In 2011, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 13.8 million cosmetic plastic surgeries were performed in the United States. The following year, 2012, saw that number increase to 14.6 million. Everyone knows that there are physical benefits to cosmetic or aesthetic surgery, whether it is the removal of a birthmark or other physical imperfection, or the body contouring of liposuction or even breast augmentation. You can see those benefits evident every time you look in the mirror, and you can see it in the faces of those who have known you for years. What is harder to measure, but just as important, are the psychological benefits that a woman can gain through these procedures. A number of clinical studies have been conducted in this area, from sources ranging from aesthetic surgery associations to psychological institutions, and the results, to say the least, are staggering.
Understanding Body Image
In psychology, the term “Body Image” is used a lot to describe a person’s cognitive perception of their own body. That cognitive perception is often much more incriminating than the reality, but the saying “we are our own harshest critics” holds as much truth as any cliche’ used today. How we look to ourselves is just as important – perhaps even more so – than how we look to others. If we are unhappy with our appearance, it shows both in our personality and the way we interact with others. We want to look like our ideal self, whether that means the removal of that facial imperfection, or the sculpting of our bodies.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
To illustrate this point, one particular study conducted in 2005 centered around 84 women between the ages of 20-58 who were scheduled to have body-sculpting surgery for cosmetic purposes only. They were surveyed prior to their surgeries in regards to their self esteem and sexuality. Three months after the procedure, they were provided with the same survey questions. The women who underwent the procedure saw their self esteem increase an average of 20.2 percent, while their sexual function scores increased on average by 15.4 percent. The mind holds a lot of power, and that power is usually the determining factor in how satisfied we are with ourselves. If we’re happy with the way we look, we tend to be a lot happier with who we are.