Plastic Surgery as an Empowerment Tool
While commonly misinterpreted as an admittance of a flaw or giving into insecurities stemming from societal pressure, plastic surgery is an empowerment tool that promotes body positivity. Cosmetic surgery is a way one can come closer to their best version of themselves, both aesthetically and in general. Plastic surgery is a deeply personal decision that can only be fully understood by those in the field or undergoing the surgeries, but harmful, stigmatic misconceptions about plastic surgery may deter some from undergoing these live changing procedures.
The common notion of “learning to love ourselves in our own skin” can sometimes become a toxic prohibitor from taking reasonable action to make a change that would make the individual happier! Opting to make a choice that you know will make you feel better, is taking care of yourself, which you do because you love yourself. If cosmetic surgery is done out of a desire to better oneself, it can be transformative and very positive. A 2013 study demonstrated positive improvements in patients’ anxiety, social phobia, depression, body dysmorphia, goal attainment, quality of life, life satisfaction, attractiveness, mental and physical health, well-being, self-efficacy, and self-esteem.
Reasons for Plastic Surgery
There are many reasons one decides to undergo an elective surgical procedure for aesthetic reasons. Some may be confident individuals who want to further their comfortability and pride in their skin. For example, someone who has great lips and is proud of them, might make the choice to make them a bit larger to enhance something they already consider an asset to their appearance. For these people, plastic surgery acts as an enhancement vehicle to help them display their features, much like make-up can be used to enhance certain facial features.
For others, plastic surgery is a way for people to change parts of their bodies that causes them to feel insecure. Some women may feel self-conscious having what they consider too large of breasts, so they undergo a breast reduction surgery to achieve their ideal breast size.
These days, many who are making the choice to have elective surgery for an aesthetic reason are confident individuals who want to further comfortability and pride in their skin. These body positive individuals are acknowledging the areas they want to change or enhance and taking action to do so. If someone has a scar from youth that they have always wished was gone, choosing not to live with it doesn’t equate to failing to learn to accept it. Those struggling with weight loss can use surgical procedures to help them achieve their desired weight or body shape. Having the choice to change something about your body that you don’t like is empowering.
A Plastic Surgeon’s Perspective
Renowned Australian plastic surgeon, Dr. Anh Nguyen, routinely sees the positive effects of plastic surgery. Her clients come in feeling broken because they don’t like how their body is. They feel self-conscious and insecure because their boobs are too small or too large, because they’ve tried various diets and haven’t yet reached their body goals, or because they don’t like their nose. They see their bodies in such a negative light that they hold back their potential. Post-operation, she sees their transformations: women who have never loved their bodies finally love their bodies. Their confidence and overall happiness skyrocket as their physical body finally matches their ideal and desired bodies.
Dr. Nguyen doesn’t believe in the notion that the body you have at birth is your forever body. While she recognizes the stigma surrounding plastic surgery, she questions why plastic surgery to help one love themselves is judged while plastic surgery to remove horrible scars or a cleft lip is seen as permissible. Plastic surgery is just another vehicle for self-care. While plastic surgery can present a hefty financial cost, Dr. Nguyen believes that the benefits of undergoing plastic surgery are truly priceless.
Plastic surgery rates have been increasing over the last several years, yet the stigma surrounding these procedures remains. Cosmetic surgery can really open up life for someone who previously felt held back by some part of their appearance, and making the choice to change something you don’t like about yourself is a brave, empowering decision. As more undergo these life changing procedures, we need to continue raising awareness of the positive benefits of cosmetic surgeries and chip away at the restrictive stigma and misconceptions that prevent more people from undergoing a procedure that can help increase their confidence and drastically improve their mental health.