A recent study presented at the 30th Anniversary Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) finds that individuals who undergo various plastic surgery procedures enjoy a positive psychological effect, improved quality of life and increased perceptions of well-being.
"The purpose of cosmetic surgery is to improve a person's psychological functioning by modifying their body image," said plastic surgeon Dr. Gregory Borah, author of a 1997 study on the effects of plastic surgery. "This prospective study is important because it demonstrates that objective measurements of a patient's quality of life are improved after cosmetic surgery."
According to ASAPS, the study involved 105 cosmetic plastic surgery patients between the ages of 18 and 70. Researchers found that most participants experienced positive effects, such as increased quality of life, following their procedures.
However, experts warn that while many people choose plastic surgery to discreetly improve their appearance, drastic changes can be shocking to some. A recent article on Buzzfeed.com examines those who have issues with their identity after drastic plastic surgery, like Heidi Montag, who many believe has body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). This psychological condition is a “red flag” for plastic surgeons who screen patients to make sure they are not having surgery to become a different person or make a perfect image.
One plastic surgeon from New York screens patients for psychological disorders and if he suspects a problem, refers them to a psychiatrist. Although “most surgeons are increasingly aware of a need for psychological screening,” experts warn, “there are unscrupulous people in every field.”
Sociologists and therapists suggest that cosmetic changes over the course of many years might be an easier adjustment than extreme plastic surgery. A person’s identity forms at adolescence and major changes could cause a shock. As always, it is best to consult with board-certified plastic surgeons while considering cosmetic surgery to make the best choice for you.