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Today people are undergoing cosmetic procedures at a higher rate than any other time. While some mistakingly think this is linked to poor self-image or heightened body insecurities, the truth is that cosmetic surgery encompasses dozens of different procedures that millions of Americans utilize for a variety of reasons. To help better understand the usefulness of cosmetic procedures and why so many people get it, let’s look at a couple of significant points.
Cosmetic Surgery Is Becoming More Common
While there is still a modicum of stigma around the field, those who rail against it often don’t understand it’s popularity. Data shows that the most common surgical procedures include:
- Breast augmentation
- Rhinoplasty (nose reshaping)
- Blepharoplasty (eye lift)
- Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
Minimally invasive procedures include:
- Dermal fillers
- Chemical peels
- Laser hair removal
These cosmetic procedures, whether invasive or not, all seek to improve the appearance of the body or otherwise correct an issue that the patient is unhappy with. Dermal fillers, for example, are often used to reverse signs of aging and in recent years has grown to rival botox injections as one of the top five minimally-invasive procedures people undergo every year.
Additionally, while breast augmentation remains the most undergone surgical procedures, certified cosmetic surgeons still perform, on average, 90,000 breast reductions to help alleviate the pain or discomfort that can often come from naturally large breasts. In this way, the cosmetic practice is used, not only for appearance but for medical and personal lifestyle reasons.
Acceptance and Awareness
Another reason for the uptick in cosmetic procedures is the growing awareness that it is an option and the acceptance that most people feel towards it. Once frowned upon and seldom talked about, today most everyone knows cosmetic surgery, if not someone who has undergone a procedure. No longer is it something hidden behind closed doors as people post-recovery photos on social media and speak openly about their experiences. This openness has led to more people learning about cosmetic surgery and further dispelling its reputation as something less respectful.
The increase in affordability has likewise made cosmetic procedures more widely accessible to the general public. No longer is it something only the wealthiest lifestyles can benefit from, people from all walks of life can boost their self-esteem or fix tangible problems that otherwise would have gone uncorrected.
Today, the most common types of cosmetic surgery patients are professional working individuals and stay-at-home moms who are looking to boost their appearance after having kids — a far cry from the Beverly Hills stereotypes most of us know from satirical media.
Furthermore, financing options are also commonly utilized; however, some surgeries such as breast reduction might be covered by health insurance provided it is done for a documented medical reason.
Advances in the Field
Medical and technological advances in the field have also contributed to the growing popularity. As procedures become more refined and less noticeable, more and more people consider them as viable options that allow them to change what they want without a massive amount of downtime or noticeability. Braces are a good example of this, as adults make up 20% of patients each year. This is because of inventions such as Invisalign, which allows adults to retain their lifestyles and smile normally, without worrying about showing off a mouthful of metal. In fact, appearance improvement is the largest reason why many adults get braces, and as technology like Invisalign becomes more well known, the number of patients each year is expected to grow.
Additionally, procedures such as dermal fillers, have become so quick and easy that it’s now possible to get them during your lunchbreak and go back to work immediately after without nearly any indication that you’ve received treatment at all. These less noticeable treatments, coupled with affordability, possibly contribute the largest to the overall increase.
As touched on above, some cosmetic procedures can have tangible health benefits that can allow individuals to improve their lifestyles and comfort. Botox, for example, might be known for its ability to diminish lines and wrinkles; however, it has also shown promise in relieving chronic migraines, Bell’s palsy, excessive sweating, and possibly even depression. Likewise, breast reduction has been shown to help reduce back problems, and excess skin removal from those who’ve lost significant weight can help prevent infections and rashes from forming between skin folds. Cosmetic procedures have a lot of promise when it comes to helping to mitigate or remedy tangible medical issues, it’s not always about just a pretty face.
Boosted Self Confidence
Of course, even if medical issues are the driving factor behind a cosmetic procedure, the boost in self-confidence is still something to write home about. While we all have things we wish we could change about ourselves, sometimes that little extra boost is all someone needs to feel more confident and more self-accepting. Despite the improvements in affordability, accessibility, and procedure, the driving factor is still the same for many people, the desire to outwardly express the body they feel most comfortable in. This, in turn, can help them led a more rewarding lifestyle as they will feel more comfortable with themselves in every situation.
Considerations Before a Procedure
Now that we understand why cosmetic procedures are on the rise, it’s time to look at what to do if you’d like to undergo any of the processes yourself. While some procedures, like laser hair removal, aren’t nearly as invasive as rhinoplasty, for instance, there are still things to consider before heading to a surgeon or clinician.
