Why do some young women want to change their appearance with cosmetic surgery? Money and men weren’t the answer. In a recent survey, less than 30% said they would have surgery if they had an unlimited amount of money and only 5% indicated that they would have surgery at the request of a romantic partner. The most important factors influencing college students are media images, investment in appearance, and physical comparison to others.
2.5% of those surveyed have body dysmorphic disorder. This is a preoccupation with a slight or imagined defect in appearance that causes significant disruption in daily functioning. Those women spent more than an hour per day thinking about their appearance. Their obsession was disrupting their lives, including avoiding social activity and romantic relationships. Those people should not have cosmetic surgery. They will never be satisfied with the results. Of the women without body dysmorphic disorder, 29% said they were concerned that they weren’t thin enough or that they were too fat. But body mass index showed that 77% of them weren’t overweight and 5% were clinically underweight.
40% said they would consider cosmetic surgery in the near future. Nearly half (48%) said they would consider it by middle age, and 33% said they’d think about it in their 60s. Overall, they voiced more favorable than unfavorable attitudes toward cosmetic surgery. 45% said they approved and 28% disapproved of people surgically changing their appearance to feel better about themselves. Even though they may have surgery, most women wouldn’t go public with their procedures. More than half said they would be embarrassed to tell people other than family and close friends about it.
Only 5% of college students in a recent study said they’d had cosmetic surgery. But most knew people who have been nipped, tucked, or peeled. Cosmetic surgery skyrocketed 299% from 1997 to 2003. Medical advances, greater public acceptance of cosmetic surgery, and the media probably all contributed to that. In the study of female college students aged 17-24, the most common procedures were:
When deciding if cosmetic surgery is for you, you really need to think about why you are doing it. Make sure you are doing it for yourself, not someone else. It will not reverse a very negative body image. It is not an antidote for a lack of self respect. Have realistic expectations. Anticipate improvement, not perfection. If you’re in the middle of a very stressful life circumstance, you may want to postpone cosmetic surgery. This may increase the possibility that you won’t be satisfied with the final results. Keep in mind that if you smoke or drink a lot, you face a higher risk of complications and the results from a cosmetic procedure may not last as long as you’d like.
Remember, a change in your outer appearance will not change who you are inside. It will not solve problems with boyfriends or put you in contention for a great job at your company. It may, however, result in increased self-confidence and a sense of security about yourself, thereby enriching many aspects of your life. Sometimes it is helpful to consult with a psychologist or counselor if you are unclear about your motivation to have plastic surgery. Some doctors will require this.
Make sure you can afford the expense. Cosmetic surgery isn’t covered by most health insurance plans. The costs vary depending on the procedure performed. The procedures and your recovery also take time. This depends on the procedure you’ve had done. Returning to work may take from one day to more than a month.
You may be Dissatisfied with the results. This depends on a number of factors. These include your expectations, the extent and type of surgery, how skilled your surgeon is, and your own body’s ability to heal. Beyond the risk of dissatisfaction, all the usual surgical risks apply. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, lung disease, diabetes, and/or obesity, you have a higher risk of developing complications. You’re more likely to have a smooth recovery if you’re in good overall health, are cared for by a qualified surgeon, and practice proper self-care after surgery by carefully following your doctor’s instructions.
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