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What Motivates People To Have Plastic Surgery?

There are many reasons why people choose to have plastic surgery, and when you visit a plastic surgeon, they will ask what your reason for wanting surgery is. They do this for two reasons.

The first, is to determine whether what you want to have done is in fact possible for the surgeon to do. Some people, for example, may want to have a nose or a pair of breasts that look like their favorite celebrity’s nose or breasts. But this isn’t always possible due to the unique body shapes that different people have.

The second reason, which not many people are aware of, is to determine whether you are suitable for surgery and whether you would actually benefit from having a particular procedure done.

patient with surgeon

A surgeon will ask why you want plastic surgery so that they can determine if what you want is possible, and then decide if you are a suitable candidate for surgery.

Some people, for example, would benefit more from seeing a psychiatrist or a psychologist than they would a plastic surgeon, and a good surgeon would tell them this if it was the case.

Reasons For Wanting Plastic Surgery

The reason you have for wanting plastic surgery will determine whether a surgeon will agree to operate on you or not. So right now, think about why you want to have surgery. What are your motives for wanting plastic surgery?

Once you have thought about your reason, find the section that is most relevant to you from those listed below. They are the most common reasons that people give for wanting to go under the knife, and what a surgeon can realistically do for that patient:

1) Bad Genes

One thing that you can’t choose in life are your genes. They are handed down to you at birth and will largely dictate how you look throughout the rest of your life.

Genetics are therefore a big motivating factor that causes people to want to have cosmetic surgery. So depending on the type of genes that you have, you may not be motivated to have surgery at all or could find yourself strongly motivated towards it.


Your looks are determined by your genes, so some people are more strongly motivated to have plastic surgery than others.

There is nothing wrong, of course, with wanting to improve the way that you look. After all, very few people have genes that give them a perfect look which they are 100% happy with.

So if you have an oddly shaped nose that you feel self-conscious about, for example, then having surgery to give it a more natural shape can be very beneficial to your overall level of self-confidence.

Where things can start to become a problem, however, is when you want to change everything about yourself. Rather than having just one or two things that you don’t like about your body, you find yourself not liking anything and wanting to change your entire look.

In such cases, having plastic surgery is probably not a good idea, as you are most likely suffering from a psychological disorder that you should seek help for.

Dr. Pratt/Larry King: Addicted Plastic Surgery

Even though you may think that surgery is going to help you, in all likelihood, it will probably not, and you will continue feeling the same way about yourself no matter how much surgery you undergo.

Good cosmetic surgeons are actually very reluctant to operate on such patients, because people who don’t like anything about themselves can very easily become addicted to plastic surgery and end up looking abnormal.

So as a general rule, just remember that changing a few things is probably ok, but changing everything is definitely not.

2) Reversing the Signs of Aging

Whilst there are many anti-aging approaches that a person can take to reduce and delay the signs of aging, eventually, time catches up with us all. With advancing age our skin becomes loose, and sooner or later, will develop fine lines and wrinkles.

reverse aging

Advances in medical and cosmetic techniques now allow you to hold on to your looks for longer than was ever possible before.

Fortunately, cosmetic surgery can be very effective in reversing the signs of aging. People with facial sagging, for example, can often look 10 years younger with a good face lift. And if you have wrinkles, then dermal fillers, such as collagen or hyaluronic acid injections, can be used to temporarily restore a more youthful look to the face.

So it’s not surprising that one of the primary motivations that people have for wanting plastic surgery is to reverse the signs of aging, as surgery can provide a very effective means for doing so.

But if you hope that by having plastic surgery you will be able to look like a teenager again, then you are going to be disappointed, because this is something that not even surgery can do.

Plastic surgery is only designed to enhance the way you look, and perhaps, shave a few years off your visible age. If you can accept this, then you are likely to be pleased with the results that a surgeon produces.

But if you can’t accept your age, then no amount of surgery is going to make you feel better.

face lift

A good face lift can make you look 10 years younger, but most procedures won’t produce such drastic results.

