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Proud to bring you information via The Web since 1996

DONALD J. CAPUANO, M.D.
Plastic Surgeon



Reprinted with the permission
of

Marisa Felice

June 13, 1994


Plastic surgery specializes in both reconstructive and cosmetic or aesthetic surgery. Reconstructive surgery helps one to fix or bring to normalcy something that is irregular on the body, such as a ripped earlobe, or a scar. Cosmetic surgery helps to improve one's image, or as it is often called, aesthetic surgery, it gives one's body a sense of beauty. Plastic surgery has many uses today. Ultimately, plastic surgery benefits both young and old psychologically, physically and emotionally.

One's body image, or perception of how they look, often controls their life, both directly and indirectly. Plastic surgery can help people with this image struggle which often monopolizes one's perception of the world around them. " Despite difference in age, background and social or economic status, their common denominator is a deep-seated and persistent dissatisfaction with the way they look to themselves and others" (Stallings 3). One's perception of themselves is reflected in their personality and treatment of those they come in contact with. If a person is not happy with the way they look they often project it through negative body language or some other form of communication. "Schilder states that body image is the nucleus from which all elements of the personality arise" (Stark 4). Plastic surgery, whether cosmetic or reconstructive, can help to improve a person's psychological outlook on life.

Many adults suffered emotional trauma as children and many children suffer today because of the cruelty of their peers and the teasing they receive. "You can't imagine how it feels not to be afraid of being teased anymore...They'd call out, 'Is that a nose or a hose?'...It got so that when I looked in the mirror, I didn't see what I was actually seeing, only what they were saying about me" ( Stallings 18). In this case, cosmetic surgery greatly benefited this patient's emotional state. Being accepted by one's peers is sometimes the most important and consuming factor of childhood. "Aesthetic ( cosmetic) plastic surgery gains wider acceptance as a method for enhancing body image and self confidence, it is being considered at an increasingly younger age" ("Should Teens Have Plastic Surgery?" 6). In today's day and age when one's looks are front and center wherever you go, people (young or old) no longer have to put up with something they despise about their body. The opportunities that plastic surgery offers are vast and range from anything such as rhinoplasty, commonly referred to as a "nose-job", to a chemical peel to remove acne scars. Whatever the surgery, to have the option of being able to change what one has always perceived as their fault, can be a tremendous emotional boost.

The benefits of cosmetic surgery don't stop at childhood, however, but are felt throughout any age group. " All the spirit is back in me again" (Stallings 97). Older, or aging people have found an outlet in cosmetic surgery that psychologically makes them feel younger and more vibrant as they start to look better. " Improving their appearance may allow them to be accepted by a younger group or may vault them into a more meaningful life" ( Stark xiv). Especially in the case of the elderly, a healthy appearance is sometimes the determining factor in whether they feel or are healthy. " Psychologically, patients receive a powerful boost from such surgery" (Stark xv). Older patients of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery benefit psychologically, as well as physically from improving their body image. Whether it's removing fat through liposuction from an obese person, or merely giving a facelift to someone who is feeling in the dumps about their older appearance, all of these things help to improve the person spiritually as well as physically.

In today's society, inevitably, attractiveness aids in social acceptance. "Recent studies have shown that persons of pleasing appearance are accepted more readily by peers and by seniors and are more, successful" (Stark xv). This, maybe true anywhere: in the work-force, in the dating and social night life, as well as anywhere one goes for either service or in any type of communication related atmosphere. Good looks are often helpful in receiving more attention as well. To achieve this social satisfaction, many often look to plastic surgery to take away that extra lump or bump, or improve some other fault one might find with themselves.

"Thus an individual whose body image is aberrant or different will find it hard to form meaningful interpersonal associations and may become a social outcast, suffering psychological damage inherent in this particular type of rejection" (Stark 10-11). Plastic surgery, is somewhat of a miracle cure for patients in these unfortunate cases. Abnormalities can fortunately be reconstructed by such surgery. An example of this kind of surgery would be a clef palate or some other born-defect. If one has a poor self-image or is unhappy with the way they look, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery is their answer. " Psychologically, patients receive a powerful boost from such surgery" ( Stark xv). People no longer have to be unhappy with who they are because of a feature that has always bothered them. Plastic surgery leads to a healthier outlook on life and can be a milestone in one's life. According to Dr. Goin, MD, if one has a poor self-image cosmetic surgery can boost self-esteem and help one feel more outgoing and relaxed (Dranov 66).

Today, plastic surgery can achieve what years of exercise can't, and brings a different meaning to the phrase " growing old gracefully". Changing one's appearance in the slightest of ways can make a world of difference to that person. The rate of cosmetic procedures is increasing rapidly, and with it a new found answer to a happier and healthier life. "Aesthetic plastic surgery can no longer be considered vanity surgery, as it was in the past. Its benefits to the patient are tremendous" ( Stark xiv). Plastic surgery also helps individuals to be more out-going and proves to boost one' s self-esteem.

The benefits of both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery prove to outweigh the risks; plastic surgery benefits the patient not only physically, but emotionally and psychologically. Fortunately, today there is an answer to such unhappiness that one might feel when looking in the mirror. Plastic surgery is an option to feel good again. It is an option that can benefit one for an entire lifetime.


Bibliography

Anonymous. " Should Teens Have Plastic Surgery?" USA Today, January, 1992, 6-7.
Dranov, Paula. "Vanity Fair". Health, 19 May, 1987, 65-69.
Seay, Gina. "Waiting for answers". Houston Chronicle, 6 October 1991, PP lG+.
Reprinted in SIRS, Health, Vol. 4 article No. 59.
Stallings, ]ames O. A New You. New York: Mason/Charter. 1977.
Stark, Richard B. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, Inc.

The Psychological Benefits
of Cosmetic Plastic Surgery


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