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Topics > Healthy Outlook > Cosmetic Surgery Can Boost Self-Image

Cosmetic Surgery Can Boost Self-Image

Published by Contra Costa Times
Posted on Fri., Aug. 17, 2007

By Dr. Shahin Javaheri

PLASTIC SURGERY was once reserved for the rich and famous, but is now more affordable and safe. All surgery has risks, but the benefits can sometimes far outweigh the potential problems.

I have seen plastic surgery dramatically improve people's lives, physically and emotionally.

For example, a patient came to me with large folds of excess skin that hung from her body as a result of a 300-pound weight loss after she had weight-reduction surgery.

Despite the dramatic change in her appearance, the large skin folds lowered her self-esteem. I did a full body lift that restored her skin tightness and body shape. She blossomed, became much more social and returned to school.

Plastic surgery is divided into two main categories: reconstructive and cosmetic.

Reconstructive surgery aims to correct something that doesn't look normal, such as a cleft lip or broken nose.

Cosmetic surgery tries to improve something that already looks normal, such as a facelift on a 60-year-old or breast implants to increase a woman's cup size.

Common cosmetic surgeries include:

  1. breast augmentations or reductions (to help back problems)
  2. liposuction (removal of fat cells from areas such as the buttocks)
  3. eye tucks (to remove bags from under or over the eyes)
  4. facelifts (to remove double chins or jowls)
  5. rhinoplasty (nose jobs)

Breast augmentation has increased by 24 percent since January 2000 to a total of 264,041 procedures in 2004.

In the past, silicone breast implants were taken off the market for safety concerns. But careful studies have shown both saline and silicone breast implants to be safe. The silicone gel implant may require a larger incision than the saline implant.

Some people view breast augmentation and other cosmetic surgeries as negative symbols of our society's emphasis on superficial beauty.

But my experience is that in many cases cosmetic surgeries can give both women and men more self-confidence, and help them fulfill their social, athletic and career potentials.

Like all surgeries, plastic surgery has risks. People should not have plastic surgery if:

  • They are recovering from a heart attack, severe infection or other serious illness
  • They have infectious hepatitis or active HIV infection with systemic manifestations
  • They have cancer that might spread
  • They have blood clotting disorders
  • The severely overweight also should not undergo liposuction

Plastic surgery doesn't fix everything. Some people worry obsessively about a minor defect (body dysmorphic disorder), and undergo multiple cosmetic surgeries, but are never satisfied.

If you're thinking about plastic surgery, you should:

Go to on the Internet to start. This is the Web site by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Find a plastic surgeon who specializes in the procedure you want.

A patient recommendation can be helpful, but also be sure the doctor is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties for plastic surgery. You must have confidence in and communicate well with your doctor. Communicating your thoughts is an extremely important step in achieving the results which you are seeking.

If part of your body embarrasses you to the point that it limits your activities, consider plastic surgery as a way to open your horizons.

Javaheri is a plastic surgeon who has private practices in Greenbrae and Berkeley, and is the chief of plastic surgery at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center.

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