by persistent and intrusive preoccupations with an imagined or slight defect in one's appearance.”
The ADAA also stated that people with body dysmorphia “can't control their negative thoughts and don't believe people who tell them that they look fine. They may even undergo unnecessary plastic surgeries to correct perceived imperfections, never finding satisfaction with the results.” This is why many plastic surgeons now require a psychological evaluation before performing a major elative surgery.
If you are considering plastic surgery its important to be sure you’re going for the right reasons in order to be happy with the results. Below is a guideline to help determine cosmetic surgery is the right thing for you.
· Talk it through. Discuss your plans or interest for surgery with family, friends, and loved ones. Also, going to a counselor or psychologist is also very beneficial and sometimes required to ensure the elected procedure is right for you.
· Become informed. If you are considering plastic surgery it’s important you go into the procedure with all the appropriate information. Be aware of the risks, recovery time and process, and talk to others who’ve gone through the same surgery so you have a deep understanding of what to expect.
· Ask yourself questions.
o Important to understand your motivation for surgery. Ask yourself, “What are you hoping to change?” Are you trying to become more attractive in the eyes of others or are you trying to improve the way you see yourself?
o Ask yourself, “Why now?” When we go through major life changes such as a divorce, it can cause us to want a fresh start and a fresh appearance. However, a life change isn’t the right motivation to go under the knife. If you feel the surgery will provide with you a better quality of life in the way you see yourself, you have a positive view of yourself inside, and financially prepared, that’s a good indication of it being the right time.
o Then ask, “Who are you doing this for?” Are you doing this for yourself, or because of pressure you feel from others? If your husband prefers larger breasts or you want to look younger to keep the interest of your partner, I strongly encourage you to rethink the procedure.
· Manage your expectations. Imagine how you expect the surgery to change you. Do you picture yourself coming out resembling a beauty icon with many of life’s problems falling away? Trying to achieve an image is a key sign of unrealistic expectations and that plastic surgery may not be the right solution for you. The ideal expectation is for you to picture yourself feeling confident and ready to take on life with a more empowered you.
Mental health is an essential aspect to plastic surgery. There are obvious physical risks, but the psychological risks can be hidden and need to be addressed. The point of plastic surgery is to match the good you feel about yourself on the inside, to your outside. The tips above will hopefully serve as a guide to help determine if surgery is the right decision for you.
About the author:
Danielle James is a recent psychology graduate from the University of Central Florida. She has a passion for helping individuals identify and work through emotional and mental health concerns to provide a higher quality of life. Her goals include achieving her Psy.D in Clinical Psychology that allows for a deeper understanding of future clients and a more interactive perspective.