A small study has weighed in on whether cosmetic surgery can make us look more attractive, or just younger (and the same amount of attractive), or neither. The findings have been making waves, with the people charged with examining the photos reporting that the patients didn’t appear more attractive after their surgery and that they looked, on average, just three years younger.
The small group of doctors had study participants look at before and after photos of their cosmetic plastic surgery patients to see if the changes were boosting their patients’ attractiveness or simply making people look a few years younger.
People will not stop seeking cosmetic surgery, since we undergo these procedures to make ourselves feel better, not necessarily to impress other people with our good looks, though that does count.
The study had 50 observers looking at 49 patient photographs before and after facelifts, neck lifts and eyelid surgery. The participants had to guess the patients’ ages and rate their attractiveness.
While the study is useful in some respects – that is, pointing out that cosmetic surgery, despite popular opinion, is not necessarily always designed to make people look younger and more attractive to their fellow man – it skips a critical component of cosmetic procedures: patient satisfaction. The study did not ask the patients in question if they were happy with their surgeries.
Cosmetic procedures make us feel good
If a part of your body or face has been bugging you your whole life, or even just for a while, changing it can bring a lot of very positive feelings. Improving self-acceptance is only ever a good thing, and if someone decides that altering their appearance in some way will achieve this, that is a very positive outcome.
Our sense of how we view ourselves really varies between us, and how we look or want to look is very individual. We see ourselves differently from the way other people observe us, usually in greater detail, and the bits of ourselves that we pick on may not ever appear on someone else’s radar. Many studies have demonstrated increased self-confidence and self-esteem after cosmetic procedures, and whether anyone else can see this or not seems to not matter. When we look at ourselves in the mirror every day, what we see matters the most to us.
Plastic surgery’s goal may not be to make someone look more attractive or even younger; the goal may be to correct the balance of features or repair damage. It may also be a tiny change, like correcting the line of a slightly bent nose with a non-surgical rhinoplasty.
Nonsurgical or surgical rhinoplasties are a great example of how a person will still look like themselves after the procedure, but just improved. Nobody would notice that a rhinoplasty has been performed, because when we look at a face, we look at certain cues, as opposed to scientifically taking the whole thing in piece by piece – a prominent nose may be the feature that creates balance or beauty on a face, as opposed to hanging its owner out to dry in the looks department.
Nonsurgical options for rhinoplasty can quickly correct a bend or tip angle, for example, without changing anything structurally. (We perform quick, in-clinic nonsurgical rhinoplasties at our Melbourne clinic.)
A face is a complex set of messages, rather than distinct images, being transmitted to the human brain that help others figure out what we are going to do next. Feeling good matters.
We want you to look like yourself, but better!
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