The Mental Health Effects of Plastic Surgery

Man looking in the mirror with blurry image – does are there mental health effects of plastic surgery?

Most people choose to have plastic surgery because they want to feel better – either physically or mentally. Some aspect of their appearance bothers them enough that it makes them self-conscious or uncomfortable. Plastic surgery may offer a way to resolve those issues.

Previously we talked about the physical health benefits that plastic surgery can provide. These include restoring balance, improving vision, and easing breathing issues. Many individuals also experience mental health benefits from pursuing a well considered plastic surgery procedure.

When someone is bothered by a specific aspect of their appearance, it can influence how they feel about themselves in general. This will vary widely from person to person, though. Some women think the changes in their body after childbearing contribute positively to their appearance, while other women miss certain aspects of their pre-child body. Some men embrace hair loss and grab a razor to help it along, while others choose to fill in their hairline and boost their confidence with hair implants.

Nobody is wrong in these scenarios – the key is acknowledging what it is that is bothering you and making an educated decision about how to address it. The boost in self-esteem that comes from taking steps toward self-improvement is powerful. This can make you feel more attractive and self-confident.

In fact, research in the journal Clinical Psychological Science compared people who had a plastic surgery procedure to those who were interested in one but didn’t have it. Those who chose to go forward with their procedures reported mental health improvements across a wide range of factors, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Social phobia
  • Goal attainment
  • Quality of life
  • Life satisfaction
  • Attractiveness
  • Well-being
  • Self-esteem

Some of these, like attractiveness or self-esteem, appear to have a direct connection to plastic surgery, but others reveal some surprising effects. Why would plastic surgery improve your goal attainment? Well, if you feel better about your appearance and your self-esteem is improved, you may be more willing to take the risks needed to achieve your goals. Regardless of the relationship, it’s safe to say that feeling good about one’s appearance has an effect beyond looking good in your favorite swimsuit (which is great, too!)

There are some caveats to these effects. Research published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery revealed some circumstances in which the psychological and psychosocial outcomes of plastic surgery were not positive. While most people in the study did report improved mental well-being, certain groups did not experience good psychosocial effects, even when their surgical results were as planned. Specifically, individuals with unrealistic expectations, previous unsatisfactory plastic surgeries, and a history of certain mental health disorders – including body dysmorphic disorder – did not gain the psychological benefits that others did.

Again, most people in this research did have positive results, but these exceptions emphasize the importance of having any cosmetic procedures performed by a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. These surgeons, like Dr. Slack, are trained not only to perform plastic surgery to the highest standards, but also to help patients understand the results they can expect from surgery. They are skilled in identifying those who are least likely to experience the positive mental health effects of plastic surgery and able to counsel them on how to move forward to achieve their goals.

When performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon, plastic surgery most often has positive effects on both physical and mental health. If you wonder whether you can benefit from plastic surgery, go ahead and schedule a consultation with Dr. Slack. There is no obligation to move forward with plastic surgery, and he will offer honest counsel on the results plastic surgery can achieve for you.