The Psychological Effect of Plastic Surgery on Body Image

By Peter Minkoff

With plastic surgery becoming more readily available to everyone, we must ask ourselves the question – what are the psychological consequences of it? Does it contribute to the improvement of a person’s body image or does it further degrade it? After all, going under the knife for cosmetic purposes is hardly a new idea, so what have the results shown us in the past? Luckily, the answers are here, so let’s review them.


Changes and emotional stability

Just like anything, the effects of plastic surgery depend on the case and the level of changes that the patient undergoes. A simple case of rhinoplasty to correct a minor imperfection is going to be vastly different than a case where the person underwent a whole-body transformation and did a number of different surgeries. Before any procedures take place, a psychological evaluation is required. Does the patient know exactly what they want? Are their expectations realistic? Who are they doing this procedure for, themselves or is it a consequence of peer pressure? Patients with severe body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), for example, are usually first sent to a psychiatrist to deal with any potential mental instability before the doctor even considers performing a procedure. This is, of course, the key to patient satisfaction. Being realistic, being aware of what every single step of the process involves, and simply using the cosmetic surgery to make themselves happier rather than to please someone are key to being pleased with the results.

Deformities and injuries

Not all patients seek surgery to enhance a certain attribute, some of them simply seek a way to regain normal life. Car crash victims and people with deformities, for example, have a very high instance of patient satisfaction after a surgery because it allows them to deal with any permanent marks that were left on their bodies and increase their confidence and psychological well-being.


Psychological benefits

From tuberous breasts to a crooked nose, sometimes people have a flaw that plagued them ever since puberty. Whether they wish to correct it purely for aesthetic purposes or because of actual physical discomfort, science still points to the same conclusion – it’s beneficial. This is especially true for genital plastic surgery because the visual appearance of our genitals is something that very directly influences our sex lives and romantic relationships, so women who undergo corrective labiaplasty to reduce the size of vaginal lips have the benefit of both being more comfortable in their own body, and avoiding any chafing, discomfort, and pain that they were dealing with. The same goes for procedures such as penis enlargement and breast augmentation – people feel more confident. Whether you want to reduce the size of your ears, make your thighs slimmer, or do a simple facelift, the choice is yours.

Social benefits

While the primary reason for plastic surgery absolutely is personal satisfaction, it would be false to claim that it is the only reason. We change something on ourselves because we wish to be seen differently by our peers, and that’s also perfectly acceptable. Life is, simply put, a lot easier for attractive people in some regards, and the confidence gained from changing a physical feature can influence our social status. From better opportunities at work to more romantic options, as long as our own experience with the procedure was a happy one, people will notice. Good-looking people are also perceived to be more successful, and the kind of positive feedback and good first impressions that you leave are bound to make it even easier to navigate social circles. Your personality will not change, but the way people see you might.


Cosmetic surgery is, above all, a personal choice. It’s between you and your doctor, and if they give you the green light, then it’s absolutely on you whether you wish to have the procedure or not. Research shows that there are many benefits to be reaped, but if there is any insecurity or discomfort about the idea, then you should wait until you’re certain. If you’ve done your research, planned it out, discussed with the doctor and feel confident in your choice, then you’re ready for the next step.