Cosmetic procedures and mental health have an undeniable link. In the best-case scenario, plastic surgery is a sound decision that can improve self-confidence and self-worth. However, the far more common case is someone who’s in a bad mental health state thinking plastic surgery is going to be the cure for all their problems. Let’s take a closer look at the complicated relationship between plastic surgery and mental health.
Mental Health Benefits of Plastic Surgery
Plastic surgery isn’t always a bad thing. For some people, it can be a great decision that has many benefits, including mental health benefits.
Most obviously, plastic surgery can help build a person’s self-esteem. If someone has felt insecure all their life because of a particular part of their appearance, plastic surgery can be a fix. And if confidence is improved, it can improve overall mood and reduce anxiety and depression.
Additionally, plastic surgery can offer what feels like a fresh start. If an individual has been through a particularly rough mental health path, plastic surgery can help feel like a new beginning.
Negative Psychological Impact of Cosmetic Surgery
Of course, you can’t talk about plastic surgery’s effects on well-being without mentioning the downsides. Here are some of the negative mental health impacts of plastic surgery:
- Ignoring the real problem. Someone might turn to cosmetic surgery as a “feel good” quick fix when struggling with their mental health. In this case, the plastic surgery is a temporary fix. It won’t address the real problem, and the person will return to their previous struggles quickly.
- Not thinking long-term. If someone is dealing with serious mental health issues, they might not be clearly thinking about the long-term consequences of plastic surgery. For example, if someone has bipolar disorder and gets work done during a manic episode, they may regret it later.
- Risk of disassociation with yourself. Someone might experience adverse mental health side effects post-surgery if they feel they no longer recognize themselves in the mirror. This can cause anxiety and depression as the individual comes to terms with the changes they’ve made.
- Influence of body dysmorphia. Someone struggling with body dysmorphia can’t interpret their body well and may make poor choices about plastic surgery due to their condition.
Cosmetic Procedures and Mental Health: The Statistics
A 2022 systematic review found that people who seek cosmetic surgery have high rates of existing mental health conditions. The study found the rates of depression (5%-26%), anxiety (11%-22%) and personality disorders (0%-53%) for people interested in getting plastic surgery were higher than those of the general population (respectively 10%, 16% and 12%).
Another 2022 study found that people who go through cosmetic procedures tend to have higher-than-average rates of mood disorders.
The data here seems to tell a story that those struggling with mental health issues are more prone to wanting and pursuing plastic surgery. This makes sense, as someone with a mental health disorder may be unhappy with how they feel about themselves. And if they don’t understand that their unhappiness stems from struggling with mental health, they might seek to alter their physical appearance as a fast, easy solution.
Factors Influencing the Decision for Cosmetic Procedures
When it comes to the discussion around cosmetic procedures and mental health, it’s important to evaluate what the driving decision is for getting plastic surgery. Some of the most common reasons for undergoing cosmetic surgery are:
- Improving psychological well-being
- Finding a better job
- Media influence
- Health status
- Increasing comfort in social settings
Before going down this route, it’s essential to really evaluate the motivation. Generally speaking, getting plastic surgery when you’re in a bad mental health state isn’t a good idea, as your judgment may be clouded.
If you’re happy and healthy and want to improve something that’s bugged you for years, this decision is probably sound. But if you’re dealing with mental health issues, you need to know that cosmetic surgery won’t be the answer to your problems.
Considering Alternatives for Mental Health Improvement
Plastic surgery is an expensive and potentially permanent decision. Instead of jumping into this drastic change, explore if other answers are out there. If you’re struggling with a mental health condition, getting proper treatment for this condition will likely improve your mood and may help kill the desire for physical alteration.
Alternatively, if you want to get cosmetic surgery because of insecurities, ask yourself if there’s some work around self-love that can help instead. Remember that we’re all heavily influenced by pressures around our appearances. We see images of photoshopped models, stunning actors and impossibly fit athletes every day. Naturally, we compare ourselves to these people who have more time and resources to direct to their appearance. Ask yourself if societal pressures are getting to you.
A professional therapist can help you understand what’s at the root of your insecurities and teach you positive self-talk that can aim to boost your self-esteem without surgery. Self-love is an important skill to have. Without it, you may find that one surgery doesn’t fill the void and go back for more and more plastic surgery work.
Consulting Mental Health Professionals for Comprehensive Support
When a person wants to go through a gender transition, they’re required to speak to a mental health professional. This therapist will evaluate their state of mind to ensure they’re in a clear space to understand their decision.
It might not be mandated for “regular” plastic surgery, but this step could massively benefit anyone considering cosmetic work. Even if you think you’re pursuing this step with a level head, take the time to speak to a mental health professional. They can offer some insight into what’s driving this need and offer advice on any mental health work that should be done before committing to plastic surgery.
Consider this step a “health check” before you get the cosmetic work done. Your plastic surgeon will do a physical exam to ensure your body can handle the procedure. So, why not have a “mental health exam” to also confirm your mind is in a good place for the surgery?
Mental Health Treatment at Sun Health Center
Before you consider taking any life-altering steps, speak to a mental health professional for advice. Sun Health Center is a mental health treatment facility that helps patients feel the best version of themselves. We have a variety of mental health programs that can fit your needs, from telehealth to neurotherapy. Contact us today to find out more.