The Psychology of Plastic Surgery

Cosmetic surgeries are nothing new in the field of medicine, nor indeed in culture; there is documented evidence of reconstructive surgical procedures to remedy birth defects and war wounds as far back as 800BC. Modern-day surgical interventions like the ‘nose job’ were pioneered in the 1400s, with skin grafting techniques were developed from the 19th century.

But cosmetic procedures are widely thought to have been developed much more recently, for a simple reason – they have become much more accessible in recent years. And with results that are much more reliable, successful use of plastic surgery by celebrities and key figures have led to runaway popularity.

The popularity of plastic surgery may have been unprecedented in the early days of development, but today is the norm. As more people seek alterations to their physical form than ever before, what are their motivations – and is there a mental health aspect to consider?

Cosmetic Procedures in the Age of Social Media

Plastic surgery had become a desirable form of aesthetic intervention in the 20th century, with the rise of glamourous celebrity culture and the rapid growth of the global cinema industry. In the last two decades, though, a new era has begun – the age of social media.

New online platforms enabled communication in hitherto unseen ways and gave birth to a new kind of celebrity in the process. Influencers garner millions of fans for simply sharing their lives and have come to have a powerful impact on beauty in the process. Cosmetic surgery has naturally seen increased interest as a result; the Kardashians were famously attributed to the rising popularity of lip filler and ‘butt lift’ procedures.

Plastic Surgery and Mental Health

The health of a given patient before they undergo a procedure is paramount – referring, in particular, to their mental wellbeing. Whether or not the above phenomenon constitutes a justifiable reason to seek surgery is a question for another time, but mental health is no joke.

When a patient seeks surgery, the practitioner they speak to must ascertain the sound mental wellbeing of the patient before surgery – and moderate their expectations for afterwards.

There are myriad reasons a person may want surgery, body dysmorphia ranking amongst them. Failure to communicate risks in surgery can worsen distress in some people where unfavourable outcomes result, and indeed constitutes a form of medical negligence – opening patients up to receiving compensation through medical negligence claims.

Should You Get a Procedure?

Cosmetic surgery is, by its nature, an intimately personal intervention. There are few better-placed to decide than you when it comes to altering your appearance – which makes knowing what you want for sure all the more important.

The act of getting plastic surgery is a fundamentally drastic one, even in the case of smaller procedures. Surgical interventions permanently change the body, while simple procedures like liposuction still involve the insertion of equipment below the skin to remove fat. If the procedure is to rectify an existing issue or improve quality of life, this becomes moot – but otherwise, this is important to consider where alternative approaches like exercise and even therapy could yield long-term satisfaction.