The Impact of Plastic Surgery on Mental Health

Paul Drake
Paul Drake
August 14, 2023
5 min read


As you may have seen, my team and I have been beavering away in Aberdeen for the last few months establishing our new venture, Profile Aesthetic as a leading provider of Plastic Surgery and Aesthetics in Scotland. Our new clinic specialises in providing a wide range of surgical and non-surgical procedures safely and effectively.

As part of my role at Profile Aesthetic, I want to raise awareness of - and take part in the lively conversation about - plastic surgery and rejuvenation treatments. I’ll be posting regular articles here about my role as a consultant plastic surgeon, about the industry and new and emerging technologies; and I’ll try to tie them into the many international awareness months and days that are relevant to my profession. 

April is stress awareness month, and I’d like to talk briefly about how we at Profile Aesthetic recognise the difficulties people experience when considering the next steps of their journey, and how the types of treatments we offer can help reduce stress.

Plastic surgery and rejuvenation treatments to help reduce stress

A broad and common misconception about plastic surgery is that it’s all about vanity. But looking how we want to look isn’t only about the physical; mostly it‘s about how we feel - and how we feel hugely impacts how we live and interact with the world. 

At its core, it’s about people living their lives with all the bumps and scrapes that come with it; accidents that cause disfigurement, or serious diagnoses like cancer, or how our bodies change over time. This can be difficult for people for many different reasons, but often it’s deeply personal and has little to do with what other people think.

Suffering an injury, or receiving a serious diagnosis like cancer can have a profound impact - both physically and mentally. Patients go through a whole range of emotions when trying to process the impact of their condition, the information they receive and details of the proposed treatment. 

Understanding patients' concerns and expectations

Sometimes providing the treatment is the easiest part of the process. Helping patients to understand what the treatment involves, how they should prepare, what they should expect afterwards, and the long term implications can be much harder. At such an emotional and potentially stressful time, it is important to communicate well, in clear language that patients can understand and to be patient and empathetic.

Stress can have a huge impact on patients and it affects how they remember and process information. Sometimes this can be overwhelming and patients find it difficult - often they are unable to really hear what is being said. It is important to recognise this and sensitively adapt the consultation - for example, including partners, close relatives or friends can be very helpful. 

People tend to have similar concerns, and it’s not difficult to preempt the basic practical questions that patients may have. However, everyone is different with different backgrounds, home circumstances and priorities and you have to carefully navigate this to identify factors that influence the decisions or choices that people make.

In most cases, the people I see have obvious concerns that can be addressed with some form of surgical or non-surgical treatment. It is important to understand why they want this change and establish that any proposed treatment has to be their decision, for their benefit. It is important to be realistic about what improvements can be achieved, and honest about what impact this may have on their life. 

Surgical procedures to change an aspect of someone’s appearance will not necessarily change how someone feels about themselves, or enable them to find a partner or a job and it is really important to explain this. Fortunately, most patients do experience improved confidence and self-esteem and improvement in physical symptoms as a result of treatment, but this can never be guaranteed.

Empathy and support for patients

Empathy and understanding are really important. We can never really appreciate what people see when they look in the mirror, and sometimes their perception of how they look is quite different to reality. 

It is important to try and understand what the person is going through and avoid appearing to be dismissive or playing-down their concerns. In some cases, surgery is not the answer and this can be difficult for patients to accept. 

We work with a team of nurses and psychologists to provide as much support as we can to patients, helping them to explore how they feel about themselves, their understanding of what treatment can achieve and importantly, how they would deal with a result that didn’t match their expectations. 

I often arrange for patients to meet a psychologist prior to making any decision about surgery to ensure that they have the opportunity to discuss their motivations and expectations of any proposed treatment.

Everyone is different and concerns about appearance can cause anything from a low-level of background stress that people do not even recognise to profound stress that impacts every aspect of their life. 

Non-invasive treatments for stress-related conditions

Emsella is a great example of a treatment that can have a huge impact on the daily stress experienced by thousands of women and men every day: urinary incontinence. Constantly having to worry about incontinence or being ‘caught short’ and planning all your daily activities around whether a toilet is near at hand is very debilitating.

This simple, non-invasive treatment for incontinence can give patients a new lease of life. It can also be effective in treating erectile dysfunction, which is a very stressful condition for many men.

Women's health and menopause management at Profile Aesthetic

We are dedicated to women’s health at Profile Aesthetic and in response to huge demand from our patients, we are looking forward to launching a new service for menopause management in the coming months. 

This will be of immense benefit to patients who rarely have access to medical specialists and the latest evidence-based treatments. In combination with Emsella and our surgical procedures, this will be a huge step forward in the treatment of the symptoms of the menopause for many women who are poorly served throughout the UK at present.

MyEllevate: the new minimally invasive necklift procedure at Profile Aesthetic

We also offer a new, minimally invasive necklift procedure called MyEllevate which is a real game-changer in neck contouring with minimal downtime and quick recovery. With the massive increase in use of videoconferencing since the COVID-19 pandemic, we regularly see patients who have concerns about their "Zoom face" or "Tech-neck" and are unhappy with their appearance on camera. What may seem to others to be a trivial concern can have a huge impact on confidence and self-esteem and a simple procedure can be instrumental in restoring someone's self-worth.

Innovative Treatments for Enhanced Results

At Profile Aesthetic, almost everything we do is new - we have an innovative approach to aesthetics that is uncommon anywhere else. All of our rejuvenation treatments are a combination of high quality products and the latest technology that compliment the skills of our Surgeons and Nurses. 

We combine surgical procedures with laser and energy devices to maximise results and speed up recovery. There are many factors that contribute to ageing, so we have invested in a range of tools and technologies that are designed scientifically to address each of these factors in combination.

The Positive Impact of Plastic Surgery

Procedures that change aspects of someone’s appearance can also reduce stress. Many people worry about having prominent ears, or scars and skin conditions and spend a great deal of time trying to hide these things, worrying that people may see them. This constant worry is very debilitating for people and impacts how they function in day-to-day life.  

Most patients are delighted with the results of surgery and find that they have the confidence to do things that they previously would avoid. A common complaint is having limited clothing choices, and just by improving this seemingly simple thing can have an enormous impact on how people feel about themselves and give a real boost to self-confidence. 

I have a patient who, following surgery, gained the confidence to take his daughter swimming (which he would never do before) and so the impact on both his and his daughter’s quality of life was amazing.

I also treat patients who have concerns about more intimate parts of their body. This can be very stressful and can impact clothing choices, the ability to do certain sports, and can have an effect on their sex life and ability to form lasting relationships. 

Many people are embarrassed to talk about such things - despite their importance, as there is so much taboo and embarrassment around intimate health. I encourage patients to speak openly about their concerns, knowing that there will be no judgement about how they feel or look when they come to the clinic.

If you have been impacted by anything mentioned in this article, please get in touch with our team for more information or for a consultation.

Whether we are part of your journey, or the whole of your journey, Profile Aesthetic is the partner for your new look. Update your profile.

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