When most of us think of plastic surgery, we contemplate the different things we would - or are going to - have done: that bump on the nose smoothed down, the perky boobs put in, the fat we'll have sucked out. But perhaps the most important question we should ask when considering plastic surgery is not what - but rather why?
Plastic surgery is becoming an increasingly popular choice as people realise that they no longer have to tolerate a body part that they find aesthetically upsetting. And while the procedures involved in plastic surgery can be as risky as having any other operation performed, the truth is that technological advances have made having plastic surgery easier than ever before. Within minimal time frames, patients can be up and about again, with all manner of altered body parts, and, theoretically at least, with exactly what they wanted. So why is it that many plastic surgery patients are no happier after surgery than they were before?
Plastic surgery is not a cure-all, and must not be seen as such. Many prospective patients await anaesthesia with unrealistic expectations in mind. And no matter how obvious an assertion it might seem, too many patients are not grasping it fully - plastic surgery can alter our bodies, but not the way we feel inside.
For many patients, it is not the decried body part that is the true problem, but rather the self-perception with which it is viewed. In other words, the wish to change a physical attribute can be a symptom of a larger problem. While there is no doubt that many patients find their confidence improved ten-fold after surgery, there are many other who, without realistic expectations of what the operation would change, simply remove their dissatisfaction from the altered body part to a new one.
Plastic surgery changes the body, not body image. So before considering any physical alteration, ask yourself whether your issue is something that can only be changed from the inside out. Because unless you are having surgery to simply change the dimensions of a part of your body, you will be disappointed with the results. Approach your self-perception first - you might be surprised with the effectiveness of a little surgery to the psyche.
Jeff Lakie is the founder of Plastic Surgery Resources a website providing information on cosmetic surgery.