Seeking Self-Esteem Through Plastic Surgery
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, there were over 10 - Seeking Self-Esteem Through Plastic Surgery introduction. 2 million Cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures performed in the United States in 2008. This is an increase of 162 percent since 1997 (Nowak, R. (2006, October 19). The most common procedures done were breast augmentation, liposuction, eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty, and abdominalplasty. Cosmetic surgery has gone mainstream. There are several reasons why someone might consider plastic surgery. The most common reason reported was to improve their physical appearance, and in return boost their self-esteem. However, like all hings, there are pros and cons of this drastic, permanent decision. Plastic surgery can have many positive outcomes. The most common one is the improvement of one’s self-esteem after a positive surgery outcome. Most people who choose to get plastic surgery, do it simply because they are unhappy with the appearance of a certain part of their body. Some examples of these surgeries include breast augmentation, liposuction, body lifts, body implants, botox, hair transplants, and hair removals. Breast augmentation is the most popular plastic surgery, yet it has no real health benefits, only potential health risks.
So why would one choose to get breast augmentation? Women who have gone through this surgery report that they feel more sexually confident and empowered. In the United States, society and media portray beautiful women as tall, thin, and large busted. This may be why women associate having larger breasts with greater self-confidence and acceptance. Both men and women in the United States feel pressured to be thin and fit, in order to be considered attractive. For that reason, many people seek out quick fixes such as liposuction, body implants, and abdominalplasty.
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Plastic surgery can also provide some health benefits. There are various procedures done to help alleviate pain and discomfort, or to simply make someone more comfortable. Some examples of these surgeries are scar revision, hand surgery, cleft lip and palate repair, ear surgery, breast reduction, and breast reconstruction. Scar revision may be necessary for excessive scar formation, which could cause physical restrictions in that area. Hand surgery is chosen when someone is missing fingers, has abnormally shaped hands, or perhaps webbed fingers.
These things would affect a person’s daily life. The doctors could possibly fix these deformities so that this person could potentially live a much more normal life. Cleft lip and palate repair is done when a child has been born with this birth defect. Without the surgery, the child would suffer from difficulty nursing or being bottle fed, malnutrition, speech problems, irregular dental development, and hearing loss. Ear surgery is performed on children when their outer ear is severely deformed and leads to several different levels of hearing loss.
Breast reduction is typically performed on women with overly sized breasts that affect their daily lives. This reduction relieves back and neck problems and skin irritation. Breast reconstruction is chosen when a women has lost a breast or breasts due to cancer or the deformity of a breast. With these procedures being performed, based on health reasons only, they still provide an emotional balance in patient’s lives by making them more comfortable and functional. These surgeries make them feel more “normal” and able to live a less self-conscience life style, and fit in with societies expectations.
In return, this helps boost their self-esteem. For example, a person who previously had webbed fingers can now do things “normal” people take for granted, such as shake hands, pay their waitress without the embarrassing stares and even play sports if they so choose. The woman who previously lost her breast to cancer can now feel “woman-like” again and regain her sexuality and self-esteem, by not having to buy specialty bras and being able to make love to her significant other without the shame of being half the woman she was before.
Most people only think about the positive effects of plastic surgery, however most don’t think of the negative effects it could cause as well. People go into plastic surgery with high expectations, but then there are others who have unreasonable expectations. Also, some do not realize the permanency of the procedures. Some of the negative results of these procedures being done could appear in many ways such as scarring (physical and emotional), infections, and long term pain. Also, a person may be expecting a certain result from the surgery and be disappointed with the actual results.
This may leave them feeling worse than they did to begin with. Before a person can get the surgery, the doctors will do a consultation with the potential patient to decide if further counseling is necessary. The doctor may decide to not do the surgery if the individual shows any high risk signs that he or she is not ready for the operation. For example, an individual going through a crisis maybe seeking to achieve goals that cannot be reached through changing their appearance. The patient would be advised to work through their crisis and then consider surgery at a later date.
Also, if the doctor feels like the patient might be impossible to please, they may decide not to do the surgery at all. These patients want to fix a problem that cannot be fixed with surgery. A good example of a person who shouldn’t be considered for plastic surgery is someone suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder. These individuals believe they are ugly even if they are beautiful, also known as “imagined ugliness. ” These are the type of patients that focus on something they imagine to be wrong with their appearance and obsess on it. A study done by the Psychological Medicine (vol 36, p887), shows that at least 2. percent of female college students suffer with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. In the U. S. , it is expected that at least 1 to 2 percent of the entire population suffer from some form of BDD, ranging from mild to severe. Studies also show that a person with BDD is 45 times more likely to commit suicide compared to a “normal” thinking individual, thus proving that not all individuals are the right candidates for these surgical procedures. Another example that could make the doctor decline to do the procedure is if the patient suffers from a mental illness, such as bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia.
Although if the procedure is in fact beneficial; the doctor may go on with the procedure but only if able to do so while working in conjunction with the patients personal mental health physician. Another negative way a cosmetic surgical procedure may affect an individual is being confronted by associates, family members or close friends. If a family member sees the individual has changed a family trait, whether it be the size of their nose or their family chin, or even the color of ones skin, they may show jealousy, anger, or disappointment.
These things could cause unexpected or unwanted disapproval and make people feel threatened by their choices. The individual may notice a wedge forming between them and their friends or loved ones. This could cause loneliness and depression and maybe even self-loathing and regret. Many people find themselves asking why a person would still continue with surgery even after they have researched all the potential negative and positive effects. I believe when a person has such an obsession or desire to have the procedure done, that individual will do it despite the risks and high financial expense.
Because these procedures are permanent, painful and life changing, it’s very important to have a definite understanding of how the surgery may affect how you will feel in the long run. We each have an idea of what we believe is beautiful, and the person who is having the procedure done is the only one who needs to be happy with the results. In return, if they truly are happy with the outcome of their procedure, this person will more than likely have a greater self-esteem, and be more comfortable with themselves.
They may also be more successful in a social or work environment, and more comfortable and secure in their personal relationships. If you are truly considering having plastic or reconstructive surgery done to improve your self esteem, remember to be honest with yourself. Don’t set your expectations too high, otherwise you may be extremely disappointed with the results and experience some form of depression, in return lowering the self esteem you were searching for. Know why this procedure is right for you and what you think it will give you back after all the money spent and time put into it.
If at the end of the day you are happy and content with the life you live, and can happily look at yourself in the mirror and like what you see looking back at you, then you know that your procedure was a success. As said by David Sarwer of the Center for Human Appearance and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia “We have to believe that cosmetic surgery will improve our self esteem and body image, and make us feel better about ourselves. If not, we’re wasting an awful lot of time, effort and money. ”