Mental Health and Plastic Surgery must be seen in correlation. Plastic surgery is increasingly the choice of those who want to improve their appearance. However, it's important to remember that mental health must always come first.
As you know, plastic surgery is a set of invasive aesthetic procedures that aim to improve physical appearance, but also to treat or correct certain pathologies and conditions. Associated with the search for beauty and youth, plastic surgery goes far beyond that.
Self-esteem and mental health are closely related. That's why the link between plastic surgery and mental health begins with the motivation and decision to undergo a procedure, where various personal and emotional factors are involved.
I want to have plastic Surgery. Why?
There can be many reasons for those who want to have plastic surgery:
- complete dissatisfaction with some part of the body;
- health issues;
- simply the desire to perfect some detail of the appearance.
According to the World Health Organisation, the definition of health is "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease". This concept makes us realise how, for many people, having plastic surgery is a matter of health.
The fact that a person feels dissatisfied with their appearance can negatively affect their self-esteem, confidence, and emotional well-being. But it can also be a more obvious situation, where the patient has, for example, nasal deformities, breast hypertrophy or asymmetry, or abdominal diastasis. In any of these cases, in principle, it is entirely valid to consider plastic surgery to improve your image.
Self-esteem and self-image
Self-esteem is about the perception we have of ourselves and how we value ourselves. Body self-image, on the other hand, is how we perceive our own body and how we feel about it.The two concepts are invariably correlated and play a fundamental role in our emotional and mental health.
Dissatisfaction with our appearance can harm our self-esteem and self-image, as feeling uncomfortable with a physical feature can trigger insecurities. When this happens, plastic surgery can help improve appearance and, consequently, boost self-esteem. There are emotional disorders that are directly related to a negative self-image.
When we decide to have surgery, that decision should be made to feel better about ourselves, with our self-image, and not to please anyone.
Some people live with complexes for years and this ends up damaging their self-esteem, their personal life, their interpersonal relationships and, often, their intimate life.
People need to value themselves, take care of their physical and mental health and their image, and feel beautiful in their own eyes. And this is one of the main missions of plastic surgery.
However, physical transformation should not be seen as a solution to all our problems or a way to improve mental health. It doesn't solve cases of deep depression or chronic low self-esteem. Sometimes psychological counselling may be necessary to achieve a positive body image, in which case plastic surgery is just a complement.
IMAGE DISSATISFACTION: WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
When the need to change one's physical appearance through plastic surgery occurs suddenly or repeatedly, combined with other specific behaviours such as constant dissatisfaction with one's image, it can be a warning sign that something may not be right with the patient's mental health.
Men or women who are extremely anxious or have mild depression should consider whether they are psychologically able to face this procedure at the time.
This assessment should be done in combination with the surgeon and psychologist, and if the patient decides to go ahead with surgery, he/she should continue to be monitored closely.
For example, the most serious cases of depression or personality disorder should not be recommended for plastic surgery.
It's important to understand the motivations behind the decision to have plastic surgery. There are several questions to consider, regardless of the procedure:
- Should I undergo plastic surgery?
- Which procedure is best for the result I want?
- What will the recovery be like?
- Will the results live up to my expectations?
The questions are many and the answers necessarily differ from person to person.
Plastic surgery is not a magic solution that solves all the problems associated with self-image or constant dissatisfaction with physical appearance.
The patient must have realistic expectations and understand the limits of the procedure, deciding whether or not to go ahead completely consciously and after a careful and well-considered assessment.
To have plastic surgery, the patient must prepare themselves psychologically to deal with the aesthetic changes. Although it is increasingly a safe and simple procedure with a quick recovery, there is still a big difference between a visit to the beautician and a visit to the plastic surgeon.
For example, people who are extremely perfectionists and have very high expectations should be cautious about having plastic surgery, because they will probably never be satisfied with the result.
It's very important to realise that results vary from person to person. You must be aware of your "self" and not resort to plastic surgery to look like someone else. Plastic surgery aims to bring out the best in each of us.
PSYCHOLOGICAL COUNSELLING OR SUPPORT
Just as important as the physical examinations that must be carried out before resorting to plastic surgery, is the initial and subsequent psychological support, when necessary.
For those who decide to undergo plastic surgery, family support and the support of those closest to them are also important. The whole process becomes easier when it is shared and understood by family and friends.
Therefore, family and friends should understand, or try to understand, the patient's motivations, although the final decision must always be made by the patient.
Mental Health at LMR
At LMR, the mental health of our patients is one of our primary concerns. As such, before any surgery, we carry out a detailed psychological assessment to ensure that the patient has the necessary conditions to undergo the procedure she wants and that she is aware of the impact it could have on her life.
We carefully assess our patients to understand their motivations and expectations and identify signs of possible emotional and psychological problems, referring them to therapy when necessary.
At LMR, we do our utmost to clarify any questions and uncertainties you may have, and we give you all the support you need to help you make the right decision for you.
In case this article presents before and after photos please consider them merely demonstrative and may not serve as a reference for your particular case. These images are only to show possible results for one or several surgical procedures. The images we use are of patients who have consented to their use. Any images do not represent a guarantee of results.
Sobre a Médica Especialista
Dr. Luísa Magalhães Ramos / Plastic Surgery
PORTUGUESE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, Nr. 42810
Graduated by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, she specialized in plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery, at Hospital de São José, in Lisbon.
Throughout her training, she subspecialized in aesthetic plastic surgery, having worked in world-renowned clinics.
Currently, she is mainly dedicated to face and breast aesthetic plastic surgery and to intimate female surgery.
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