With so many cosmetic surgery horror stories in the news, why is it on the rise?

While most of us rely on a healthy diet, exercise and grooming regime to make the most of our appearance, an ever increasing number of women are turning to cosmetic surgery to fix their body hang-ups. New figures published by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons reveal its members carried out 38,771 procedures on women in 2011 – an increase of 5.8 per cent on the previous year – with breast augmentation by far the most popular operation. And these figures don’t include any of the non-surgical “lunchtime” procedures, such as Botox injections or dermal fillers that have flooded the “beauty” market in recent years.

Description: Quick fixes aren’t always the solution

Quick fixes aren’t always the solution

Cosmetic surgery has never been more accessible or acceptable than it is right now – even 42 per cent of H&F readers admitted they’d be tempted to try liposuction in the recent H&F body survey. But why are so many women are resorting to surgery to correct their perceived imperfections, when the associated physical and mental risks have never been more apparent in the wake of the PIP implants scandal and the plethora of celebrities going public with gory tales of surgery woe? Can taking the surgical route ever guarantee we’ll feel better about ourselves – or even look better?

The problem is we now live in a consumable, quick-fix society, so when some people perceive their looks are having a negative effect on their life, they believe surgery offers the perfect solution to dealing with their problems and finding happiness. But it’s not always the case, explains counselor and hypnotherapist. Susan Leigh (lifestyletherapy.net). I’ve had many clients come to me for counseling post-surgery once they’ve realized that it hasn’t helped them feel better about themselves or improve their life in the way they thought it would. We then have to work together on finding out what the real issues are. If you go into having cosmetic surgery thinking it’s going to get you a new man, a new job and solve all of your problems, you could be very disappointed.

This isn’t to say having cosmetic surgery doesn’t dramatically help to boost self-esteem in some people, or make a huge positive impact on their lives in the right circumstances, adds Leigh. But it’s important to keep in mind that trying to improve your looks through surgery won’t necessarily address any underlying emotional issues you might already have, nor will it make you feel better in the long run.

“Even if you feel you’re disadvantaged by your looks, or that they’re holding you back, you should try not to let your appearance define who you are or dictate your sense of self-worth,” says Leigh. “Leading a more positive lifestyle and working on other areas of your life – whether that’s getting better educated improving your relationships or developing a hobby – can help you project a more positive persona and add just as much, if not more, value to how you feel about yourself as going under the surgeon’s knife.”

Description: 14,500 women had breast surgery in 2011

14,500 women had breast surgery in 2011

What’s the alternative?

Considering surgery? Think again, with these suggestions from Leigh:

Think about why you’re fixating on a body part. Is it a sign of a deeper problem? If everything was going well, would you still view it so negatively?

Ask yourself on a scale of one to 10, how good is your life right now? What do you need to do to up your score?

If you’d like weight-loss surgery, ask yourself why you need it. Is your lack of exercise or comfort eating a symptom of depression that needs addressing?

Remember, cosmetic surgery is a major hospital procedure. Just because it includes the world ‘cosmetic’, don’t ignore everything that it entails.

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