What Is the Connection between Plastic Surgery and Self-Esteem?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2019
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There are a number of different possible connections between plastic surgery and self-esteem. Some are positive, while others can be more detrimental, depending on the individual's personality and goals for his or her body. One of the most common connections between plastic surgery and self-esteem is that individuals often report feeling better about themselves after undergoing surgery, and experience a boost in the levels of self-esteem they experience. On the other side of that coin, however, it is possible that people with low self-esteem are more likely to seek out cosmetic surgery was a way to correct their perceived flaws, which may not even need to be corrected; in some cases this can turn into a sort of addiction resulting in multiple procedures.

Plastic surgery allows individuals to alter their appearances; common procedures include face lifts, liposuction, or breast augmentation, to name a few. Rhinoplasty, to straighten or reduce the size of an individual's nose, is another common surgical procedure. Surgeries performed simply for a cosmetic reason are often referred to as cosmetic surgery rather than plastic surgery, as plastic surgery can encompass other types such as reconstructive surgery after an injury or burn, for example. This type of surgery is often correlated with a boost in self-esteem.


In general, plastic surgery and self-esteem are positively correlated, which is to say that people who have undergone elective cosmetic procedures often report higher levels of self-esteem following the procedure. This can be a slippery slope, however, because some people will then begin perceiving additional problems or areas to be fixed, and will become obsessed with continuing to have plastic surgeries. People with truly low self-esteem may find that no amount of plastic surgery makes them feel better about themselves, and may find that talk therapy with a psychologist can be more helpful.

This is because, as mentioned above, some people with very low self-esteem are more likely to have plastic surgery in the first place. Teenagers especially are now having plastic surgery more and more frequently, hoping that it will make them better fit in with their peers. Some plastic surgeons will refuse to do procedures on teenagers, because their bodies have not fully developed and are still growing and changing, but also because they recognize that self-esteem is not usually going to come from surgery alone. In general, people who want to have plastic surgery to make a specific change to a part of their body that they are self-conscious about will find that it boosts their self-esteem; however, those looking to change who they are will likely never be satisfied.


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Post 3

I have read that people with very low self esteem don't feel better about themselves even when positive changes take place in their life. For example, someone with poor self esteem may claim that he is a failure because he doesn't have a job. But after getting a job, he might not feel any better about himself and may find more reasons for why he's a failure.

Similarly, I agree with the article that those with low self esteem will not feel more beautiful or attractive after plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery. They may feel better for a while, but then they will find other faults to sulk about.

Post 2

@SarahGen-- I'm not an expert on this topic. I'm sure that a psychologist who has done research on these types of issues would give you a better answer.

Having said that, I think that plastic surgery could be a sign of low self esteem. I think it depends on the circumstances, such as the reason for the surgery and the number of surgeries. There are people who have had fifteen different surgeries on their nose for example. I think it's safe to say that such an individual is suffering from low self esteem. The reason is because our esteem is about how we view ourselves. People who love and accept themselves as they are less likely to have plastic

surgery done to improve their looks.

Of course, there are also cases when plastic surgery is done for medical reasons. For example burn victims and those who have gone through serious injuries may need plastic surgery procedures. Obviously, we can't say anything about self esteem in these cases. I also don't think that those who have one or two plastic surgeries done and then stop have low self esteem. I think that such people have a realistic goal about their appearance and the fact that they know where to stop shows that they accept themselves and love themselves.

So it really depends on the specific situation.

Post 1

Can we really say that people who get plastic surgery have low self esteem? I've had plastic surgery done and I don't think I have low self esteem at all. Just the opposite, I have high self esteem. I don't think we should make generalizations.

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