Why Do People Get Plastic Surgery?

I can’t tell you why each individual is motivated to get plastic surgery.  But I can tell you why we help people on their journey and what we’ve seen. We’ve seen that most people have a plastic surgery procedure because they want to see themselves in a particular way–they want to feel good about themselves.  Often people with little understanding will say that if you need surgery to feel good about yourself, then there is something wrong with you.  That’s not how we see it at all.

This painting of a purple tree was commissioned by us from Dr. Petersen’s father.  He is recently retired and began painting just a couple of years ago.  People come into our office all the time and remark on this striking painting.  We are still trying to convince him to sell prints for some of our patients.  We thought we would take a moment to explain why this painting is so important to us, as it hits at the heart of what plastic surgery means in our office and to our patients.

Notice how the purple of the blossoming tree stands out against the misty, indistinct background. It is as though the tree has awakened from the slumber of it’s environment and has found its own beauty. The tree is in full bloom even though the trees around it are engulfed in the colorless stillness. The power of its beauty is that it stands alone, it blooms without apology or permission.

Many of our patients bloom before our eyes thorough their surgical journey. They begin engulfed in the colorless mist–not because they aren’t already beautiful, but because they are haunted by a self image they cannot fix alone. For some reason in our society if you transform your body through diet (healthy or not), hours in the gym, time at the salon or spa, or with money at the mall, and you come out with a sparkle in your eye and a bounce of self-confidence in your step then we are proud of you. But if you use the modern miracle of medicine to transform your body, be it plastic surgery, weight loss surgery, medication–even mental health medication, then you should be ashamed. Some kinds of transformations we applaud and some kinds of transformations we judge.

In our office, we see women, and men, find a new way of looking at themselves. With the changes we help them achieve they suddenly see themselves in full bloom.  That bloom emerges not because they have gained acceptance from society around them. It doesn’t matter what color the background is. Our patients bloom because they see themselves as beautiful. They were always beautiful, but now they recognize the vibrancy of their own beauty.

I think it was Rachelle Welch who said nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful. That is why people get plastic surgery. They need to see themselves bloom, one or two changes and suddenly they see how beautiful they have always been.  They believe they are beautiful and their true beauty blooms.

It is the few who never get enough that make a splash in the news and make us all cringe.  There are those for whom the changes and maintenance are not enough and they seek so much change that they are no longer recognizable. We see so many husbands that are terrified they won’t recognize their wife when she wakes up from surgery and somehow the wife they love will be lost. Those seeking unhealthy change or who need more and more change as they chase an unattainable standard are few and far between. We see a lot of people come through our doors. It is easy to spot those for whom no amount of change will ever help them feel good about themselves.  It takes only a few minutes in the consultation room to identify them.  But that is not the people we see most often.

Our job through the plastic surgery journey is to help our patients see themselves from a new perspective. Then, like the tree, they stand out from the misty, indistinct background. They see their own vivid blooms. They stand strong, without apology or permission.