Research Paper On Plastic Surgery And Self-Esteem
Plastic surgery is known to have been used as early as 4000 years ago. According to various sources the reconstructive surgeries including skin grafting were conducted back in 600-800 BC in India; these are among the first surgeries to be officially documented (“The History of Plastic Surgery | American Society of Plastic Surgeons”). Additionally, many resources report plastic surgery to be worth the benefit in self-esteem. Research Paper On Plastic Surgery And Self-Esteem.
The reasons for resorting to reshape one’s body can be different: either a person wants to make a disfigured body beautiful again, use the surgery to fix the problems that endanger the physical existence, or use it solely to enhance the beauty and boost self-esteem. More and more people all over the world tend to be operated under the surgeon’s knife to change their body forever. Whereas most reconstructive surgeries are prescribed by doctors based on solid reasons, most cosmetic surgeries are solely the decisions of the future patients. The acceleration of the plastic surgery development in the last couple of centuries, and the drastic improvement of its methods after World War I and World War II have attracted millions of people all over the world to have various parts of their bodies reshaped in accordance with the modern and constantly changing standards of beauty. Both the development of the information technologies and the growing influence of the Hollywood and fashion beauty stereotypes have affected the minds of several generations. Many discussions are held about the danger of the new ideals and easy accessibility of the ways to attain them. Indeed, the distorted views on the nature of human’s beauty may dramatically affect the life of a person with unstable psychological conditions, either a teenager in his or her puberty, or a grown-up with the self-esteem issues. It is wrong to think that you look ugly if your eyes are of almond shape when the fashionable magazines promote the models with round blue eyes only. Research Paper On Plastic Surgery And Self-Esteem. There is no need to run to a plastic surgeon and beg to change the shape of your eyes. Fashion and the standards of beauty change every once in a while, and it is impossible to meet those “standards” constantly. It is rather important to analyze your own beauty, highlight the advantages of your body and hide the drawbacks. In reality, the individual beauty is of greater value nowadays as the models with round blue eyes eventually look alike and lose their unique charm and attractiveness.
Nonetheless, it is common knowledge that every culture has its own ideals of beauty. The domination of the Western standards of beauty in the countries recently affected by the Western culture, and the culture of the United States in particular, have been resulted in the increase of the cosmetic surgery in popularity. Grobman suggests the following examples in his “Vital Statistics”:
South Korea has the highest ratio of cosmetic surgeons to citizens worldwide, but Brazil has the most cosmetic surgical procedures per capita. The most popular cosmetic procedure in Asia is eyelid surgery. Argentina has the highest ratio of breast enlargements worldwide. (qtd. in Donahoe)
The statistics also shows that the highest rates of various plastic surgeries are not accumulated only in one particular region of the planet but, in reality, they are distributed all over the world. Thus, South Korea is currently top dog of liposuction surgery, rhinoplasty and blepharoplasty. The second on the list is Greece where the breast enlargement is the highest ranked plastic surgery in the country, and penis enlargement surgery is the most popular phenomenon worldwide. The countries that follow Greece and South Korea according to the rating are Italy, Brazil, Colombia, the United States and Taiwan (Conley). In some countries like Korea, people turn to aesthetic surgeries as these procedures have already become a part of the culture. According to Seoul TouchUp website:
The plastic surgery industry is valued as a national asset – one that leads thousands of people to the land that is predisposed to the aesthetic beauty. Research Paper On Plastic Surgery And Self-Esteem. It is here that the cosmetic surgery is viewed as a practical issue in an extremely competitive world. Many Koreans believe having the right face makes the difference between success and failure. (Seoul TouchUp)
However, it is nonsense to erase the natural features of your body that characterize your ethnic identity and to try to look similar to another cultural group that is popular nowadays. It has become a great psychological issue as well because many people are trying to keep up with mass culture and don’t pay attention to the peculiarities of their folk culture. Consequently, the people who struggle to modify their appearance in order to make it look similar to the most popular culture will most likely lose their sense of identity. Furthermore, the increasing accessibility of the services of plastic surgery caused the number of unnecessary operations making people look uniform.
