Culture affects how we perceive beauty. For centuries, adventurers have gone on quests to find the key formula for what they saw as attractive in their eyes. In the 21st century, statistics suggest that women have been spending on average $144 a year on cosmetics.
Plastic surgery is one of the options for people who want to enhance their appearance. In some cases, people might even think that cosmetic dental procedures, like investing in braces, are a type of plastic surgery. However, people who choose to consult a surgeon should be aware of their expectations and the potential risks of the procedures. We can have a better understanding if we appreciate the impact the modern culture has on our perceptions of beauty.
In this article, we’ll look at how standards and perception of beauty affect the practice of plastic surgery and how it can influence results.
Changing Standards of Beauty
One curious aspect of the beauty culture is how, over generations, it has been changing our expectations for what is attractive. Buzzfeed recently documented how our standards of attractiveness have varied widely for the last 3,000 years. But even in the last half-century, what we consider beautiful has shifted dramatically.
Currently, the ideal fashion model is skinny with straight teeth from clear braces or Invisalign. Yet in the ’50s, the perceived “perfect figure” was slightly plump with an hourglass shape. Later on, in the ’60s and ’70s, models were more slender with a boyish physique. Every decade has seen a significant shift in what we consider beautiful. The shifting standards should be a clear sign that, in beauty, there is no such thing as perfection.
Although there is no clear definition of what is attractive, these ideas of beauty have an impact on young people and their body image. After all the cosmetics industry is booming with more cosmetic cream manufacturing equipment being sold on the daily. But it doesn’t influence only females: even men get affected by beauty standards of the male physique.
Women seek all manner of remedies for rapid weight loss, while men may look for products to increase their muscle mass. How we perceive our physical beauty can have a big impact on the quality of our lives. If you seek to make cosmetic changes to your face or body, keep in mind that there are potential risks and uncertainties.
When Plastic Surgery can be Unhealthy
If the procedure is not up to standards or carried out by a professional, there is a risk of physical complications. Complications can range from aches to chronic pain to disfigurement. Some patients may even suffer death or lose their savings in the hands of unscrupulous surgeons. On top of that, health insurance rarely covers plastic surgery done mainly for cosmetic reasons.
Even more worrying to both patients and plastic surgeons is the negative psychological impact it can have after undergoing the procedure. Unsatisfactory results with the procedure, as well as low self-esteem, can cause a lot of distress.
Mental distress can have an impact on a patient’s personal life. For example, it may delay your return to work time-line. It can also increase the time it takes for your body to heal. Even seemingly simple procedures, like hair loss treatment, can take many months to heal. After all, braces can take more than two years to straighten teeth, even if you use dental gel and take care of your teeth.
The study found that patients could be more anxious and potentially hostile to those around them during and after surgery.
Existing psychological disorders can become worse after undergoing plastic surgery. Cosmetic surgeons can avoid possible complications by screening patients for the following conditions:
Pop Culture and Body Image
We can mitigate some of the psychological challenges by examining the role of pop culture and its impact on our self-image. Many young people today suffer from mental disorders related to misconceptions about beauty. Some of those disorders may include Anorexia, bulimia, lack of self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
In one study, 40% of girls between the ages of nine and 10 had already tried to lose weight by that stage. Also, five to ten million adolescent girls have borderline eating conditions. Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa cause deaths in both males and females.
A few decades ago, misconceptions around physical appearance were attributed to influences from television and the other forms of conventional media. But in recent years, a new and more accessible medium has taken the place of traditional tools. Digital platforms like Twitter and Facebook play an important part in shaping how young people perceive beauty.
Social media has had a significant effect on social comparisons. Surveys show that 98% of the comparisons are usually in contrast to people perceived to be of a higher social rank. As a result, digital platforms set unrealistic expectations on wealth, career, physique, and physical appearance.
There is also a relationship between the teenager’s sense of self-esteem and social media platforms. Many adolescents are growing up with unrealistic expectations of their outward physical appearance. Parents and teachers are, in the meantime, oblivious of how peer pressure has been magnified exponentially by digital tools.
The pressure young people face today is arguably greater than when the social influences were only from movies and magazines. Unfortunately, misconceptions find teenagers at a stage in life when they are growing into adults. They are trying to figure out who they are and what they want to become. The distress they experience can have a lasting impact on their lives.
Additionally, there is a wide range of products online that try to take advantage of the vulnerable. Some helpful products, like a dehumidifier, can be reshaped through the guise of improving skin, especially in the winter. Some of what is offered by unscrupulous people on the internet are not only ineffective but can also be dangerous to your health. Teenagers in a fragile emotional state can suffer immensely, even when a seemingly simple process like applying permanent makeup goes wrong.
When plastic procedures can be beneficial to health
Despite the negative perception of the practice, plastic surgery can have a positive impact on ordinary people’s lives. The discipline of cosmetic surgery can encompass a wide range of procedures. They may include correcting cleft lip in children or addressing foot pain for people who have been in an accident.
Reconstructive surgeries can be useful in correcting deformities in both adults and children. Without the procedures, many people around the world would have to endure living with burns and defects from traumatic events and calamities.
