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Body Image Has Little Influence on Desire for Plastic Surgery, ASPS Study Reveals

Higher BMI -- Greater Interest in Liposuction

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill., Oct. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Think only people with low self-esteem have plastic surgery? Think again. A person's overall level of body satisfaction has no influence on whether a person is interested in most forms of cosmetic plastic surgery, according to a study in October's Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery(R) (PRS), the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

"This study shows the majority of people who want plastic surgery have a normal level of body satisfaction," said Richard D'Amico, MD, 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 looked at two measures of body image and satisfaction -- self-rated attractiveness and comfort in a swimsuit. 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 (BMI) 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 Dr. 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."

Individuals who frequently monitored their appearance were more likely to report an interest in cosmetic procedures than those who paid less attention to their looks. This suggests a strong investment in one's appearance may motivate individuals to consider plastic surgery.

While men and women's interest in cosmetic plastic surgery did not generally differ based on their relationship status, an exception was seen in older women. Single and married women aged 56 to 65 were less interested in cosmetic procedures than dating or cohabitating women of the same age.

According to the study that surveyed more than 52,000 people, 48 percent of women 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.

Contrary to popular belief, 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, Candidate Ph.D., psychology, University of Los Angeles and study 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% of all cosmetic plastic surgery procedures last year, had 9.9 million procedures while men had 1.1 million procedures.

Visit for referrals to ASPS Member Surgeons and to learn more about cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. With more than 6,000 members, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 90 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

SOURCE American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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