A study out of Oslo, Norway revealed that undergoing cosmetic surgery increased depression and anxiety, rather than boosting self-esteem and improving mental health problems as many might expect.
A Norwegian research team followed 12,000 students, aged 12 to 19, surveying them periodically for several years between 1992 and 2005. Of the study sample, 106 had at least one cosmetic surgery procedure; 78 women and 28 men.
They focused their research on the women, with 26.8 percent undergoing breast augmentation and 19.5 percent having breast reduction surgery. Other procedures included liposuction, ear and nose modifications.
Researchers found strong evidence that women with mental health issues were more likely to choose surgery; more had a history of psychological problems including depression and anxiety, increased instance of illicit drug use, suicide attempts and self-harm.
The surgery was found to do little to quell these issues, in fact in most cases they worsened. The co-author of the study noted that their symptoms of depression, anxiety, excessive alcohol consumption and eating disorders actually increased.
The researchers concluded that while getting plastic surgery to improve one’s appearance might seem to be a quick, efficient remedy, when life fails to improve following the change, mental health problems might worsen because of the disappointment. Their results highlight the importance of focusing on improving mental health in women dissatisfied with their appearance rather than turning to the knife.
Perhaps not coincidentally, a 2003 study published in the Annals of Plastic Surgery found that Finnish women who had cosmetic breast implants were three times more likely than the general population to commit suicide.
The findings were similar to previous studies of American women and Swedish women. Their research did not confirm a cause, but some of researchers believe that the high suicide rate was a result of the psychological makeup of the women who chose implants.
President of the National Center for Policy Research for Women & Families and a longtime critic of cosmetic breast implants, Diana Zuckerman, stated, “tripling the risk of suicide is a shocking finding — growing evidence that the ‘cure’ might be worse than the problem it is supposed to solve. We can’t just go along with the manufacturer’s assumptions that implants are great for women’s mental health.”
The bottom line may be that before making such a major life decision, it’s important to take a look at other issues, including mental health, and what may really be causing unhappiness on a deeper level.
There is an easier, much less expensive and more effective way to boost self-esteem, alleviate depression and anxiety, and even improve appearance: making positive lifestyle changes that include a healthy diet and regular exercise.
-The Alternative Daily