Combating stigma around plastic surgery

Combating the Stigma Around Plastic Surgery

Where does the stigma around plastic surgery come from? A recent clinical study revealed that over 50% of patients report suffering from symptoms of depression in the first five days following a cosmetic plastic surgery–even though they report an improved sense of well-being and satisfaction within a year of the procedure. Physical recovery is a key part of the surgical process, but emotional recovery has rarely received the same level of attention. Studies have shown that people who undergo these procedures are generally happy with the outcome, yet stigma and self-consciousness around cosmetic surgery persists.

Where Does the Stigma Around Plastic Surgery Come From?

Much of the stigma around plastic surgery comes in the wake of a poor result–either when too much work has been done, or when work has been done carelessly. In the past, the face-lift was often the one-size-fits-all solution, focusing only on the skin and ignoring issues of volume loss, wrinkles, and sunspots. Now, with greater resources and expertise at our disposal, we’re much more able to customize the procedure to suit how an individual patient ages, leading to a more natural-looking result.

Stigma Plastic Surgery

There are numerous reasons why patients may choose surgery: to look more attractive, gain confidence and self-esteem, or improve their job opportunities. Yet, in spite of the benefits, many patients experience anxiety around revealing their surgical work. Visibility is the first step in reducing this stigma around plastic surgery. High-profile patients like Marc Jacobs, Chrissy Teigen, and Sonja Morgan have already opened up about their own experiences. Yet for every celebrity willing to discuss their surgery, numerous other myths of natural remedies for youthfulness continue to circulate (wink, J. Lo and her olive oil).

It’s important that patients feel open about their choice to pursue surgery, so that they can find the emotional support they need in their recovery. Onset of short-term depressive symptoms can be greatly reduced with proper social support. More “restorative” procedures, such as the face-lift, can also have less of an emotional impact following surgery than more extensive “type change” (an example is rhinoplasty) procedures.

Some symptoms of post-operative depression include:

  • lack of energy level
  • lack of interest
  • social withdrawal

Engaging with family members and letting your physician or plastic surgeon know you are having these symptoms can help start the road to recovery, allowing you to get over these symptoms and potentially open up to your social circle.

The Future of Plastic Surgery

It may take years before we see a cultural shift towards de-stigmatization of cosmetic surgery, but the tide is beginning to turn. Once patients recover from the initial surgery and realize their appearance hasn’t been too drastically altered, they often report a decrease in depressive symptoms. And today’s mid-life patients who regularly use injectables show a greater openness to restorative surgical procedures.

Cosmetic surgery can be life-changing. As more and more patients turn to cosmetic surgery to correct minor imperfections and transform themselves, we come closer and closer to eliminating the stigma around plastic surgery and embracing acceptance.

cleveland facial plastic surgeon

Dr. Diana Ponsky is a Facial Plastic Surgeon in Cleveland, Ohio. She is Double Board Certified in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. Dr. Ponsky focuses exclusively on the face, head, and neck. Are you interested in facial rejuvenation? Schedule a consultation here.

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