Self esteem is a long term process. There are many aspects of self esteem, including specific self esteem. Specific self esteem includes traits such as your eye color, hair, or what you like about yourself or appearance. Global self esteem refers to the overall feeling that a woman may have about herself, i.e. being a nice person, creative, or smart, athletic, etc.
A woman will consider cosmetic surgery if she appraises her body image as less flattering. Women take into consideration having cosmetic surgery by learning through a process through television, media, conversations with friends, and meeting with a surgeon privately.
After a woman decides to have a certain procedure, she will have a better understanding of what the surgery will entail after discussing the operation with her doctor. Often times cosmetic surgeons will discuss and give advice on healthy diet and exercise in order to receive optimal results for the patient. There may be cases where it may not matter if a woman exercises or diets depending upon her health or physical body (such as liposuction or enhancement, botox treatments, juviderm, etc.).
Women who consider surgery have identified areas in their life that they want to fix in order to achieve feelings of self worth. For some women cosmetic surgery may help them feel better about their body image. This may also contribute to self confidence and allow her to approach situations in a more positive manner.
“There were 174,851 cosmetic surgeries done on teenagers that were 18 years old or younger in 2005,” and although it may seem like a shocking statistics, it is becoming easier and easier for teens who are unhappy with their bodies to have cosmetic surgery before they are fully developed.
It is concerning that cosmetic surgery be the ultimate answer for teenagers without looking at any other options. Between the ages of 13 and 19, about 210,000 teenagers had plastic surgery in 2009 according to Surgery.org. Usually, teens are not mature enough to make decisions that can have long term effects.
MSN.com wrote in an article, “When studies focused on specific procedures, quality of life appeared to improve after nose jobs and facelifts, in particular. People rated their self-esteem higher after nose jobs and eyelid lifts and reported an improved body image after nose jobs.”
“In 2005, 2.1 million cosmetic surgical procedures were performed, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. More than 2 million women in the United States have breast implants, and this year more than 360,000 American women will undergo breast augmentation,” Psychcentral.com wrote in an article.
For most women, according to statistics on Psychcentral.com, sexual function, arousal, satisfaction, and attitudes were improved significantly after undergoing breast augmentation.
Women often need family and friends to be supportive of her when deciding to have cosmetic surgery and share in her joy and healing.
I chose to interview Dr. Richard Brown M.D. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, as an expert in how cosmetic surgery impacts a woman’s self esteem.
Linda Levin M.A.: Dr. Brown, what is the difference between cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery?
Dr. Richard Brown: All board certified plastic surgeons are cosmetic surgeons, but not all cosmetic surgeons are board certified plastic surgeons. A board certified plastic surgeon has been scrutinized by their peers and has 6-12 years of residency training. Usually 2-4 of those years of training are focused on the art of plastic and reconstructive surgery. A cosmetic surgeon can be any doctor, family practice, dentist, orthopedic surgeon, etc. who takes a weekend course on cosmetic surgery and then can then call themselves a cosmetic surgeon. The level of training is clearly different with board certified plastic surgeons with respect to plastic surgery procedures. Board certification is very important. Do your research, always use a board certified plastic surgeon who is certified by the board of plastic surgery.
LL: Of all the different surgeries, which is the most common surgery you perform?
Dr.B: Cosmetically, I perform a lot of breast and body surgery. Breast Augmentation with or without a breast lift is extremely common. I also perform reconstructive surgery. Breast cancer reconstruction and facial reconstruction after removal of skin cancer by a dermatologist are the most common reconstructive procedures. Interestingly the vast amount of reconstructive work complements my skills in the cosmetic arena because the principles of both types of surgeries overlap. The more you do the better you get!
LL: In your experience, do you take into consideration how a woman is feeling about herself/body image before you make a decision to take her on as a patient?
Dr.B: Absolutely. I turn many patients away if I do not feel that they are seeking a procedure for the right reasons. I spend a lot of time getting to know my patients at their consultation. It is pretty easy for me to determine if a specific procedure is right for a patient after I spend 15-20 minutes speaking to them. I have had a Rhinoplasty so I understand what the battles are about image. It has given me an edge on understanding why many of my patients want certain procedures performed.
LL: Do the majority of your patients appear to have self esteem issues? What is their primary motivation for seeing you?
Dr.B: I do not feel a majority of my patients have self esteem issues. We all have insecurities, it’s normal. The real trick, is understanding who has a few specific physical issues they deal with, and who just isn’t happy all together mentally or physically. When patients are all around unhappy I do not feel they are in a position to have a good result. Let me explain this, I can give a patient the best result ever physically, but if the mind is not in a place to be happy then a procedure can be irrelevant to overall happiness. It can be tricky. I have to be really good as a communicator and listener to determine if what a patient wants is what will make them happy or not.
LL: What is the age range for women coming in for surgeries
Dr.B: Honeslty, 18-80 years old. I see so many patients of all ages for reconstruction and for cosmetic procedures. There are so many preventative aging treatments like skin care, filler, and Botox type medications that many younger patients want, and I also see patients who are beyond those treatments and are ready for other procedures. Average age is around 55 years old.
LL: As a surgeon, what are you hoping to accomplish for your patients?
Dr.B: I want every patient to get the result they want whether it is cosmetic or reconstructive. I want nothing more than for patients to be happy with our service. It stays with me when a patient is not happy. I pour my heart and soul into doing a good job. I also want patients to leave my office feeling like they were educated about all of the possible options. I see myself as not only a surgeon, but as an educator. I think this is so important in the field of medicine. People just want to understand, not just be told!
LL: Can you describe the different ages, cultural groups that come into your office?
Dr.B: I see women and men of all ages and ethnicities. I do it all!
LL: After a patient recovers, what type of statements or feedback do you receive from your female patients?
Dr.B: I feel like I have touched so many lives with what I do for a living. I have helped restore confidence to so many people. Nobody has a perfect record, but overall I feel our patients are not only happy with their surgical results, but with the care they get from my entire staff. We are all here to make this an easy smooth process.
LL: Can cosmetic surgery be addictive in your experience?
Dr.B: It can be addictive, but fortunately I have not had that problem in my practice. As I alluded to in a prior question, I really spend time getting to know my patients mentally before I even look at the physical. Because of that I am able to screen for patients who I feel are seeking procedures for the right reasons. When you pick the right patient and the right procedure for them it is usually a good formula for success, and because of that I do not get too many patients that I feel are “addicted.” I do get patients back for multiple procedures because they are so happy with their results in one area and want to pursue another area.