The global cosmetic surgery market has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years—in 2021, it was valued at $67.3 billion, and projections suggest it will reach a staggering $201 billion by 2031, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.6 percent from 2022 to 2031. We can largely attribute this exponential growth to society’s increasing desire for enhanced aesthetic value and the evolving beauty standards of our time. As societal expectations of beauty continue to advance rapidly, people seek cosmetic surgical procedures to keep up with these trends.
However, amid this booming industry, I’ve realized that many patients harbor unrealistic expectations about these procedures. Some believe cosmetic surgery will grant them perfect symmetry, entail zero risks, or guarantee a painless recovery. These misconceptions often lead to dissatisfaction and, in some cases, worsen underlying psychological issues. This has prompted me to recognize the pivotal role we, as cosmetic surgeons, play in nurturing our patients’ mental health and self-awareness, a role that goes hand in hand with our surgical expertise.
One crucial aspect of this perspective shift is the importance of establishing empathetic and open lines of communication with our patients. Personally, I prefer to ask open-ended questions that encourage patients to share their thoughts and feelings openly. This approach means I can gain a profound understanding of their motivations for seeking cosmetic procedures, enabling me to provide care that is tailored to their unique needs and aspirations.
The next pivotal step in safeguarding patient well-being is via the preoperative evaluation. Contrary to popular belief, this assessment isn’t limited to physical suitability; it extends to evaluating the patient’s psychological readiness. I rely on standardized questionnaires and consultations with mental health professionals to ensure patients are well-equipped. These tools will help me identify potential red flags, including conditions such as body dysmorphic disorder, anxiety, depression, unresolved trauma, major life changes, or a history of multiple previous surgeries.
When I encounter patients whose motivations or expectations may be unrealistic or potentially harmful, I engage in constructive dialogues with them; after all, 100 percent transparency is the cornerstone of nurturing patient well-being in cosmetic surgery. These conversations revolve around exploring alternative options that have their overall well-being at heart. My aim is to ensure that they are well-informed and that their decisions are in their best interests.
As a cosmetic surgeon, I’m deeply committed to prioritizing my patients’ mental health and self-awareness. Unrealistic expectations can lead to dissatisfaction and exacerbate underlying psychological issues, so my approach is always to be as holistic as possible. By focusing on open communication, conducting thorough preoperative evaluations, and championing a culture of transparency, I believe we, as cosmetic surgeons in whatever specialization, can make a significant contribution to our patients’ well-being.
Ultimately, this rounded approach to cosmetic surgery not only enhances physical appearance but also guarantees mental health is taken into account. The idea is that patients embark on a truly transformative journey toward well-being under our care.
Bilge Gregory is a cosmetic surgeon.