In general, the cost of plastic surgery will be lower the younger you get it done. This is because the surgeon will have less work to do.

For example, a woman who gets a face lift in her mid 30s will probably only need a mini-face lift, and so the cost for her would be far cheaper than a women in her 60s who requires a full face lift.

So if you are having plastic surgery with the intention of keeping yourself looking young, go for smaller but more frequent treatments as you age rather than having a major procedure done once when you get older.

This will not only help to save you money, but it will also enable you to get far better results throughout the course of your life.

3) Sun Damaged Skin

There never used to be such awareness about how harmful the sun can be to the skin. As a result, many people basked in the sun unprotected for long periods so that they could obtain the perfect tan.

sun damaged skin

The image shows how the right side of this truck driver’s face has been visibly aged by the sun.

In most cases, it was women who did the tanning. Later, as sun beds became popular, people from both sexes saw tanning beds as a great way to get a tan cheaply and quickly.

Unfortunately, as we now know today, UV rays are very damaging to the skin and are a major cause of premature aging.

Early signs of sun damage appear as wrinkles, freckles and pigmented skin, with some people even developing skin cancer.

Light discoloration of the skin can be treated with chemical peels, such as Alpha hydroxy acid skin peels, whilst skin cancer is usually surgically removed.

Advanced signs of sun damage include age spots, sagging skin and skin which has a leathery looking appearance. Depending on the extent of sun damage, TCA peels or laser skin resurfacing may be sufficient to improve the skin’s appearance.

But if sagging is a major concern, then a surgical face lift may be your only option.

Reverse sun damage

Sun damaged skin is a good reason to see your surgeon. But if your skin is currently in good condition, then don’t think that you can spend lots of time in the sun and then see a surgeon when you are older to reverse the damage.

Although cosmetic surgeons certainly can improve the appearance of sun damaged skin, what they can do is still quite limited. So even though your skin may end up looking better, it won’t look as good as skin which has not been damaged by the sun.

4) Acne Scars

Acne scars can significantly affect a person’s level of confidence, so it’s no wonder that people in their 20s and 30s come to dermatologists and plastic surgeons in the hope of getting rid of their scars.

acne scars

In most cases, acne scars can be significantly reduced. But it may not be possible to eliminate them entirely.

Unfortunately, it’s not yet possible to remove all and every type of scar. However, it is possible to significantly reduce the appearance of acne scars so that they are no longer a major concern.

The appearance of light or moderately deep acne scars (e.g., crater scars) can usually be permanently reduced by feathering the edges of the scar with laser skin resurfacing, microdermabrasion or with skin needling treatments.

Dermal fillers may also be used to raise the scar, although this only provides a short-term temporary solution.

Very deep acne scars (e.g., ice pick scars) can be concealed on a temporary basis via the use of sub-dermal fillers. In some cases, deep scars can also be excised from the skin, although this process will leave a smaller scar in replacement.

DermTV – Removing Acne Scars [ #61]

A word of warning though. Very deep scars can be difficult to remove completely, and in most cases, you will just be able to make them less noticeable rather than making them vanish away completely.

So it’s important to have realistic expectations when it comes to acne scar removal treatments, as otherwise, you are bound to be disappointed and won’t receive as great of a psychological benefit from the treatment as you should.

5) Fixing a Physical Problem

Sometimes, plastic surgery is required to restore the proper functioning of an area of the body. For example, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) can help to improve a person’s peripheral vision which can be of benefit when driving.

Nasal surgery (septoplasty) can help a person to breathe better and reduce or eliminate snoring.


Sometimes plastic surgery can be carried out to improve a person’s quality of life, such as in the picture above which shows the results of a septoplasty surgery to correct a deviated septum that impaired the patient’s ability to breath.

Whilst body contouring surgery can be of benefit to those who have lost a large amount of weight, and now find themselves with excess sagging skin that interferes with normal movement.

