The impact of cosmetic surgery on psychological well-being

In what emotional state can an intervention of this type place us? We answer this and other questions, so that if you decide to do it, you really know what challenges you face on a mental level and at what points you may be most vulnerable.

The impact of cosmetic surgery on psychological well-being

Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: June 15, 2022

Since childhood, we have heard that beauty is within and that the important thing is to really know people, with their values ​​and beliefs. We even consider attending to physical appearance superficial and we harshly judge those who decide to modify theirs. Nevertheless, Our appearance largely determines how we feel and how we relate to each other.; For this reason, it is interesting to know the impact of cosmetic surgery on psychological well-being.

It is estimated that more than 25 million people undergo cosmetic surgery or treatment each year in the world. And this trend has been increasing in recent times. However, far from being a matter of vanity, these procedures can lead to a significant improvement in the quality of life of patients.

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The importance of physical appearance

People who consider themselves less attractive than average often have low self-esteem.

As we said, worrying about one’s own image is not a superficial or vain attitude. In fact, it is natural for all of us to pay attention to our appearance and strive to look good. Let’s keep in mind that we are social beings by nature, we need to feel acceptance and belonging, and our image is our cover letter to the world.

The way others perceive us affects the opportunities that we will have to establish links, get a job or be successful in various areas of life. And it is that, luckily or unfortunately, if our appearance is not socially desirable, on many occasions we will not even be allowed to show our personality.

However, the impact does not only come from the reaction we provoke in others, but especially from the image we have of ourselves.

Some research has found that Those who consider themselves less attractive than average also tend to have low self-esteem and low is difficult for them to initiate interpersonal relationships and they experience unpleasant emotions such as shame, sadness, irritation or anxiety to a greater extent.

In short, psychological well-being is influenced by self-perception; and if this vision of oneself is negative, the emotional, social and personal plane will suffer.

How cosmetic surgery influences psychological well-being

Thanks to medical and technological advances, today it is possible to modify almost any aspect of a person’s physique. Signs of aging can be reversed or aesthetic “flaws” of any kind can be corrected. In this way, people manage to get rid of complexes and improve their confidence. And, in theory, this should have a positive effect on their emotionality. However, it’s not always like that.

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Some studies have analyzed the impact of cosmetic surgery on psychological well-being; and they have found that there are no significant differences regarding well-being between those who have undergone an aesthetic treatment and those who are about to undergo it. In fact, the moderate increase in well-being and satisfaction is observed only in the short term, but the effects are not lasting.

This may be due to the phenomenon known as “hedonistic adaptation”, by which people quickly get used to situations of pleasure and these stop having an impact on our well-being. It happens, for example, when finding a partner, receiving a promotion or winning the lottery. And it can also happen when undergoing an aesthetic treatment.

Secondly, surgery helps people to adapt their appearance to the established canons and, therefore, to receive greater social acceptance. One would expect this effect to have a strong impact on personal well-being, but again this is not always the case.

An investigation carried out for this purpose found that people judged as more attractive by the judges did not necessarily enjoy greater well-being. However, those who considered themselves more attractive did.

And here then seems to be the key to the matter. It is not our objective appearance that determines our happiness, nor is it even the way others see us: it is the vision we have of ourselves that is decisive.

Cosmetic surgery can help overcome some complexes.

Approach aesthetic treatments with caution and measure

From all of the above, we can infer that the impact of cosmetic surgery on psychological well-being it can be positive as long as it helps to improve the person’s self-image. That is, when it comes to a highly desired and thoughtful aesthetic treatment that addresses a complex that really causes discomfort and suffering.

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However, we cannot ignore the risks of this type of interventions, which can become a true addiction for some people and that only lead to multiple successive modifications without achieving the complete expected and desired well-being. And it is that we cannot place our worth and our self-image solely on the physical.

Emotional well-being is a personal and profound task that must be approached responsibly; Well, if you don’t work, no surgery will be able to resolve that internal deficiency.

Therefore, before performing any aesthetic procedure, both the patient and the professionals have to analyze the underlying reasons. A real increase in self-esteem that has a positive impact on well-being and relationships can be achieved, but it should not be taken lightly.

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