Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to Talk To The Women iun Our Lives About Plastic Surger

As I reported in my last e-mail young girls and women are constantly bombarded with shows like "Nick and Tuck" which is basically talking to girl's and women's concerns about their place in society, how they are treated by others, etc... This population learns that the way to get ahead socially and in the workforce is to get plastic surgery to make them look almost model like and in that way they can grab the power they most desperately need. The problem with that thinking is the surgery will not make you different person or more popular, get you dates or make you a supermodel.

I am sure if you talk to girls and women who have had plastic surgery especially rhinoplasty that it didn't change their lives at all. In fact for some they have been hit with such a public scrutiny, especially if the surgery significantly altered the way they look. As a result these girls and women end up suffering with a life filled with anxiety and depression and a feeling of remourse for what they have done.

Plastic Surgeons are tricky in advertising their services. Using the internet by some of these doctors gives them ways to creatively and effectively market their services and that of their colleagues.

The other day when I opened up my aol account, there was a news flash on the internet entitled , The Number On Reason Women Have Cosmetic Surgery. The piece was written by a plastic surgeon and goes on to talk about the common misconceptions about why women have cosmetic surgery. The kind of categories that are mentioned are; They do it to attract men (husband chasing after a younger woman); They do it to boost their career (It's easier to find a job if you are "attractive"); They have to look better than their friends; They do it to look like their favorite movie star (Then their life will be glamorous and exciting too !). The article goes on to say the number one reason why women have cosmetic surgery is that they are unhappy about their bodies.

It goes on to discuss all the positive things that cosmetic surgery can do for you. Basically the commentary provided readers with alluring information that made plastic surgery so appealing that women would jump at the chance to be elevated into a life of luxury and privelege. In the beginning of the piece it appeared that this was against plastic surgery but as you read on you see it is an advertisement. A whole list of plastic surgeons advertise on this online news article. This happened to be the Ezine Articles.

How can we help the sisters in our lives avoid this pitfall before it is too late ? More on talking points for girls and women who are contemplating plastic surgery.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Psychosocial Outcomes of Cosmetic Surgery

I had a difficult time getting information on the psychosocial outcomes of cosmetic surgery when I googled the topic. I guess I need to review Psychiatry sources in the U.S. I did find some information from the Australian Psychological Society. Cosmetic surgery can enhance your life as well as your looks, according to industry advertisements and televison shows, such as Extreme Makeover and Nip/Tuck. The idea is that a face "lift" will also boost one's spirits and self-confidence. The problem is that evidence supporting this assumption is tentative. Research shows that, following cosmetic surgery, patients variously report their mental health has either improved, not changed or diminished. Psychiatrist David Castle, a leading Australian researcher on the psychological outcomes of cosmetic surgery, is concerned by the "gloss" applied to cosmetic surgery that suggests that you will have a new life. He believes that it doesn't change the person you are on the inside. David, who is a professor at the University of Melbourne and the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria, says that some research shows that cosmetic surgery can enhance self-esteem, which can feed into social confidence, but the eveidence for long-term effects on psychological wellbeing is scant and requires further investigation.

David and colleagues recently reviewed the literature on psychological outcomes for patients seeking cosmetic surgery (Honigman, Phillips and Castle, 2004). The authors analyzed 37 studies that evaluated psychological and psychosocial functioning before and after a range of elective cosmetic surgery procedures. Breast surgery (reduction and augmentation) was the procedure that was most consistently associated with good psychological outcomes. Nose and facial procedures produced mixed outcomes. Several studies that examined personality in cosmetic surgery patients also found mixed results, suggesting the way personality affects the surgical experience is unclear.

Overall, the review showed that most patients were satisfied with their results, but some demonstrated poor psychological outcomes. One of the strongest predictors of a poor outcome was having an extreme and unrealistic expectation of the surgery results, such as being able to find a new job or relationship. Younger women seemed to do worse than older people. Younger people are more likely to be seeking procedures for abnormalities which you and I would not see, or would think trivial concludes David. He reported that other predictors of poor outcomes include a history of numerous past procedures, depression and anxiety, and narcissistic or borderline personality traits although David cautions that very few studies examined personality systematically.

The evidence that some cosmetic surgery patients are dissatisfied with the results of surgery, despite it being an objective success, intrigued psychologist Julie Malone, who recently completed her doctoral thesis on the topic at the University of New England in north-east New South Wales. Her study followed the outcomes of 91 females aged 18 to 64 years (average age 42 years) who had elective facial cosmetic procedures, including nose procedures, face lifts, eye surgery and other minor procedures such as chins and teeth (Malone, 2003). Sydney-based plastic surgeons handed out anonymous questionnaires to patients to complete pre and post (three months after) surgery.

Julie's aim was to investigate the kind of person would be a poor candidate for cosmetic surgery. The factors she considered were age, type of procedure, number of previous remedies attempted, history of previous cosmetic surgery, mental health, and level of dysmorphic concern, which is the degree to which one is preoccupied with an imagined or perceived flaw.