- When Did You Grow Last? This question is aimed more at younger patients whose bodies are still developing. Your weight, height, and breast size should remain the same for at least a year before you decide to undergo any type of augmentation. While it isn’t recommended that teenagers rush to get cosmetic surgeries done — unless it is for health reasons — development is something to consider if you’re thinking of changing anything.
- What are You Looking to Correct? Before heading in for any type of procedure, you should know specifically what you’d like corrected. For example, if you’re considering rhinoplasty because you’re unhappy with your nose or you’re having difficulty breathing, that’s something tangible that can be done to improve your lifestyle; however, there is a fine line between boosting self-esteem and undergoing a change to make yourself feel better. Consider critically why you wish to change a specific feature and speak at length with your surgeon about your goals. Cosmetic surgery, despite common belief, isn’t the end all be all of improving self-image, and if you have an underlying body image issue, plastic surgery can easily become a habit that is difficult to break.
- Why Do You Want Surgery? While not surgery specific, this can apply to botox or dermal fillers, those aren’t as permanent as something more invasive. Consider why you want plastic surgery and if it is something that will truly make you happier and improve your lifestyle. For instance, you should never change yourself to imitate a celebrity, fit in with a specific social circle, or on an impulse. The best reason for cosmetic intervention is longtime consideration and the knowledge that it will make you happier in the lifestyle you lead.
- What Are Your Expectations? Everyone has expectations before they head in to meet with their surgeons. While most goals are reasonable, if you head in with the unrealistic expectation that you’ll look like Angelina Jolie when you’re done, you’re going to be disappointed. The main goal of plastic surgery is to enhance the body you have, not make you look like someone else entirely. Your surgeon should explain what they can realistically do and how best they can utilize the form you have to give you the improvements you’ll be happiest with. Today, some even use digital models to give you a better look at the results you can expect at the end. If you’re unsure at all or have any doubts that this is for you, it’s best to wait for a while and step back to consider your goals. You don’t want to undergo a procedure only to realize that you don’t love the final results.
- What Else Can Be Done? Another important thing to ask yourself before stepping into the surgeon’s office is if you’ve done everything you can to achieve the changes you’d like without surgical intervention. Doctors what patients to have healthy lifestyles and advocate for healthy eating and exercise, along with the resolution of physical or mental health issues, before jumping into surgery. Consider if your goals could be reached with the help of a trainer and nutritionist, before asking for cosmetic intervention.
- Have You Learned About the Risks? While not common, risks are still involved with every type of cosmetic procedure. Risks from invasive surgeries can include scarring, bleeding, blood clots, and the need for additional surgeries if the result was infrequent or you’re not satisfied. Corrective surgeries like this are often more painful and costly with no guaranteed results. Additionally, if you smoke, most surgeons will advise quitting in the months leading up to the procedure as nicotine can interfere with the blood supply, increasing the risk of complications.
- Have You Considered All The Aspects? Firstly, you should research and meet with different surgeons to find out who you’re most comfortable with and if they can provide the results you’re looking for. You’ll want a board-certified surgeon with a good reputation who is able to answer any and all of your questions. Secondly, consider the more practical aspects of a procedure. What do you want to be done? What is the total cost going to be? How much time will you need off work, and who will help with care after? Sometimes it’s simple, but crucial, details like this that get lost in the excitement and forgotten about until it’s too late.
Cosmetic surgery is on the rise and overall this is a good thing. As more and more people take control of their appearances and utilize these procedures to boost their self-esteem, the subject becomes widely accepted and less of a taboo only talked about behind closed doors. Capable of boosting confidence or even solving medical issues, this type of surgery is something that millions of Americans have benefitted from, and millions more will in the future.
That being said, regardless of it’s increasing accessibility, some procedures still require a great deal of thought and consideration making them something you should never rush into. Consider you’re motivations and speak with your surgeon about the options available and what results you can expect to receive in the end. While not all procedures are as permanent as invasive surgery, each option requires that you understand the realistic results and the potential risks that can come with it.
At the end of the day, all cosmetic procedures are personal choices that have the ability to transform lifestyles and appearances. Whether you’re considering breast augmentation, rhinoplasty, botox, or dermal fillers, remember to research and ask questions, keep your expectations realistic, and always listen to the advice your doctor or clinician gives you.