Cosmetic surgery is often performed to give patients a more youthful and revitalized look to the face and other body parts such as the butt and breasts. They have a cosmetic procedure such as Botox and fillers or a Brazilian butt lift (BBL) and a breast lift to turn back the clock and rejuvenate the look of the body in the targeted area. While the desire for a younger look is a normal reason for patients to have cosmetic surgery, a new study shows wanting to gain a healthier look is a growing reason for the performance of cosmetic procedures.
According to a new study from Northwestern Medicine, some patients who are dealing with a serious illness believe cosmetic surgery might help them feel better in certain social situations. They want to undergo a cosmetic procedure to have a better feeling about their appearance when they are in social settings with friends and family as well as in the workplace.
Dr. Murad Alam is the senior author of the study as well as the vice chair of dermatology and chief of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. According to Dr. Alam, “Patients dealing with serious illnesses have visible signs of their health problems, which make them feel unhappy about themselves. Cosmetic procedures that improve appearance make these patients feel better and more confident during a time when they are already going through so much.”
The study, which was recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, asks patients who are sick the reasons why they have made the decision to undergo some type of cosmetic procedure.
The study results revealed that patients suffering from a major medical illness decide to have a cosmetic procedure in order to better maintain their mental and physical well-being as well as be more comfortable in a social setting. These patients believe the performance of a cosmetic procedure might help them reinvigorate their relationships as well as reintegrate into society without having an appearance that stands out or looks sick to others.
When it comes to the individuals who took part in the study, they included patients who have experienced medical conditions including (but not limited to) prostate cancer, a stroke, advanced cervical cancer, advanced melanoma, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
It was reported that 75\\% of the participants in the study were having a cosmetic treatment because of their major medical illness while 66\\% of the study participants were looking to have cosmetic surgery because of a medical treatment.
The motivations of the participants were varied, and they included wanting to maintain their mental well-being, alleviating the impact their condition had on any success at work, enhanced social acceptance, slowing down the aging process and responding to suggestions from their doctor as well as family and friends.
The published results of the study also included the following comments from some of the participants:
A 34-year-old woman with breast cancer said, “Post-treatment, you look in the mirror negative-wise. You have no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, nothing. My immune system was severely low, so I looked really pale and anemic. It’s like you don’t even recognize yourself anymore.”
In addition, a 54-year-old patent with breast cancer and sagging eyelids said, “I feel as though the medical treatments I’ve gone through have left me looking a little more aged, a little more tired than my peers.”
The participants in the study discussed their cosmetic procedure choices and they included a wide range of treatments. The list of procedures included a number of noninvasive options such as fillers, neurotoxin injections, chemical peels, lasers, radiofrequency devices, microneedling, and dermabrasion. The invasive procedure choices included liposuction, facelift, and eyelid lifts.
As part of the study, twelve patients who had cosmetic procedures during the treatment or after the start of the illness were interviewed by a trained investigator. The investigator asked questions about their procedure choices and why they chose those options.
Many of the people participating in the study noted the safety of noninvasive cosmetic procedures as one of the reasons that made these treatment choices an attractive option. There were others who said it was important to them to know their doctor, family or friends recommended or endorsed certain cosmetic treatment choices before they had the procedure.
Dr. Alam shared that the choice of a cosmetic procedure to lessen the visible signs of a disease is a deliberate choice that is given a great deal of thought by patients who have a major medical illness. He added that one way to help patients find the solution that best suits their needs is improved communication between doctors and patients and also sharing the decision-making process. “These findings may help improve conversations between physicians and patients who are interested in getting cosmetic procedures, so that they have information on procedures that are most safe and helpful for them.”