Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


People under the knife: Psychologists confirm long-term positive effects of plastic surgery

Why people put themselves under the knife
Plastic surgery makes people happy
Psychologists from Bochum and Basel confirm long-term positive effects

In a long-term study, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Margraf, Alexander von Humboldt Professor for Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at the RUB, investigated the psychological effects of plastic surgery on approximately 550 patients in cooperation with colleagues from the University of Basel.

Patients demonstrated more enjoyment of life, satisfaction and self-esteem after their physical appearance had been surgically altered. The results of the world’s largest ever study on this issue are reported by the researchers in the journal “Clinical Psychological Science”.

The aim of the research

The researchers examined whether patients who undergo plastic surgery are systematically different from other people, what goals they set themselves before the surgery, and whether they achieve these afterwards. The researchers compared 544 first-time surgery patients with two other groups: on the one hand with 264 people who had previously wanted plastic surgery and then decided against it, and on the other hand, with around 1000 people from the general population who have never been interested in such operations. The desire for a better appearance for aesthetic reasons usually occurs in younger people with slightly above-average incomes. Women represent 87 % of all patients who opt for cosmetic surgery. Overall, there were no significant differences among the three groups studied in terms of psychological and health variables, such as mental health, life satisfaction and depressiveness.

Most patients do not expect the impossible from surgery

Using a psychological instrument, the so-called “Goal Attainment Scaling”, the researchers examined what goals the patients wanted to achieve with cosmetic surgery. Alongside open questions, ten standard goals were offered, also including two which were clearly unrealistic: “All my problems will be solved” and “I'll be a completely new person”. Only 12 % of the respondents specified these unrealistic standard goals. In the open questions, the patients answered on the whole more realistically, expressing wishes such as to “feel better”, “eliminate blemishes” and “develop more self-confidence”.

Long-term improvements in psychological variables after surgery

The psychologists tested the patients before surgery, as well as three, six and twelve months afterwards. On average, the participants claimed to have achieved their desired goal, and to be satisfied with the results in the long-term. Compared to those who had chosen not to have plastic surgery, the patients felt healthier, were less anxious, had developed more self-esteem and found the operated body feature in particular, but also their body as a whole, more attractive. No adverse effects were observed. Thus, the researchers were able to establish a high level for the average treatment success of the cosmetic surgery, also in terms of psychological characteristics.

Bibliographic record

J. Margraf, A. H. Meyer, K. L. Lavalee (2013): Well-being from the knife? Psychological effects of aesthetic surgery, Clinical Psychological Science, doi: 10.1177/2167702612471660

Further information

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Margraf, Work Unit Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Faculty of Psychology at the Ruhr Universität, 44780 Bochum, Germany, Tel. +49/234/32-23169, E-mail:

Editor: Palina Turok

Dr. Josef König | idw
Further information:

Further reports about: Psychological Science Psychology plastic surgery psychotherapy

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>