Psychological Impact: Cosmetic Surgery Improves Quality of Life

NEW YORK, NY (May 2, 1997) — Cosmetic surgery produces a positive psychological effect, improving patients' quality of life and perceptions of well-being, according to a study presented at the 30th Anniversary Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), May 2-7 at the New York Hilton and Towers.

"The purpose of cosmetic surgery is to improve a person's psychological functioning by modifying their body image," says Gregory Borah, MD, chief of plastic surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and one of the study's authors. "This prospective study is important because it demonstrates that objective measurements of a patient's quality of life are improved after cosmetic surgery."

The study involved 105 cosmetic plastic surgery patients between the ages of 18 and 70. Four written questionnaires -- Ways of Coping, Personal Resources, Depression, and Quality of Life Index -- were used to collect the data. Subjects completed all questionnaires approximately two weeks before surgery, and again at one month and six months following surgery.

The confidential responses were collected and analyzed for statistical significance by Marlene Rankin, PhD, professor of nursing at Rutgers University, who designed and validated the study's questionnaire.

The results showed that the overall improvement between the preoperative and six-month postoperative quality of life outcomes was highly significant. Patients also had a significantly lower depression score at six months following surgery compared to their preoperative levels. In addition, their perception of their own well-being increased over time. Patients' social support and ways of coping generally were not affected by cosmetic surgery and, therefore, had little impact on the other results.

The study was supported in part by an ASAPS research grant awarded in 1995.


The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.


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