Many people are quick to judge others who undergo cosmetic surgery as being an active choice purely for vanity. Yet as a Plastic Surgeon we quickly learn not to judge our patients and learn to understand their motivations and reasons for wanting to have parts of their body addressed. There may be many reasons, but the one common factor with virtually all patients relates to self-esteem and self-confidence. The feelings they have about a particular part of their body can have profound effects on mood and psychological well being – on a daily basis. Therefore a plastic surgeon can almost be thought of as a psychologist or psychotherapist who uses their surgical skills as their treatment.
Take for example a recent patient who underwent a breast augmentation, normally a procedure trivialised by the media. Jill had never really developed breasts and despite having had two children at a young age her breasts did not change significantly, to the extent that she has never needed to wear a bra. The impact of her feelings about herself and her breasts affected the intimate relations with her partner but equally resulted in her putting limitations on what she was prepared to do with her children. Therefore her children had never learnt to swim as she had never felt comfortable going into the water with them as this would expose her hidden secret – the small size of her breasts.
Finally, after many years of agonising over this she plucked up the courage to enquire about a breast augmentation and has subsequently undergone the procedure. This has truly been transformative in her life. Her overwhelming positivity about the outcome of the procedure has meant that relations with her partner have taken a new turn. She is actively taking her children swimming now and her children are seeing a new side of their mother that they had never before known. The day-to-day impact on Jill’s life of her breast augmentation has made an indescribably difference.
Jill’s story is just one example of what we see day in, day out as Plastic Surgeons. Whether it is someone who will never have their photograph taken or allow anyone to see their side profile because of their concerns about their nose to someone who hasn’t let their partner see their tummy for over ten years due to their negative feelings about it.
Plastic surgery fundamentally is a treatment of the soul and psychology by means of surgery.