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The role of the psychologist in aesthetic medicine

The role of the psychologist in aesthetic medicine

Psychology Hour

Dr. Leli

The role of the psychologist in aesthetic medicine

In recent years, the idea of the figure of the psychologist has been consolidated along with that of the surgeon and the aesthetic doctor. Psychological intervention for patients using surgery and cosmetic medicine is important, both in the selection of patients and in the results perceived by the patient.

Several studies have shown that cosmetic interventions, even minor ones, in case of significant psychological disorders can change quite a lot the already precarious mental balance of the person. Adequate patient preparation for the change involved in the intervention and the expectations associated with it becomes necessary to extend the benefits to the patient’s quality of life. The reasons that determine a person to resort to aesthetic medicine come from the desire to obtain a model as close as possible to perfection. Television, cinema, magazines and the internet cooperate to form this unattainable model of beauty, triggering a feeling of inadequacy and inferiority in women and men who do not fit the model. These feelings are amplified during periods of intense stress or depression, lowering the self-esteem of these people.

The first step in aesthetic psychology is the preliminary psychological evaluation. This assessment focuses on identifying the person’s mental condition when requesting cosmetic surgery, which is the perception he has about his body, how he thinks his life can change after the operation. This information is essential to understand whether the decision to perform surgery depends on a state of psychological suffering, a desire for change, the search for an ideal model of beauty or reasons for real bodily imperfection. It must also be borne in mind that surgery cannot resolve a psychological discomfort caused by dysfunctional beliefs. For this reason, the intervention of the psychologist is useful to verify the real motivation that determines a person to make such a request. Patients with realistic expectations regarding cosmetic surgery are those who achieve optimal results in improving the quality of life, while those who are thinking of improving their existential dissatisfaction or lack of social relationship with such an intervention may change their mental state negatively, even aggravating it. After a careful analysis of the reasons, psychological counseling continues with the exploration of the emotional experience related to the operation. In particular, the fears or anxieties related to the intervention itself, but also the fears related to the new body image are investigated. Very often these fears fuel miraculous expectations, especially if the patient expects to completely change his physical appearance. The support of the psychologist, also for the patient in controlling his fear before the operation, helps him to better support the postoperative discomfort, but also to accept his new aspect more easily. Thus, psychological counseling assumes a more crucial role than ever, helping the patient to increase self-confidence and changes in their own body. Psychological counseling ends when the patient has reached a new awareness of himself and his image that he is going to obtain after the intervention.

In today’s society, what is seen on the outside plays a key role in every aspect of daily life, the phenomenon is inevitable, given the growing interest of newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites that focus on this topic. Therefore, given the growing importance given to the social projection of body image, the need to show the best image has increased more and more. Mental representation has an inevitable implication on relational, social, affective and emotional aspects. A perception of a positive body image guarantees greater security in relationships and social activities. On the other hand, the perception of a negative and more insecure body image leads to difficulties in social relationships and low self-esteem.

The role of the psychologist in aesthetic medicine

However, it must be emphasized that the line between health and beauty is very thin, any change in the body triggers psychological repercussions, it is necessary to mentally accept the changes. On the other hand, some psychological profiles have contraindications for cosmetic interventions. I am referring to people in a situation of contingent crisis (divorce, mourning, dismissal) who tend to solve the negative consequences of the situations they go through and as a result have wrong expectations. In a context where body image is becoming of primary importance, the use of aesthetic interventions becomes useful in terms of psychological acceptance and in any of the situations mentioned above, an integrated approach between aesthetic medicine and psychology is recommended, in order to adequately assess expectations, motivations and any risk factors.