Even procedures that appear cosmetic can have a positive impact on the patient’s life. For example, breast augmentation is a common process carried out by cosmetic surgeons in America today. Breast augmentation is often perceived as driven by vanity, done only to enhance one’s physical appearance. However, research shows that breast augmentation can enhance the physical and mental well-being of many women. Reducing the size of abnormally large breasts can boost self-esteem and reduce anxiety. It can also eliminate potential problems such as back problems, headaches, difficulty with movement, headaches, and cancer risks.
Even the procedures that patients may choose mainly for cosmetic reasons can have a positive impact on your well-being. For example, using Invisalign braces to correct teeth deformities, can boost your self-esteem and even make you more sociable. Better yet, straighter teeth are easier to keep clean and can help you stay healthier.
Similarly, undergoing mammoplasty, rhinoplasty, and other cosmetic surgery procedures can have a life-changing effect on one’s life. Many new mothers who have sagging skin after birth might opt for a tummy tuck if it helps their self-image. Most of them do not even involve an extensive process than requires the patient to go under the knife. Modern practitioners can make a tiny incision, which means the wound heals quickly.
Also, the quality and safety of cosmetic surgery have evolved with time due to advancements in technology. Laser devices are some of the precision tools that are making procedures less invasive and more affordable than it was decades ago. High accuracy reduces error and minimizes the size of the incisions required for the process.
With most medical procedures today, managing pain can be problematic. Prescription drugs meant to prevent infections and manage pain can have serious adverse effects. They sometimes cause dependency or magnify some of the symptoms of the condition.
The challenge of managing pain has led scientists to research on non-pharmacological means of reducing aches and serious symptoms. These programs will need large data center services to power electronics and store information. Some findings suggest that holistic approaches such as mindfulness meditation and acupuncture are promising in dealing with mild pain. They can supplement and other remedies and may have the potential of replacing existing medication in the future.
Managing Potential Risks of Cosmetic Procedures
Just like with any other process, cosmetic procedures have risks. Some people are happier after they have gone through recovery. But some feel like they should never have tried. Fortunately, professionals in the medical field have the requisite training to anticipate and address such risks.
As a patient, you must do your homework. Sometimes the surgeon you choose can make all the difference. You also need to have adequate information on what to expect for that specific appointment with the surgeon. That is because certain aspects of the process are subjective. For example, clients differ in what they feel about visible contour lines, asymmetry of facial features, and minor scarring.
Some of the physical complications are common with most medical procedures, and they may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Blood clots
- Nerve damage and loss of sensation
However, psychological effects can have a greater impact on your overall well being. For that reason, your surgeon may evaluate the state of your mental health to determine if you are fit for the procedure.
One common condition that cosmetic surgeons may look out for is Body Dysmorphic disorder. Its key characteristic is the preoccupation with what one perceives as unbearable physical defects. People with the disorder are often unhappy with the results of cosmetic procedures. They may go through the process multiple times without feeling content.
The more times a patient goes for the same procedure, the higher the risk of both psychological and physical complications. People with Body Dysmorphic Disorder make up about 2% of the population. It affects individuals from all walks of life.
But even those who do not have a serious condition like BDD may still not be mentally fit for cosmetic surgery. Certain unexpected events such as divorce and the loss of a loved one can trigger an emotional turmoil that may affect the patient’s decisions.
During your appointment, a professional surgeon will try and establish your reasons for seeking cosmetic changes. Are they driven by insecurity or lack of self-esteem? How do you expect cosmetic changes to affect your personal life and those around you? How would you feel if you find the results to be unsatisfactory? Do you have a clear understanding of the potential risks of the procedure?
The surgeon will also try to manage your expectations, which is important for procedures that are not medically necessary. Some patients may have misconceptions about what they expect the results to look like, based on misleading online photos and images. Medical professionals can provide images of the closest result you can realistically expect.
Some surgeons may determine that the patient needs men and women counseling sessions. Patients with depression, anxiety, or lack of self-esteem may be referred to a mental health professional. You shouldn’t be quick to dismiss counseling, as it may save you from a lot of pain and emotional distress in the future.
Weighing the Risks vs the Returns
Plastic surgery can have psychological and physical health risks. But just like many other medical processes, the challenges can be managed. By prior planning and careful organization, you can, more or less, eliminate most of the issues. After all, some procedures are beneficial to our health, if not entirely life-changing.
A woman with breast cancer can boost her self-esteem and get a new lease of life after a mastectomy. By incorporating men and women counseling, patients with visible deformities can regain their confidence. When the practice commits to high standards, the results are often positive, and at times, transformational.
If you choose to undergo the cosmetic procedure, you should first evaluate the potential risk against the results you expect. Keep in mind that results can seem subjective to different clients. You should talk to your surgeon to find out if there is a chance your expectations are unrealistic.
It is also advisable to go for cosmetic surgery when your health is at its best. Even with the small incisions of non-invasive procedures, your body will need time to heal. Follow the instructions for preparation and recovery from your surgeon to avoid complications. Don’t forget that there is no such thing as perfect beauty. Raising a cup to people who invest in cosmetic surgery for healthy reasons is the best thing to do. Last but not least, adapt a positive mental state, and it will help you through the process of your physical and psychological healing.