Have you ever found yourself engrossed by before-and-after photos of female celebrities who’ve had plastic surgery? What could possibly compel these women, whom some might agree possessed natural beauty in their “before” photos, to change their looks so dramatically? Why might someone like Renee Zellweger have her entire face surgically altered?
The answer is simple and complex at the same time. It’s all about self-esteem. Granted, there are cases where plastic surgery is the result of a medical need, but the majority of plastic surgery operations are opted for by people who want to feel better about their appearances. Plastic surgery is essentially a way for women (who make up about 87% of plastic surgery clientele) to mold their looks to fit how they feel like they are supposed to look.
The word “plastic” is often misconstrued within society to mean “fake.” However, it is the English derivative of the Latin plasticus and Greek plastikos, which roughly translate to “able to be molded.” Those who get plastic surgery aren’t trying to be “fake”; they simply want to mold their appearances.
Many of us have functional or emotional concerns with our bodies. As Houston’s Dr. Raghu Athré states, clients seeking plastic surgery have “functional concerns, aesthetic concerns and emotional concerns” and, as a trained medical professional, it is his job to address all of these issues. Excess neck skin or a crooked nose aren’t purely aesthetic concerns, but they also aren’t purely functional concerns. A deviated septum (when the septum in the nose is dramatically shifted away from the midline) can be restrictive of breathing abilities and cause sinus problems. It can also make a person feel less attractive. Emotional pain can result from physical complications and not feeling attractive.
How are we supposed to combat social stigmas surrounding plastic surgery? There are a few steps that we can take to correct misconceptions and educate others on the benefits of plastic surgery and why some women opt to have it done.
1. Plastic surgery is a personal choice.
Plastic surgery is a personal choice that adults have the right to make. Whether it’s part of a reconstructive process (such as getting implants after surgery to remove breast cancer) or to combat the aging process, everyone has the right to choose to look how they feel or want to feel.
2. Plastic surgeons, like other medical professionals, generally care about their clients.
Plastic surgeons are like any other medical care providers. They have extensively studied and practiced their work and are held to high professional standards. They also tend to care about the physical and emotional well-beings of clients.
3. Individuals considering plastic surgery can receive optional counseling prior to surgery.
While pre-operation counseling is usually optional, many plastic surgeons recommend clients give it consideration. Plastic surgery is a life-altering event and should be taken seriously by doctors, counselors, clients themselves, and clients’ at-home support systems (such as family and friends).
4. The end goal is happiness.
As with any surgical procedure, the end goal for both doctor and patient is satisfaction and a rejuvenation of (mental and physical) health. A study by researchers from Ruhr Universität and the University of Basel finds that many post-op plastic surgery patients feel more confident and are better able to enjoy life.
Women who opt for plastic surgery tend to have realistic expectations for outcomes and are not trying to look “fake.” In fact, most want to look as natural as possible. They simply want to boost their self-esteem by looking the way they feel they are meant to look. Plastic surgery can be a safe and healthy method for achieving these goals.