Extreme cosmetic surgery is often a sign of underlying mental illness. When the cosmetic surgery is so extreme that body proportions are unnatural or where a person’s health might be at risk, cosmetic surgery is really just a mainfestation of a distorted self image (excluding gender transformation). Distorted self image often indicates distorted and dysfunctional thinking. This should be assessed and dealt with before cosmetic surgery is allowed to proceed.
Examples of obsessive/extreme cosmetic surgery:
Cosmetic procedures are on the rise. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps) said there were 51,140 surgical procedures in 2015 – up from 45,406 the year before. Botox and fillers are on the rise and breast augmentation appears to be reducing.
So, why do so many people want cosmetic surgery?
According to Dr. Cory Torgerson, people choose plastic surgery to:
- Boost their self esteem
- To please their partner
- To look younger
- To copy celebrities
Psychological issues related to cosmetic surgery
Problems arise when people have unrealistic expectations of cosmetic surgery. Surgery cannot fix the dysfunctional inner landscape that a person may have. Surgery can change the exterior but it does nothing for the inner world of a person with low self esteem or for someone who fundamentally sees themself as defective.
Of course, for someone who tends to like themself but just wishes to improve something specific, they tend to fare better. For someone with dysfunctional thinking or body dysmorphia, cosmetic surgery will be an addiction. They will never be satisfied and these are the cases who require intense therapy before going ahead with cosmetic surgery.
A negative cycle can be created where a person becomes more obsessed about the way they look. The more they receive positive validation from others, the more surgery they want. It’s a very dangerous cycle to get into. I have worked with the most beautiful women, yet despite their near perfection, they still didn’t feel good enough. Cosmetic surgery goes some way to helping them feel more confident but that nagging self doubt never leaves them. Some of the most beautiful women I have worked with are the most insecure.
Cosmetic surgery serves a purpose and in a society where looks count for so much, it is a procedure that isn’t going to go away. The key is to accept your good and bad qualities. There is nothing wrong with wanting to imporve yourself but you need to fundamentally like yourself to begin with.