Does cosmetic surgery actually work?
March 21, 2011 8:04 AM Subscribe
Does cosmetic surgery actually make people happier?
posted by metaBugs to science & nature (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Another round of adverts for cosmetic surgery have gone up around my city, implying that we'll all be happier if we get our breasts, noses, pecs or tummies worked on. So: is this true?
When searching, I've come across a couple of papers reporting improvements to patients' happiness and to their opinion of their own appearance. However, these were quite short-term follow-ups (6-12 months in the papers I read) and, crucially, were only in patients who'd undergone "restorative" plastic surgery, e.g. repairing scarring suffered by burn victims or replacing breasts removed from mastectomy patients.
What I'm particularly interested in is follow-up of people who've had, for want of a better term, purely aesthetic plastic surgery. For example, people without obvious scarring or other physical defects who choose to have breast enlargement, liposuction, face lifts, etc. How happy are they with their appearance n years after surgery, relative to the rest of the (unmodified) population? Did they get a lasting improvement to their self-esteem, confidence, overall happiness?
Googling just finds me lots of brochures and churnalism. Can you point toward good peer-reviewed research on the subject (survey data, patient follow-ups, etc) or write-ups of this data from a reputable source?
To forestall the obvious well-intentioned question: I am not considering undergoing cosmetic surgery, so your answers are not at risk of pushing me into a major life decision. I'm just a nerd whose first reaction to irritating adverts is demanding to see the data backing their claim.