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1 The Psychology of Cosmetic Surgery

While most medical specialties address physical health, cosmetic surgery is unique in the way it uses physical improvement to benefit psychological health. It is the ultimate elective surgery. The patient's motivation — to look and feel better — is directly connected to his or her sense of self-worth. That's why I've chosen to put this chapter at the beginning of the book. Physicians and patients both need to consider motivation, expectations and other psychological influences before making a cosmetic surgery commitment.

The true bottom line when making your decision about cosmetic surgery is simple — how much does the "flawed" area of your body bother you? If heavy thighs, small breasts or a receding hairline make you unhappy, and you are healthy, then what else do you need to know? You're a freethinking adult with decision-making power. You care about yourself. You want to improve the way you look and the way you feel. It's that simple. Or is it?

You'd be surprised at what happens when you scratch the surface of a simple thought like, "I'd like to look more attractive." Underneath that thought, all kinds of subconscious messages — cultural, sexual, social and physical — are screaming for attention. How do you sort them out so that each can be clearly heard?

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