Many medical professionals argue whether the plastic surgeries boost self-esteem or not, however, the direct experience of people who underwent plastic surgery is the best evidence. Needless to say, each case is different as the decision to use a plastic surgeon’s services can be made under different life circumstances. However, it is clearly understandable that those people, using reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, which is not vital for their life, are doing this to get a better impression about their appearance. If people don’t care about their physical look, they won’t turn to the invasive and risky procedures that are usually followed by a painful recovery process, for the sake of having a better look. Most people, who desire the surgical intervention, are trying to become more socially adapted and have a stronger self-belief. Though, not everyone acknowledges the lack of the appropriate level of self-esteem. Moreover, some people cover it behind the possible excuses for the inability to be strong competitors on the labor market (this relates only to those who do not need the surgical intrusion to fix the disfigured body parts). Most individuals do acknowledge the optional nature of their choice and understand the possible positive changes that will follow after the surgery. The risks and pain that are associated with the procedures, thus, become the payment for a better mental state of mind. Research Paper On Plastic Surgery And Self-Esteem.
Those who undergo the surgery under the circumstances of not having a better choice than agree to the operational intervention, do not intend to escalate their self-esteem as a primary goal of the surgery. The self-esteem advancement appears in such cases as an occasional side effect that makes people feel better about their lives.
According to Professors Dr. Jürgen Margraf and Alexander von Humboldt, who investigated the psychological impact of plastic surgery on approximately 550 patients, it turned out that almost all operations increased the level of satisfaction with life and self-esteem (Medical News Today). The results of the further and more complex studies in this field have been published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science. The scientists wondered if the plastic surgery patients who had already been operated on, were psychologically different from the people who did not resort to the surgeries, i.e. if they suffered from any kind of psychological complexes. Many still believe that most of the aesthetic surgeries are the outcome of the complex of inferiority. The researchers compared the patients with people who had never undergone plastic surgeries and those who experienced it a long time ago; the results showed no significant psychological differences between the three groups. It turned out that the vast majority of patients did not expect anything impossible from the plastic surgeons. When being asked about the expectations from the procedures, most of the clients were anticipated to reply about the drastic changes in their lives they were waiting for, or to mention the surgery as a possible solution to all their problems. As it turned out, only 12% of the future patients replied in this manner, when the remaining part indicated that the reshaping would make them feel better, improve self-esteem or help to fight the aging process. In general, a successful plastic surgery is partially about the provision of the lasting improvement in the mood of the patient. The feeling of happiness was especially noticeable while comparing the plastic surgeon patients to those who never turned to surgery. Research Paper On Plastic Surgery And Self-Esteem.
The studies of Dr. Joseph F. Sobanko of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia indicate that no particular experiments and researches proved the effectiveness of the plastic surgeries in cases where the clients had had strong self-esteem problems before. Saying that the cases need further investigation, Dr. Sobanko admits:
The only justification that I could provide a reason of why we perform facial cosmetic procedures is that it has been my anecdotal experience that patients may sometimes feel better with even a slight improvement in appearance. (Doyle)
Another study conducted by Cynthia Figueroa-Haas, a clinical assistant professor at the University Of Florida College Of Nursing, argues that there are genuine improvements in the mental health of women who experienced plastic surgery. Figueroa-Haas’ research is based on the responses from 84 women aged 21-57 years old. Before the patients underwent the cosmetic or reconstructive surgeries, they all received special questionnaires, tests and forms regarding their self-esteem and sexuality. The same questions were posed several months after the procedures had been completed. The study using two widely accepted scientific scales (the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Female Sexual Function Index) reveals dramatic changes in the self-worth and sexual self-perception of the former patients. While the minority of the patients showed no changes in their state of mind, the majority of the results is as follows:
The participants’ average self-esteem score increased from 20.7 to 24.9 on the 30-point Rosenberg scale, and their average female sexual function score increased from 27.2 to 31.4 on the 36-point index. Of note, after the procedure, there were substantial increases in ratings of sexual desire (a 78.6 percent increase from initial scores), arousal (81 percent increase) and satisfaction (57 percent increase). (Nauert)
The study reveals that more women attempt to find solutions to their sexuality problems by resorting to the plastic surgeries and the latter help if not find solution, but at least enhance the sexual life of a woman. Many clients are women who were not suffering from the low-esteem psychological issues until the boost of the aging process or the birth of the first child. The natural changes in a woman’s body may not require surgical interventions, but they definitely help to slow down the aging process of the soul, i.e., a woman feels younger than she is biologically. Research Paper On Plastic Surgery And Self-Esteem.Women who see their bodies shaped up to their previous forms tend to feel younger and capable of doing more things than when feeling like their real physical age. This mental rejuvenation helps a woman feel the life in all its colors when she looks in the mirror, though, it is sometimes being laughed at by the young generations. Of course, some will argue that people, who chose to undergo plastic intrusion, are likely to have severe problems with self-worth. Here it would be important to note that most clinics conduct a special testing of an applicant for cosmetic surgery before actually consenting to these services. Patients who are discovered to have big psychological issues will get a refusal and advice to turn to counseling regarding the self-esteem issues and the deeper underlying reasons for turning to the plastic surgery with the expectations of the dramatic changes in the patient’s life; other patients will be informed that the surgery is not an ultimate cure for the self-esteem issue.
