Considering Plastic Surgery

Cosmetic Surgery Magazine article, posted 2005

Most people seeking cosmetic surgery either want to look as youthful as they feel, or want to change something that has bothered them for years. Whether cosmetic surgery is the right choice is a question that requires some serious soul-searching and personal examination – both by you and the doctor who is about to perform your surgery. By closely evaluating why you want cosmetic surgery, you will ensure a successful surgical outcome for yourself.

From a physical standpoint, we are all candidates for anti-aging surgery as the symptoms of aging are inevitable. However, determining whether a person has good intentions and a healthy emotional outlook is crucial to a doctor when determining if a patient is appropriate for cosmetic surgery. An ideal candidate for surgery already has a healthy body image, but simply has the personal desire to improve upon a specific feature – not the entire body and mind. Pardon the pun, but a “fine line” exists between the desire for self-improvement through cosmetic surgery and a vain, unhealthy preoccupation with appearance.

Body image – defined as one’s own perception of physical appearance – can play a significant role in the self-esteem of many individuals. Cosmetic surgery has also been called “surgery of the soul”, as improving physical appearance may have a positive influence on one’s self-confidence. This is especially true in the case of children (and often adults) who are teased about “Dumbo” ears, or “Pinocchio” noses. However, patients with extreme levels of body dissatisfaction are not candidates for cosmetic surgery – as they may never be happy with themselves, regardless of how much they invest in their outside appearance. In addition, if you’re considering cosmetic surgery because you think it will help a failing marriage, or help you get the job of your dreams, you’re making the wrong decision.

Although we all have personal motivations about body image, and prioritize looks and appearance differently, the desire to look good is not only built within our character, but has also become a national obsession. Given the millions of dollars spent on cosmetics, hair care, exercise, clothing, dieting and spas, cosmetic surgery accounts for just a fraction of appearance-related expenditures. To some extent, people from all walks of life attribute much of their success and self-worth on the way they look – and to a certain extent it is true.

Relevant life situations such as education, employment, health, legal proceedings and romantic encounters are all influenced by the way we look.

Motivating factors for plastic surgery are often influenced by a major life episode, such as a career move. Whether it’s an executive jockeying for position among younger business colleagues, or a worker who wants to correct an undesirable feature, we are intent on looking good. Therefore, it is no surprise the number of plastic surgery procedures performed each year increases dramatically.

“… cosmetic surgery is an improvement not complete perfection.”

In an effort to eliminate unhappy patients, heightened efforts have been made by surgeons to determine a patient’s true motivation prior to surgery. Through in-depth consultation, and the use of educational brochures and materials, both doctor and patient can assess whether or not the procedure of choice is indeed the right choice after all.

Having structured hundreds of marketing campaigns for cosmetic surgeons over the years, I have observed many decision-making methods used to help a patient determine whether cosmetic surgery is right for them or not. The most valuable method I have observed is that of personal contact with a patient who has undergone the same procedures as you. In many instances, especially in hair restoration, doctors team up prospective and former patients, who share the same balding pattern, are in the same age range and have similar hair coloring. This way the patient can see the results with his own eyes and share the surgical experience. Relating with the experiences of former patients over the telephone, at an educational seminar, in a newsletter, or by seeing a news story on TV or in the newspaper, can help play a major role in your decision making process.

The most important thing to remember is that cosmetic surgery is an improvement-not complete perfection. It can improve your image and your self-confidence, but it is not a cure-all for deep-rooted social or emotional issues. By exercising a little discretion, both you and your doctor will be satisfied both physically and emotionally by the results of your surgery.

Angela O’Mara is President of The Professional Image, Inc.