Plastic surgery can also be of great benefit to people who were born with a deformity, or who have suffered a deformity as a result of injury or illness.

In such cases, plastic surgery should be encouraged if the person wants to have it, as not only can it help them to live a more normal life and fit into society better, but it can also significantly improve how they feel about themselves.

face translplant

Reconstructive surgery carried out on a patient to produce a more normal looking appearance and improved breathing ability.

Parents may therefore want to pay for plastic surgery for their child if that child was born with an abnormality, as this can help the child to progress through school without feeling so self-conscious about themselves.

If you suffer a deformity as a result of injury or disease, you may find that your health insurance will contribute towards the cost of your surgery, especially if that surgery is of a reconstructive nature.

6) Premature Aging From Smoking

If you are a heavy smoker and have been smoking for a long time, then you are likely to have suffered mainly from aging of the skin. As a result, your face may be wrinkled, sagging, and look dull and old beyond its years.


Smoking accelerates aging of the skin. This causes many smokers to look for cosmetic treatments to reverse their premature signs of aging.

A chemical peel, Retin A, Botox, microdermabrasion or a surgical face lift can all help to improve the appearance of your face and make it look younger.

However, it’s worth noting that many cosmetic surgeons will not operate on heavy smokers because smoking delays the body’s ability to heal itself.

Therefore, unless you are willing to quit smoking for the time leading up to your surgery, you may not be able to have the plastic surgery that you desire.

7) Career Boost

If your job involves a high level of customer interaction, then you may want to improve your appearance so that customers perceive you differently to how they currently do.

confident business man

With the right procedure your career might just get that boost you’ve been hoping for.

The added confidence that cosmetic surgery can give you, in addition to the fact that people naturally prefer to look at attractive people, means that having the right procedure done can give you a significant career boost.

Even if you are not interacting with customers every day, just having a bit of extra confidence in the workplace can enable you to get on with people better and increase your job security, as you won’t have to worry about being laid off because you look too old.

Cosmetic Career Boost – CBS News – Plastic Surgery

There are two groups of people who have plastic surgery with the intention of benefiting their career.

The first, are young models, actors or singers who surgically enhance or alter their body not to make themselves look younger, but rather, to make themselves look more attractive.

The second group of people are those who are middle-aged professionals. Such individuals undergo surgery with the intention of reversing the signs of aging, so that they can feel more confident with the way they look or fit in better with a younger workforce.

If you think that your career would benefit from you changing the way you look, then it’s probably worth doing so because the extra money you will get from your career advancement will more than likely pay for the cost of any procedure that you have done.

8) Fit in & be Liked

Being liked and accepted by others is a common reason that people give for wanting cosmetic surgery, but it’s also one that can lead to a very slippery slope.

smiling women

We all want to be noticed, liked and accepted by others. Some people turn to surgery to help them achieve this goal.

Since the media largely dictates what society views as attractive, if you don’t fit that look, then you may feel unattractive and your mood and personality will suffer as a result.

If, however, a cosmetic procedure can make you look more like what is considered to be attractive, such as by undergoing breast augmentation or rhinoplasty surgery, then your mood and personality are likely to benefit from that surgical enhancement.

But this is a dangerous road to go down, because it’s very unlikely that you will ever look like the computer enhanced models that you see in the magazines.

Therefore, anyone who is attempting to look like a model by having cosmetic surgery, will probably never be truly satisfied with the way they look and so will always want more surgery to try to make themselves look better.

woman looking in mirror

If you desire to look like the models you see on TV or in magazines, you will probably be never satisfied with the way you look no matter how much surgery you have.

Another very important point to consider is that although cosmetic surgery can change how you interact with other people, it won’t necessarily make a drastic change to your personality.

In other words, if people don’t like you very much with how you look now, then changing your appearance probably isn’t going to make them like you any better.

Sure, you may get more attention from the opposite sex, but in terms of the friendships that you develop, that is something that comes from within you and not from how you look.