Age was the only good predictor of satisfaction; older women reported higher levels of satisfaction with outcomes. Further investigations of this finding revealed that young women having nose procedures were the most dissatisfied group, Julei says. " I researched noses further and concluded that young people are seeking a quick fix for their image dissatisfactions", she says. "What I implied in my study was that they are shopping around for a new nose instead of accepting themselves for who they are and seeking other forms of therapy." Drawing on the literature, Julie says the implications are that young people are jumping into cosmetic procedures without thinking and are more susceptible to media presentations of beauty. Further, there is evidence that younger patients are looking for more external rewards, like romance or a better job, while older people are looking for internal rewards, like self-worth. As Hongiman et als (2004) review showed, seeking unrealistic rewards predicts a poor outcome.

Julie goes on to talk about how satisfied patients report lower levels of dysmorphic concern compared to dissatisfied patients. I will talk about the different findings on how patients with higher levels of dysmorphic concern are less likely to benefit from cosmetic surgery, psychological screening for cosmetic surgery and treatment of Body Dysmorphic Syndrome in my next blog.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mentoring Young Girls

How refreshing is Kate Winslet ? In her interview in the February issue of Instyle Magazine, she stated that she is a normal human being. She said that she doesn't have any desire to change her body as a result of having two kids. Wouldn't it be wonderful if more Hollywood stars would talk like that. I thought it was interesting that the only older women (over 45), that were interviewed on the red carpet at the Golden Globe awards recently were Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange. Both of them wore their sunglasses during the interview. They didn't wear revealing dresses. What were they afraid that the cameras would catch ? They are beautiful middle-aged women who are aging normally. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see some lines on a face or a less than hour glass figure on the red carpet. What would be even better would be for fashion magazines to have more pictures of stars over 45 who have a normal body and a normal face that might have a line or two or a body that might be a little thicker around the middle but still very attractive.

Famous men in magazines can show signs of aging, a bit heavier around the middle and in the face, and no one says anything. In fact, the richer they are the more acceptable it seems to the public. Look at Billy Joel and his young wife probably more than 20 years his junior, he is not exactly svelt. You see alot of older male stars in all these magazines, John Travolta, Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, no one comments in the magazines on how they have aged. Where are the female stars their ages ?

All the older male singers are making a comeback, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springtein, Paul McCartney. In fact, Paul Mc Cartney was interviewed last night on the Colbert Report and he was being very cutesy. He didn't seem to have any problem being seen with a bit of saggy skin around the face, receding hairline, etc... Would an important woman his age be interviewed on TV whose face was losing a bit of the definition that she might have had when she was younger ? We don't see any form of realistic aging of women in a status position on TV.

Hilary Rodham Clinton is the exception. Women should be talking to their young daughters whether they are 10 or 30 about how good it is to see a woman of intellect and power running for President of the United States. How wonderful she looks as a normal woman, not stick thin and unhealthy as a model. How good her face looks without having to have a have a unnecessary and not very attractive face lift.

Does anyone talk to girls about what a lifetime of dieting, which many of the models have to do to fit societal unrealistic standards, does to you bones ? Women who don't eat well, are at risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. I could go on and on.

Girl Talk

I am looking for men and women who would like to get involved in helping mentor/support girls of all ages. Many of you might be staggered by the statistics out there of how the suicide rate for girls ages 10-14 increased a whopping 76 % in 2004 according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. For those between 15-18 years of age, the rate went up 30 %. How about that TV shows like "The Swan", " Nip/Tuck", "Extreme Makeover", etc... that may be driving women and girls to get cosmetic procedures. The number of 18-year-olds who underwent breast implant surgery nearly tripled from 2002 to 2003. There has been a 444% increase in plastic surgery since 1997. Over 90% of all plastic surgery is performed on women. Americans spent approximatley $12.4 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2006.

Something is seriously wrong in our society. As to the shows that have examined and promoted the benefits of plastic surgey, University Of Southern California professor Julie Albright believes the shows are driving women of all ages to go under the knife. Albright's study, "Impossible Bodies", surveyed 662 colege students in Los Angeles and Buffalo and asked them about their viewing habits and body image. The study recently published in Configurations Journal from Johns Hopkins University Press shows that women that women watch these shows more than men and the more they watch the more they are likely to feel anxiety about their bodies, Albright said.

Albright believes that women are being taught to access power and status through their looks. Rather than buy a Gucci bag women are more likely now to buy new breasts as a sign of success.

At the very least, these shows act as an advertisment for the plastic surgery industry, Albright believes. At the most, these shows impose unrealistic beauty standards that make women question their own bodies while giving them an instruction manual on how to change their appearance.

Albright found the shows play off children's stories most American children know by heart such as Cinderella and The Ugly Ducking. Albright said that it is now everywhere. It is not just for rich women behind closed doors.

Although many of the findings were the same for both geographical areas, the L.A. students felt that their "problem" body parts were a moral failing while the Buffalo students felt their body issues could keep them from achieving success.

What is all of this teaching our young girls ? What can be done about it ? Well for one, we women can be positive role models for the young girls in our lives. We can model the behavior that we would like to see in the girls in our lives. We can demonstrate to them how important it is to eat healthy and exercise to help us feel good, emotionally and physically.

Another thing we can do is to be involved in the community and talk to the girls in our lives about that. Why not stress all the satisfaction and enrichment that you get from all of this. You can describe all the wonderful people that touch your life as a result of your community involvement and the fun and enriching things you do. This might interest them to do their own community service project or to join you in yours. Getting middle-schoolers to think about something other than themselves like ecology or helping those in need is a great antidote to all the negative things they are seeing in the media and possibly experiencing with peers. They need a connection to something deeper than themselves, their friends and their appearance.