My friend Ji-young decided to turn to more extreme ways to make herself feel better, and there was not a day when I judged her. Ji-young has not only undergone the rhinoplasty, but the blepharoplasty as well, making her eyes have double-eyelids. Being a Korean girl, Ji-young was taught from a very young age that the standard beauty is double-eyelids and a small pointy nose. At least that is what her parents taught her. No wonder why she decided to be operated on, as she had been basically taught since childhood that she was not good enough with her natural appearance. As a woman who is responsible for her own choices, Ji-young took her step towards feeling more confident about her looks. The underlying reason for Ji-young to turn to the surgeons lies in her persuasion that the standards of beauty she was exposed to since childhood are the most attractive ones, rather than in low self-esteem. All in all, Ji-young completed two surgeries and are not planning on having more. Her increased confidence influenced her life in many ways: from becoming happier to posting a good job not for her looks, but for her self-belief. Research Paper On Plastic Surgery And Self-Esteem.
Those who oppose the plastic surgery at any age, when it is not prescribed by the doctor, argue that the modern beauty standards make teenagers and adults forget that a natural beauty does not lie only on the outside of a person. They note that more children of the age 8-13 start undergoing the surgeries when young; however, they do not explain that such early intrusions are conducted only upon the confirmation of such necessity. The opponents appeal to the unstable and pressing Hollywood beauty standards widely advertised by the media all over the world each day. According to the opponents of the plastic surgeries as a medium to enhance self-esteem, people cannot turn to this method of the personal problem solving because the issues of self-esteem usually lie much deeper than the dissatisfaction with one’s appearance. The counter-argument lies in the very nature of the low self-esteem of people in the modern society. Being social creatures, we try to keep up with the latest trends to stay updated and fit into the society. The child that grows with the distorted views on beauty is a responsibility of a parent who failed to explain the necessity of sorting out the priorities in life and the sources of the credible information on the standards of appearance and behavior. Meanwhile, the children who cannot accept their appearance, have already grown-up and cultivated low self-esteem from living with the appearance standards that are quite far from their own body parameters. Instead of fighting with these children and teenagers, one should help them get back their confidence and a feeling of high self-worth, thus giving them a chance to become happy people in future. As plastic surgeons said in the study:
As body parts develop at different rates in different people, the opportunity to transform a teenager with low self-esteem and a crooked nose into someone with self-confidence is often justified because a well-timed operation could prevent destructive behaviors, including eating disorders, bullying and self-mutilation. Research Paper On Plastic Surgery And Self-Esteem. (Sweeney)
Whether to undergo the reconstructive or cosmetic surgery or accept oneself as an unchangeable body is a choice of each person. Some people have a strong will-power and do not need any help from the outside world to regain the confidence. Other people have not possessed the confidence from the very beginning of their lives, and before undergoing any permanent changes in their appearance, such kind of people need to consult with a counselor or therapist regarding the necessity of the surgery. Another cluster of people is composed of men and women whose confidence was lost due to some life events or maturing. All three groups of people have a choice to fix their bodies the way they can only imagine, but the possible consequences should be explained thoroughly. The studies show that the absolute majority of the patients are either experiencing the advancement, restart of their self-esteem or feeling as good as before, and only some patients feel worse than before, usually due to side effects, incompetence of the surgeon or the inability to take a thoroughly final decision about a very important part of their lives.
Being one of those who underwent forced but voluntary physical changes, and a friend of an ex-patient of the plastic surgeon, I have witnessed the results of the changes in one’s self-belief, confidence and a feeling after the procedures. Although the future generations need to be raised with different standards and explained the nature of a human’s beauty that expands beyond the physical and sexual attraction, those who grew up in a world of false promises given by TV, Hollywood and fashion, have the right to resort to the plastic surgeries within the reasonable limits, to enhance the body parts that trouble them and prevent people from living a productive life. Research Paper On Plastic Surgery And Self-Esteem.
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