So please don’t think that by making yourself look more attractive that you will suddenly become a very popular person, because in all likelihood, you won’t.

9) Teen Plastic Surgery

Some parents want their children to have plastic surgery because they feel that their child would benefit from it whilst at school.


Unless your child has a gross deformity, having plastic surgery at a young age is not a good idea as it could lead to an addiction to surgery later on in life.

For example, if a child has an abnormality such as protruding ears, an overextended jaw or a facial disfigurement, then the parent may naturally want their child to have cosmetic or reconstructive surgery because the child’s appearance is having a negative affect on their life.

What is less advisable however, is agreeing to pay for surgery purely for cosmetic reasons, such as breast implants for a girl who has not yet fully developed her breasts.

This type of motivation for surgery is largely socially driven, and may later lead to an unhealthy obsession with plastic surgery and the opinions of others.

ABC Nightline's Lead Story – Dr. Sam Rizk & Teen Rhinoplasty

So as a general guideline, plastic surgery for children and young teens is usually only recommended when dealing with deformities or abnormalities, and not when it’s done purely for cosmetic reasons.

10) Make a New Start in Life

If you are getting married, starting a new relationship, moving to a new location or simply trying to make a new start in life, then cosmetic surgery is something that you might consider because a lot of people do it for this very reason.

woman hiding face

If something is really getting you down, having plastic surgery might just help to give you that fresh start in life.

Plastic surgery can give your body a new appearance, which can then make you feel as though you are a new person. When you feel like this, it’s a great time to make a new start in life with the new you.

But just remember that there are limits to what changing your appearance can do. It won’t fundamentally change the person you are inside, but it can certainly give you a boost that will allow you to make positive changes to your life.

Having a fresh start in life can be helpful in many ways, and each person has their own way of going about it. If yours is cosmetic surgery, and you think that it will help you to achieve your goals, then go for it and look forward to your new life!

11) Recover From Pregnancy

Having a baby can cause a woman’s body to rapidly change in ways that she is unaccustomed to. After the baby is born, many women find that they then struggle to get their body back to how it used to be.

pregnant woman

Pregnancy has many different effects on the body, some of which, can be difficult to recover from without help.

Some of the most common complaints that women have after giving birth are sagging breasts and a saggy/wrinkled tummy. Cosmetic surgery can help to address some of these concerns.

Saggy breasts can be quite effectively treated with breast uplift surgery. This can involve repositioning the nipple and inserting breast implants depending on the amount of sagging that the surgeon is trying to reverse.

But in the large majority of cases, scarring should be minimal, or at least easily concealed, and most women find that they are extremely pleased with the results.

Removing sagging skin around the tummy and waist region however, such as via abdominoplasty, can leave much greater visible scarring which may then make that woman feel self-conscious about her appearance.

San Antonio Plastic Surgery Mommy Makeovers

Fortunately, a woman should be able to conceal her abdominal scarring along her bikini line, so that her scars will not be visible when wearing jeans, swimwear or underwear.

So when dealing with sagging skin, a trade-off needs to be made between getting rid of sagging skin and the resulting scars that will remain.

If you are not bothered about the scarring, then getting rid of sagging skin is usually the preferred option as opposed to keeping it.

12) Remove Fat

People who are very overweight and lose weight quickly, usually end up having lots of excess sagging skin that can only be removed via surgery.

Typically, this will involve what is known as a “lower body lift” which combines a buttock lift, abdominoplasty and a thigh lift.

fat belly

Excess fat can quite effectively be removed from the body via surgery. But this could leave you with lots of sagging skin, which will then require further surgery to correct.

This type of procedure, however, which is also sometimes called “body contouring surgery”, will leave a significant amount of scarring.

So whenever possible, try to lose weight slowly and gradually over a prolonged period of time. But if you are very obese, you are likely to still require major surgery to remove your excess sagging skin.

In some cases, women may also choose to undergo breast reduction surgery, especially if they have very large and sagging breasts. This procedure will also leave a significant amount of scarring.

