Cosmetic Surgery and Changes
in Body Image
DAVID B. SARWER
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that more than 1.3 million Americans underwent cosmetic surgery in 2000, an increase of more than 225% since 1992. While staggering, these statistics underestimate the number of cosmetic procedures performed annually, as physicians from a variety of medical specialties now offer cosmetic medical treatments. The five most popular procedures in 2000 were liposuction (removal of fat), breast augmentation, blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), Botox injections (to reduce wrinkles), and facelifts. These procedures are no longer reserved for the wealthy and elite; women and men across age, racial, and socioeconomic groups now seek cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance and, ultimately, their body image.
This chapter provides an overview of the relationship between cosmetic surgery and body image. It begins by reviewing psychological studies of cosmetic surgery patients and discussing the theoretical relationship between body image and cosmetic surgery. Studies directly investigating the body image concerns of cosmetic surgery patients are also reviewed. The relationship betweenbodyimagepsychopathologyandcosmeticsurgeryisdiscussed.The chapter concludes with an overview of patient assessment procedures for mental health professionals who encounter cosmetic surgery patients.
Interest in the psychological aspects of cosmetic surgery dates back more than 50 years. With few exceptions, clinical reports and formal studies have investigated the psychological issues of adult women, who represent the