Do cosmetic surgeons exaggerate effects of facelifts?

Modern society teaches us that youth and beauty are everything. We are bombarded with images of young, good-looking people that are successful and happy in movies, television and advertising. Some people grow dissatisfied with their appearance and go to a cosmetic surgeon. The doctor may convince the patient that a facelift or other procedure will restore both his or her youth — or at least the appearance of youth — as well as make him her more attractive. Thus, supposedly, leading to happiness.

It turns out that a facelift may not be the life-changing operation that some claim it to be. In fact, it may only take a few years off your face and not improve your attractiveness to potential dating partners at all.

A study published in the latest issue of the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery suggests that procedures like facelifts and eyelid lifts have little impact on the patient’s perceived age and attractiveness. Researchers had a group of 50 adults examined before-and-after photos of 49 people who had undergone these procedures. The volunteers guessed the subjects’ ages and evaluated their physical attractiveness on a scale from one to 10.

On average, the perceived age of the subjects went down about three years after their surgery. But their attractiveness ratings did not go up. The researchers theorized that looking younger actually hurt the subjects’ ratings because they were being compared with people of that actual age.

So when a plastic surgeon makes grandiose promises about a facelift or other cosmetic procedure, be cautious. Ignoring the reasons for the desired change in appearance, which could include depression or other mental condition, could even be a form of medical malpractice. This failure to diagnose could delay treatment or even make the condition worse.

Source: ABC News, “Plastic Surgery Boosts Youthfulness, Not Attractiveness,” Katie Moisse, Aug. 1, 2013


Failure to Diagnose

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