Cosmetic Surgery Is Not Always About Vanity

Paul Myers MBA

A discussion about human motivations for cosmetic surgery
Cosmetic SurgeonImage by Catalina Rojas from Pixabay

Plastic surgery can be misunderstood, especially by those not involved.

It can get bad press at times and people can be judged for getting it. But in reality, people turn to surgery for a huge number of reasons.

Outsiders often dismiss it as vanity.

For many people who seek out plastic surgery, it’s not about vanity at all.

Hospitals around the world specialise in reconstructive surgery. Meaning that they help people who have been disfigured from things like assault, disease or from accidents.

There are three common areas:

  1. Breast augmentation after breast cancer
  2. Burn care for victims of a fire
  3. Lastly, aesthetic surgery of the face, body, breast or body

Many surgeons work on the reconstructive side for their patients, with some cosmetic procedures.

Then there’s those in the middle, where the line is blurred, like:

  • For someone with a badly broken nose
  • Or those who have breathing difficulties due to breaking their nose years prior to seeking rhinoplasty
  • Men or women with very large breasts
  • Or either gender with congenital problems causing impaired development
  • Victims of an assault or a car accident

So treatment is not always purely cosmetic, certainly not vanity.

When procedures are sought by patients without a medical need, surgeons take time to understand exactly why.

Patients motivations can vary. Some are deemed a good reason for surgery, but others are not so.

Some things are realistic to achieve but many are not.

Taking the time to understand is an empathic process that professionals must develop.

The risks and aftercare

Also, medical and physical suitability is a huge consideration. Any surgery, especially a long surgery, requires recovery time.

Not to mention the complications, risks, psychological and emotional implications that can impact anyone who undergoes surgery.

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On hearing about the risks some opt not to proceed, whereas others may even be turned away on ethical grounds.

At times surgeons may refuse people if they believe that they may need psychological counselling in addition to or instead of surgery.

Surgery is not always the answer.

Social Media influence

Social media is becoming a problem in the modern world.

Apps allow people to modify their face, their body shape in virtual reality. This can cause some people to chase an impossible dream.

Virtually augmented images are not real, and in most cases, totally unrealistic to achieve.

In the real world, what’s possible for one individual is not achievable for the masses.

We all have baseline anatomy. So what can be done in an operating theatre and how we heal afterwards are huge considerations.

Filtering or Photoshopping an image is not the same thing.

Social media blurs the boundary, miles from the possible to what’s realistic.

Surgery practices are getting on board to drive business. In some countries, advertising and practising standards are much stricter than in others.
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Cosmetic “surgeons” or “doctors” or are not consistently regulated. Also, not everyone claiming to be a plastic surgeon is qualified.

Ethical standards govern the way to market cosmetic services. So beware of clinics that make unrealistic claims about the results, and skip over the risks and impact of post-op recovery.

So always do your homework.

Pandemic patient groups

The vast majority of patients are in one of three groups.

  1. 20-somethings: The younger group looking for rhinoplasty or breast surgery
  2. 30/40-somethings: Women in their 30s and 40s looking for breast or tummy augmentation post-pregnancy to get back to where they were pre-baby
  3. 50-plus: Those concerned about facial ageing

Like any industry, the pandemic has brought challenges. Public healthcare tends to prioritise those with acute burns, skin/breast cancer and trauma victims, whereas other surgeries are deprioritised.

During Covid-19, cancer patients were normally offered immediate reconstruction at the same time as a mastectomy for example, which are now being deferred. So many patients are on a waiting list.

Another side effect of the global pandemic is the impact on overseas patients. Travel restrictions mean that many are restricted as to where they can get surgery.

Also, cosmetic surgeries use products like fillers or Botox, often imported, so it remains to be seen what the long term impact of supply disruption will have on the industry.

Either way, before you go under the knife, understand your reasons why before even considering when, where and how much it will cost.

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