According to a study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, a person’s overall level of body satisfaction has no influence on whether a person is interested in most forms of aesthetic plastic surgery.
"This study shows the majority of people who want plastic surgery have a normal level of body satisfaction," says Richard D’Amico, MD, ASPS president-elect. "We use the term ‘look as good as you feel’ often and it is good to know this is why the average plastic surgery patient has a cosmetic procedure. They are not, in fact, suffering from low or poor self-esteem."
The study looked at two measures of body image and satisfaction—self-rated attractiveness and comfort in a swimsuit. Overall body satisfaction in people interested in aesthetic plastic surgery, other than liposuction, did not differ from people who were not interested.
People who were interested in liposuction did report lower body satisfaction than other individuals. This was true for men and women, even when statistically controlling for differences in body mass index (BMI) between the groups. People with a higher BMI and those who felt they were too heavy were more likely to express an interest in liposuction than those who were satisfied with their weight. This may indicate a belief that liposuction is for weight loss rather than body contouring.
"It is critical to remember that liposuction is not appropriate for weight loss," says D’Amico. "Liposuction is ideal for people who are at or near their ideal body weight, and have stubborn, localized deposits of fat they want removed."
Individuals who frequently monitored their appearance were more likely to report an interest in aesthetic procedures than those who paid less attention to their looks. This suggests a strong investment in one’s appearance may motivate individuals to consider plastic surgery.
While men and women’s interest in aesthetic plastic surgery did not generally differ based on their relationship status, an exception was seen in older women. Single and married women aged 56 to 65 were less interested in aesthetic procedures than dating or cohabitating women of the same age.
According to the study that surveyed more than 52,000 people, 48% of women were interested in having aesthetic plastic surgery and 23% said they were possibly interested. In addition, 23% of men said they were interested in aesthetic plastic surgery and 17% were possibly interested.
Contrary to popular belief, older people did not have a higher desire for plastic surgery. Instead, a similar percentage reported interest across all age groups for women and men.
"People interested in most forms of plastic surgery did not differ significantly from the general population in terms of body satisfaction," says David Frederick, Candidate PhD, psychology, University of Los Angeles and study co-author. "However, Americans appear to experience greater pressure to be slender than to have ideal noses, breasts and so forth, which could explain why people less satisfied with their weight were more interested in liposuction."
[www.medicalnewstoday.com, October 19, 2007]