Psychology of Plastic Surgery

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Plastic surgery has been fairly common. People turn to it to fix perceived defects with their appearance or to improve the way they look. They use it to change various aspects of themselves, so a good question is: how is plastic surgery experienced psychologically? Are people satisfied with surgical shifts in appearance?


The answer is, apparently, not an easy one. Research shows that some people adjust well to plastic surgery. It gives them a boost in their body image and quality of life. For some people, fixing that specific problem they perceive with their appearance is just what they needed. However, plastic surgery can also be a predictor for depression, adjustment, problems, family problems, self-destructive behavior, and social isolation. This was true of patients who held unrealistically high expectations and who had a history of depression and anxiety.  A person who feels that all their problems might be solved by the surgery may not adjust well and may feel angry and disappointed when their expectations don’t come true.

Another factor related to the psychological experience of plastic surgery is the presence of psychiatric disorders. There are two types of disorders linked with surgery – eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder. An eating disorder may have the person feeling fat and having an unrealistic perspective of their body. Body dysmorphic disorder is a disorder characterized by an unhealthy and unreasonable preoccupation with a part of the body. The person with BDD will attempt to fix it again and again, often doing many procedures on the same part of their body without feeling satisfied.

Overall, people who do plastic surgery as a way to fix their self-esteem, to solve their problems, to fix their inner psychological distress, or as a way to express the symptoms of their disorder are not likely to adjust well, since plastic surgery can not do what they need it to do. However, people who have a specific idea for plastic surgery and who make a more balanced decision without expecting it to be a miracle cure are likely to experience it positively.

 

References

APA. (2017). Plastic surgery: Beauty or beast? Retrieved March 4, 2017, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep05/surgery.aspx

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