Less drastic fat removal can be achieved surgically via liposuction. This, however, is most suitable for small areas of fat that you are finding difficult to remove through traditional means such as diet or exercise.

But the main advantage of having liposuction is that you will be left with a minimal amount of scarring, and the recovery time will also be much quicker and less painful thereby allowing you to return back to work sooner.

Bad Reasons For Wanting Plastic Surgery

Whilst cosmetic surgery can help to improve the way you look and the way you feel about yourself, it isn’t the answer to every worry or concern that you may have.

Getting cosmetic surgery done for the wrong reason can very often leave you in a worse state emotionally, and sometimes, physically, than before you had the surgery.


Undergoing surgery for the wrong reason can often leave you in a worse state physically and emotionally than before your surgery.

So if you are seriously considering going under the knife, then it’s worth taking some time to think about whether plastic surgery really is the answer to your problems or if you would be better off pursuing another option instead.

If you want plastic surgery for any of the reasons listed below, you may therefore want to reconsider your decision as having surgery probably isn’t going to give you the help or change that you expect it to.

1) Aiming For Perfection

Sometimes, you may think that something about you looks strange, abnormal or ugly, but when you ask other people or even a plastic surgeon about it, they don’t see anything wrong with the way that you look.

The medical term for this is “body dysmorphic disorder” (BDD), and it requires the help of a psychiatrist or psychologist rather than a cosmetic surgeon.

blond girl

People with BDD are never satisfied with the way they look. As a result, they often undergo multiple procedures in an attempt to achieve a state of perfection.

A good plastic surgeon will not operate on anything which they consider to be normal, because people who want to change such parts of their body usually have psychological issues that they should resolve first before undergoing surgery.

A good example of body dysmorphic disorder can be found with Michael Jackson. Despite being an attractive black man, he felt the need to bleach his skin and drastically change the appearance of his face and nose.

But very few people would argue that he looked better after his operations than he did before them, as can be said for many other celebrities:

Top Ten Worst Plastic Surgery Disasters.

There are different levels of severity of body dysmorphic disorder. At the extreme end, a person has a completely unrealistic view of how they really look.

At the other end, a person can view their appearance for how it actually is, but will blow any minor imperfection out of proportion and turn it into something that it’s not.

However, just because nobody else thinks that the way you look should be changed with surgery, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should listen to them.

After all, it’s your body, and if you want to change how you look, then ultimately, that’s up to you.

marking on face

There’s nothing wrong with improving your looks, but just be careful that an underlying psychological problem is not influencing your decision.

But as was previously mentioned, you need to be absolutely sure that you are changing your appearance for the right reasons, because if you are trying to fix a psychological problem with surgery, then you are unlikely to be successful in doing so and could even end up causing yourself more problems later on.

So if you are in any doubt as to the true reason why you want to have plastic surgery, or if you have seen a surgeon who told you that you don’t really need surgery but you still feel that you do, go visit a psychiatrist just to rule out any possible psychological causes that could be affecting the way you view yourself.

2) Feeling Depressed

Having plastic surgery to change the way you look can help to improve the way you feel about yourself, but it’s important to remember that plastic surgery is not a substitute for mental health care.

So if you are feeling depressed, for example, then it’s recommended that you treat your depression first and then have plastic surgery if you still want to. There is an exception to this, however, and it applies to people who have a gross deformity.

girl pulling hat over head

Depression should always be treated first before going under the knife.

If your appearance is unusual or has been disfigured in some way, such as the result of having an accident or illness, then reconstructive plastic surgery is generally advised.

This is because a person with a deformed appearance is likely to suffer from low self-esteem as a direct result of the way they look.

For most people though, depression is something that you would be best talking to a psychiatrist about before you decide to undergo any type of procedure.

The reason being, is that once a person becomes depressed, they start to think differently from how they would normally think.

As a result, no amount of surgery is likely to bring them long-term relief from their depression as they will always be critical of the way they look.

woman looking in mirror

If you are in a state of depression, surgery is unlikely to have a long-term positive impact on your mood.

