Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Should I have plastic surgery to better my self esteem?"
I feel bad about the way I look and am tired of never going out. I am 27 and otherwise very confident. Should I look into plastic surgery?
The decision to undergo plastic surgery is a complex one, and should not be undertaken lightly. An in-person consultation with a plastic surgeon will help provide more information, and should not replace the advice you receive here. That said, you should have a conversation with your primary care doctor about the reasons you feel low self esteem. Plastic surgery generally works best when you have one focused area with which you are unsatisfied (i.e. a misshapen nose) which causes you distress. This allows the surgeon to take a focused approach to fix the single presenting complaint, and increases the chances that surgery will benefit you psychologically. There are numerous psychiatric and medical diagnoses which can complicate the decision to undergo plastic surgery. First is depression, which can more globally impair your sense of self-worth and is often treated with medications. The next is obesity, which is poorly treated with plastic surgery and better treated with careful counseling around diet and exercise (in partnership with your primary care doctor), or in extreme cases with surgery of the stomach and intestines. A final diagnosis is body dysmorphic disorder, a pervasive psychiatric condition in which individuals are very dissatisfied with their appearance, leading them to often seek multiple plastic surgeries but without being satisfied with the outcome. If you are seriously considering plastic surgery, I would urge you to make an appointment with your primary care doctor to consider these and alternate reasons for your low self esteem and determine whether you are a good candidate.
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