Cosmetic Surgery and Body Image. A Public Health epidemic?

The reasons for patients wishing to undergo cosmetic surgery are complex. Although cosmetic surgery can improve quality of life and can help improve ones body image, patients should only consider cosmetic surgery after carefully considering the pros and cons and risks. It is also imperative that potential patients have realistic expectations and aspirations.

Patients must be fully informed and others should not influence decisions. Increasingly decisions to proceed are being made based on body image “norms” that have been created by fiends on social media and through aspirational peers within the media that may influence their decisions.

A new survey for the 2017 Dove Global Girls Beauty and Confidence Report, interviewed 5,165 girls aged 10 to 17 in 14 countries and showed that over 50% of girls had low body esteem. Having a negative body image was also linked to negative health effects.

The Dove “Real Truth About Beauty Revisited” also highlighted that only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful.

The negative self esteem of not feeling “normal” or similar to friends or peers can affect ones own body image and lead patients to explore cosmetic surgery.

The evidence would suggest that the prevalence of negative body image is increasing and there are increasingly more women looking to alter their body in an attempt to conform to a social “norm”.

Sadly advertisements and social media that are altering our perception of reality are affecting the social norm.

Although we have recently seen a move in Israel and France to reduce the use of overly thin models and a move to limit the prevalence of “photo shopped” or altered images within the media we have a long way to go to stop the epidemic that is upon us.

Within my own cosmetic surgery practice I now only offer cosmetic surgery to less than 30% of patients I consult with. I have seen a dramatic increase in very beautiful women with low self esteem who are incredibly vulnerable. More and more I am telling patients “the perception of yourself is not how others would perceive you”.

Sadly, it is very difficult to build self esteem when it has been negatively affected throughout childhood and cosmetic surgery is rarely the cure.

Prevention of a negative body esteem is undoubtedly a public health issue that threatens our society unless addressed urgently.

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