The Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons will soon release the details of a new research study on the psychology of cosmetic surgery. In the past, patients have been thoroughly evaluated before undergoing cosmetic surgery. However, post-surgical follow up of a psychological nature has been rare and covered a small period of time, generally around six to nine months.
The new research covers a five year follow up period. This unique period of time permitted the researchers to study the psychological effects of cosmetic surgery on the patients over time.
Studying the Psychology of Cosmetic Surgery
During the research, scientists observed that the patients, overall, showed improved body image after surgery, as well as small improvements in confidence and self esteem. These patients had sought out a doctor to modify a specific problem they observed with their body, and were generally happy with the result.
The pre-release abstract of the study also notes, however, that patients underwent cosmetic surgery and experienced mental health issues had somewhat different results. These patients still had body image issues five years later, and remained unsatisfied with their appearance even after undergoing surgical correction. They were unhappy that the surgery had not fixed their problems, when, in reality, the issue was not one of appearance but one of perspective.
This research demonstrates that while cosmetic surgery can, indeed, improve one’s physical appearance, it is not a cure all. The researchers advise that surgeons note the mental health of their patients during the initial consultation. A referral to a mental health practitioner could be beneficial in select cases before cosmetic surgery can be attempted, to be sure that the patient is satisfied with the results and has no underlying psychological issues.