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Each of us has a "self-image," a perception of how we believe we look to others. People who are happy with their self-image are more likely to be self-confident, effective in work and social situations, and comfortable in their relationships. Those who are dissatisfied tend to be self-conscious, inhibited, and less effective in activities.
Plastic surgery -- whether cosmetic or reconstructive -- encourages and promotes a strong, positive self-image. Even a small change on the outside can create an extraordinary change on the inside, allowing an individual's self-confidence to flourish.
Because the changes resulting from plastic surgery are often dramatic and permanent, it's important that you have a clear understanding of how surgery might make you feel-- long before a procedure is scheduled.
If you are considering plastic surgery, you must be honest with yourself. Exactly why do you want surgery? And, what are your goals for surgery-what do you expect plastic surgery to do for you?
There are two categories of patients who are good candidates for operation. The first includes patients with a strong self-image, who are bothered by a physical characteristic that they'd like to improve or change. After surgery, these patients feel good about the results and maintain a positive image about themselves.
The second category includes patients who have a physical defect or cosmetic flaw that has diminished their self-esteem over time. These patients may adjust rather slowly after surgery, as rebuilding confidence takes time. However, as they adjust, these patients' self-image is strengthened, sometimes dramatically.
It's important to remember that plastic surgery can create both physical changes and and changes in self-esteem. If you are seeking surgery with the hope of influencing a change in someone other than yourself, you might end up disappointed. It's possible that friends and loved ones will respond positively to your change in appearance and self-confidence, however understand and accept that plastic surgery will not cause dramatic changes in people other than you.
Not everyone is an appropriate candidate for plastic surgery, despite physical indications which are ideal for any given procedure. Experienced plastic surgeons can usually identify troubled patients during a consultation. Sometimes plastic surgeon will decline to operate on these individuals. Other times, they may recommend psychological counseling to ensure that the patient's desire for an appearance change isn't part of an emotional problem that no amount of surgery can fix. If your plastic surgeon recommends counseling for you, feel free to ask your surgeon how he or she expects the sessions to help you.
Though there are exceptions, individuals who may be advised to seek counseling prior to any consideration of surgery include:
Patients in crisis, such as those who are going through divorce, the death of a spouse, or the loss of a job. These patients may be seeking to achieve goals that cannot be obtained through an appearance change-goals that relate to overcoming crisis through an unrelated change in appearance is not the solution. Rather, a patient must first work through the crisis.
Patients with unrealistic expectations, such as those who insist on having a celebrity's nose, with the hope that they may acquire a celebrity lifestyle; patients who want to be restored to their original "perfection" following a severe accident or a serious illness; or patients who wish to find the youth of many decades past.
Impossible-to-please patients, such as individuals who consult with surgeon after surgeon, seeking the answers they want to hear. These patients hope for a cure to a problem which is not primarily, or not at all physical.
Patients who are obsessed with a very minor defect, and may believe that once their defect is fixed, life will be perfect. Born perfectionists may be suitable candidates for surgery, as long as they are realistic enough to understand that surgical results may not precisely match their goals.
Patients who have a mental illness, and exhibit delusional or paranoid behavior, may also be poor candidates for surgery. Surgery may be appropriate in these cases if it is determined that the patient's goals for surgery are not related to the psychosis. In these cases, a plastic surgeon may work closely with the patient's psychiatrist.