The stigma around plastic surgery seems to be fading, but most cosmetic surgery patients will tell you that they still caught some flak from friends or loved ones about their procedure. There is practically always a naysayer. A co-worker with a judgmental look, a friend who just doesn’t get it, or — worst of all — a loved one who says your choice is superficial and vain.
But for millions of people each year in the U.S., cosmetic surgery has little or nothing to do with “beauty,” and more to do with feeling normal, confident, and attractive. Let’s look at some procedures designed to restore a balanced appearance and help people improve their emotional well-being, their quality of life, and even their physical health.
The “mommy makeover” is becoming an ever-more popular way to help mothers restore their bodies after pregnancy and childbirth. It’s a combination procedure that usually includes a tummy tuck, liposuction, and breast enhancement in a single operation, treating the areas hardest hit by pregnancy and nursing.
And for many moms, it’s about so much more than looking fantastic.
“I needed it for myself,” says Miriam, a mommy makeover patient of Dr. Sean Bidic. The plastic surgeon’s practice in South New Jersey features Miriam’s story on its website. She sought a mommy makeover after having 4 kids, including twins, and losing a lot of weight. “But even with all the working out that I did, I couldn’t get rid of the extra skin on my stomach…. Oh my god, it was horrible,” she says.
For her and many other patients, years of disliking her body had taken a major toll on her confidence. Many mommy makeover patients who have spent years devoting themselves to their families say getting the procedure is one of the most important things they’ve ever done for their confidence. Some women have even said that they felt they were setting a good example for their kids by taking care of themselves and solving a problem rather than just complaining about it.
Body Contouring After Weight Loss
When a person loses a massive amount of weight, either through lifestyle changes or a bariatric procedure, he or she is likely to be left with a major excess of loose, stretched skin on many parts of the body. This “cosmetic” concern often prevents people from enjoying the confidence they deserve after the accomplishment of weight loss and — even worse — can be uncomfortable when rashes and other skin issues develop.
Look no further than TLC’s new show Skin Tight for moving examples of men and women whose lives are hampered by an excess of skin on their midsections, arms, legs, and elsewhere. “I’ve come so far, yet still I feel like nothing’s changed,” says Megan Boeh, who had 42 pounds of bulky extra skin after she lost a massive amount of weight. “This skin is what hinders me.”
Research has shown that getting body contouring procedures to remove that leftover skin can actually help patients maintain their weight loss in the long term. This tangible health benefit has prompted many doctors and medical groups to call for insurance companies to stop labeling these procedures as “cosmetic” and provide coverage for them.
Facial procedures such as rhinoplasty (nose surgery) and otoplasty (ear surgery) are particularly popular among younger people who get them to avoid teasing, bullying, and other social problems. In most cases, these children and teens have ears or noses that are noticeably large, crooked, or otherwise outside of norm.
The story of a 15-year-old named Renata attracted attention in 2014 when she got a free nose job made possible by a New York nonprofit that helps children with facial deformities. She had been bullied to the point that she left school and opted for home-schooling — until rhinoplasty helped her feel happy and confident again, “like I don’t have to hide myself anymore.”
When it comes to the ears, scores of parents actually initiate the surgical process for children around the age of 5 to 7. Otoplasty is a relatively simple procedure that requires about a week of downtime, and that parents say can prevent their children from a possible lifetime of teasing. Adults can also get the procedure, and many who do say they wish they had gotten it when they were young.