Will that facelift cure your low self-esteem? When you recover from surgery and gaze on your new face will you feel happier and more confident? True enough, you will look younger. But, will you feel younger? If so, for how long?
A new study suggests that facelifts will do very little for your self-esteem or your overall mental health.
The Daily Mail has the story:
Dr Andrew Jacono, of the New York Center for Facial Plastic and Laser Surgery, looked at 59 women and men who had facelifts with the same surgeon in 2013.
They all completed a ten-part questionnaire to measure self-esteem before and after the operation.
Patients were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with statements such as 'I feel I am a person with worth' and 'I certainly feel useless'
They were given scores from 0 to 30, with a higher number representing better self-esteem.
The researchers said almost a third of patients – 30 per cent – had lower self-esteem after the operation. A further fifth – 22 per cent – experienced no change.
On the average the patients thought that they had erased 9 years of aging from their faces. Yet, more than half of those who underwent the procedure felt the same or worse.
One notes that 90% of the patients were women.
British physicians report similar results:
But there is some evidence the surgeries create feelings of self-loathing, anxiety and depression.
You look younger but you pay for it in misery. It doesn’t sound like a very good deal.
Unfortunately, the story says little about why this should be so. Certainly, there is more to life than youthful good looks, but there is also more to life than trying to trick people into seeing you as someone you are not.
But, ask yourself this. What if it happened that one day you decided to go out in public wearing a mask? Assume that the mask bears a resemblance to your normal face. How will your new face impact your encounters with other people?
Will you look like you are trying to hide something? Will you look like you are trying to trick other people into believing you are someone you are not?
You might very well look years younger, but your confidence and self-esteem, such as they are, have much to do with the way other people see you. Are you trying to fool other people into believing that you are much younger? At first glance, and with people you have never met, you might well succeed. But, most people eventually catch on and believe that you have been trying to put one over on them.
Other research has demonstrated the negative emotional consequences of botoxing, thus numbing your facial muscles. When your face has been stretched or numbed your ability to respond emotionally by using facial expressions is severely limited. Too often you will have a blank emotionless expression. Which is disconcerting for anyone who is looking at you or speaking to you.
Some part of human communication involves mimicry. When you are facing someone who is expressing anger or sadness or fear you will mimic his facial expression with your own. Once you do so your mind will register the emotion your interlocutor is communicating. If your face has been botoxed your ability to do this will be strictly limited. Thus, your ability to connect with other people will be constricted.
And then there is this problem: what if you exit cosmetic surgery looking like someone else? If you do not recognize yourself, other people might also have difficulty seeing you for who you are. You will, in the Chinese phrase, have lost face. And that means that you will be less identifiable in social contexts. You will lose your sense of your identity and feel depersonalized.
Everyone will tell you how great you look, but they will take a split second to know that it is really you. In that split second lies your new social alienation. It's not a good feeling.