Although certain reality TV shows try to paint cosmetic surgery as a last resort option, that’s not always the message people pick up. The fact that cosmetic surgery has become so common makes it seem a bit more harmless, even when people are aware of the dangers. Everyone’s doing it, so it can’t be that dangerous, right?

Well, not exactly. While some cosmetic surgeries aren’t invasive enough to pose dire physical complications, there is always a hidden psychological danger.

Cosmetic surgery procedures are only skin-deep, and many patients aren’t fully satisfied even when the procedure was a success. That’s because dissatisfaction originates from the patient’s feelings of inadequacy that can’t be resolved through surgery.

Post-surgical happiness is only skin-deep

Although some statistics say people are happier after cosmetic surgery, those statistics (and the self-reported happiness) are just as skin-deep as the surgery itself. The truth is, people who pay thousands of dollars to go under the knife to change their appearance are engaging in a last resort to save their plummeting low self-esteem. This is often, but not always, due to impossible standards of beauty set by society through the media.

Those who aren’t trying to obtain impossible standards of beauty still pursue procedures to increase facial symmetry, narrow their nose, reshape their eyelids, and fill creases.

According to statistics reported by, 89% of surgery patients said they were “somewhat satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their surgery results. Ninety-three percent said they’d have the surgery again.

“Patients were happier with their overall appearance and reported fewer negative emotions about it in various situations up to two years later, the article states. “But they reported no significant changes in self-esteem or in symptoms of depression.”

Our current world has idealized cosmetic procedures at a big cost

On television, characters (and reality TV stars) are generally dissuaded from cosmetic surgery only when they are addicted and out of control. If someone just wants one procedure, like Botox, people object, but they don’t intervene.

Celebrities who causally share their surgical journeys with their fans contribute to the normalization of cosmetic procedures and increase the perception that these surgeries are harmless.

TV isn’t the only source idealizing cosmetic surgery. We live in a world of “selfie” culture, where many people spend hours taking the perfect selfies, and then edit them extensively with apps like Meitu. The ability to edit your images before anyone sees them makes it easier to chase the illusion of perfection. For some, perfection in the digital world isn’t enough, so they pursue that illusion through cosmetic surgery.

Not all elective surgeries are cosmetic or connected to self-image

Although cosmetic surgeries are considered elective and aren’t covered by insurance, not all elective surgeries are connected to self-image.

There are many elective surgeries that are actually a matter of being able to function in the world. Lasik, for example, is an elective procedure that restores vision to people with impaired vision (like cataracts). This procedure isn’t usually covered by insurance. However, most people rely on sight to function at work and in their daily life.

Although many functional surgeries are classified the same as cosmetic surgeries like breast augmentation and rhinoplasty, they are vastly different. Insurance companies are for-profit corporations and won’t generally cover surgical procedures if they’re not medically necessary. Unfortunately for people with poor eyesight, since they can still survive without their sight, restoration procedures aren’t covered.

Cosmetic surgery is on the rise

A recent report published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons revealed that between 2000 and 2016, cosmetic surgery procedures increased by 132%. This includes procedures like Botox, buttock augmentations, and lip procedures.

The amount of money Americans spend on cosmetic surgery is immense. Since 2000, the amount of money Americans have spent on Botox has increased by 748%. In 2014, Americans spent $2,475,908,568 on Botox. According to the same source of statistics, half of patients are repeat customers, and many become addicted to plastic surgery.

Can you love yourself unconditionally?

It’s not easy to break away from societal programming that tells us we must look a certain way in order to be loved and accepted. However, not everyone judges people based on impossible standards of beauty. Often, these ideas come from media programming, not actual experiences.

Most people don’t even notice if someone’s nose
isn’t perfectly symmetrical, or if they have creases in their skin. The truth
is, you don’t need to alter your appearance to appeal to others. If you’re
considering cosmetic surgery, consider deepening the unconditional love you
have for yourself first. When you do, you’ll experience life in a way that
doesn’t require surgery to maintain a connection in the world.