In many cases, patients with depression end up becoming even more depressed after their surgery, because once a person undergoes one procedure, they then start to identify other things which they don’t like and wish to change. This is exactly how an addiction to plastic surgery begins.

For these very serious reasons, any respectable plastic surgeon will refuse to operate on a patient who appears depressed or hopes that surgery will help to alleviate their depression.

If the surgeon is concerned about this, they may request clearance from a mental health professional before they will agree to operate on you.

3) Getting Your Ex Back

If a relationship ends and you are still in love with your partner, it’s a natural reaction to try to do whatever you can to get them back. For some people, this involves having plastic surgery with the hope that changing their appearance will win their ex back.

For example, the girl pictured below on the left has had plastic surgery to make herself look more like Jessica Alba (right) who her ex boyfriend is a big fan of.

girl plastic surgery

Girl (left) has plastic surgery to make herself look like Jessica Alba (right) to win her ex-boyfriend back who is a fan of Jessica Alba.

In some cases, improving your appearance will win your ex back. But such relationships rarely last because the reason they ended was not because of how one person looked, but rather, because of the personalities of the partners.

So even though plastic surgery could help to make you look better and become more attractive to your partner, it will do little to solve the underlying reason for why the relationship ended in the first place.

A far more successful approach would be to get your ex back first, maintain a happy and stable relationship, and then have plastic surgery if that’s what you still want.

4) To Recover After a Death

Some people who have lost a spouse start to worry that they will spend the rest of their life alone and that nobody will find them attractive because they are too old.

As a result, they feel that getting plastic surgery after the death of their partner is their best chance of finding love again.

grave stone

After the loss of a loved one it’s a natural reaction to wonder if you’re going to spend the rest of your life alone. This isn’t, however, a good frame of mind to be thinking about surgery.

Whilst this may be true in some cases, it’s never a good idea to undergo surgery when you are dealing with lots of stress in your life. This is because your thinking is likely to become impaired and you may end up making decisions that you later regret.

So if you have experienced the loss of a loved one, give yourself some time to grieve first. Then make your decision whether or not to have surgery when you are not in such a vulnerable frame of mind.

5) Feeling Bored

Believe it or not, some people feel that plastic surgery would be a good way to add some excitement to their life.

man bored

Boredom is not a good reason to have plastic surgery!

Any respectable surgeon would not accept this as a valid reason, and so would refuse to operate on a person who held such a belief.

If you are bored with life, try finding a new hobby or taking up exercise.

Cosmetic surgery is something that should only be considered as a means of helping you to overcome something which you feel is inhibiting your life, and not as a means of alleviating boredom.

6) Wanting to Please Someone Else

Having plastic surgery should always be your decision and not someone else’s. If you feel that someone else is pressuring you into having surgery, such as your partner, then you may want to seriously reconsider the relationship that you are in.

If your partner can’t accept you for the way you are now, then you’re probably better off with someone else who loves you for you rather than for some fantasy image which they have in their head.

girl faces

Don’t let other people pressure you into looking a certain way, as it’s you who will have to live with the changes to your body, not them!

Most often the people who are pressured into having plastic surgery are women by their husbands. If the woman wants to have surgery, then by all means she should go ahead.

But if she doesn’t like the idea of what is being proposed, for example, overly large breasts, then she should not allow herself to be forced or pressured into changing her appearance as she is likely to regret it later on.

For example, if a woman changes her body to please her husband and to meet his view of an attractive woman’s body, then if that relationship were to end, she may find attracting other men difficult because they may have a different idea of what a beautiful woman should look like.

This is a very real danger whenever you permanently change the way you look just to make another person happy, and in the worst case scenario, it could leave you with nobody who finds you attractive or who wants to be with you.

So if you choose to go under the knife, do it for your own reasons and not because someone else wants you to look a certain way.

Reviewed – 31st March 2016

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