This may surprise many people, but a person's overall level of body satisfaction has little influence on whether they elect to have plastic surgery, according to a new study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
"This study shows the majority of people who want plastic surgery have a normal level of body satisfaction," said Dr. Richard D'Amico, ASPS president-elect. "We use the term 'look as good as you feel' often and it is good to know this is why the average plastic surgery patient has a cosmetic procedure. They are not, in fact, suffering from low or poor self-esteem."
The study, which involved 52,000 men and women of all ages, looked at two factors: how attractive they felt and their level of comfort in a bathing suit.
The results showed overall body satisfaction in people interested in cosmetic plastic surgery, other than liposuction, did not differ from people who were not interested. People who were interested in liposuction did report lower body satisfaction than other individuals.
This was true for both men and women, even when statistically controlling for differences in body mass index between the groups. People with a higher BMI and those who felt they were too heavy were more likely to express an interest in liposuction than those who were satisfied with their weight. This may indicate a belief that liposuction is for weight loss rather than body contouring.
"It is critical to remember that liposuction is not appropriate for weight loss," said D'Amico. "Liposuction is ideal for people who are at or near their ideal body weight, and have stubborn, localized deposits of fat they want removed."
The study also found 48 percent of women polled were interested in having cosmetic plastic surgery, while 23 percent said they were possibly interested. In addition, 23 percent of men said they were interested in cosmetic plastic surgery and 17 percent were possibly interested. Older people did not have a higher desire for plastic surgery. Instead, a similar percentage reported interest across all age groups for both women and men.
"People interested in most forms of plastic surgery did not differ significantly from the general population in terms of body satisfaction," said David Frederick, who is persuing a doctorate in psychology at the University of Los Angeles and the study's co-author. "However, Americans appear to experience greater pressure to be slender than to have ideal noses, breasts and so forth, which could explain why people less satisfied with their weight were more interested in liposuction."
Nearly 11 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were performed last year, according to the ASPS. Women, who accounted for 90 percent of all cosmetic plastic surgery procedures last year, had 9.9 million procedures while men had 1.1 million procedures.