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Queens Chronicle

Self-Esteem And Cosmetic Surgery

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Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2003 12:00 am

According to research these days, almost everyone knows someone who has had cosmetic surgery. People want to improve their appearance, feel better about themselves and look more youthful. Researchers today feel that cosmetic surgery patients are motivated psychologically. Cosmetic surgery can make a positive difference in a person’s life. It can improve their quality of life as well as their well being. It can be a very positive decision for some.

Flowers, like people, are all beautiful in their own way. They are constantly unfolding and getting better. Every moment is a new beginning to love our self.

Researchers have shown that by modifying one’s body image, cosmetic surgery can improve a person’s psychological functioning. In one study supported by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery—105 surgery patients between the ages of 18-70 participated in a questionnaire two weeks before surgery and then again one month and six months following surgery. The results showed a very significant improvement in the quality of life at six months following surgery compared to the quality of life before surgery. Patients showed a lower score for depression following surgery compared to prior scores before surgery.

“While dissatisfaction with one’s appearance was often dismissed as trivial vanity years ago—research has demonstrated the importance of appearance in everyday life.” Not only are more physically attractive individuals perceived more favorably than those who are less attractive, it also appears that they receive preferential treatment in interpersonal and social situations. Given this knowledge, improving one’s appearance through cosmetic surgery can often be a positive, healthy self-care strategy.

In my point of view, I also feel that cosmetic surgery is a positive option offered to people. We are born with a certain body type. As we grow older and live in society, we start to compare ourselves to others and sometimes it seems that our body parts are not as attractive as we would like them to be. Some people are strongly into cosmetic surgery for vanity reasons. Maybe their public image, their jobs or their mates are pressuring them to look better.

Maybe they themselves think that changing their outside appearance will make them feel better—and this is okay, too. Individual tastes and preferences are a personal choice for whatever reason. I feel changing the size or shape of a body part could improve one’s quality of life and self image.

For example, I had worked with a young lady who had developed a complex about the size of her nose. She was born, of course, with a baby’s nose, but as she grew up, into puberty, her nose began to look extra large compared to those in her class. Her classmates began to make fun of her. She hated herself and became withdrawn. She didn’t want to come out of the house or socialize in public. She suffered many years with this complex throughout high school and early adulthood. Then one day she decided to get reconstructive surgery. She knew that in order to live her life to the fullest, she had to go through with the cosmetic surgery.

When she went through with the surgery and was completely healed, she started to become more self-confident and self-loving. She was able to dive into society more freely without being self-conscious or fearful. She also began to laugh and become less depressed. As her complex lifted, she began the work of loving herself.

In cases such as the above one, I, too agree with cosmetic surgery. It might not be for all. It might also be too expensive for some. But, if this type of surgery enhances one’s body or can preserve one’s aging process, or can help your self-esteem, why not? Body image is a vital piece connected to living a healthy life on three levels: spiritually, physically and emotionally. I am very happy that we have this option today.

“The best relationship that I can ever have is the one that I have with me!,” Leone said.

For more information or to speak to Leone, call 718-849-4191.

(Editor’s note: Mary J. Leone is a psychotherapist specializing in Adolescent/Child Therapy, Family Therapy, Addictions/Co-dependency, Marital/Relationship Issues.)

Welcome to the discussion.