Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Theory and Risks


Plastic surgery is a medical practice that mainly consists of reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery. It is normally done so as to either correct or restore the functions or features of the various body parts. It is important to note that the word plastic is derived from a Greek’ plastikos’ meaning to shape. Over time plastic surgeries have gone up as well as the costs involved.

Technology has also contributed to the practice as newer, and more complex surgeries are being carried out. Thompson et al., (2004), notes between 2003 and 2004, the number of plastic surgeries increased by over forty percent, according to data held by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. He also notes that plastic surgeons conducted 11.9 million worth surgeries in 2004.

Positive Effects

Improvements in body image

As per Thompson et al. (2004), human beings, especially the female gender would like to look normal through the desire of not being singled out as being peculiar was to have features which may lead others to comment negatively on them or make them feel self-conscious.

Human beings also naturally want their physical appearance to be similar to their known personalities and that they have a perfectly created body that can be admired by everyone. Plastic surgery provides them with this opportunity and gives them the opportunity to perfect their bodies as they please, thus improving their body image.

To prove this point, Sarwer (2001) states that in a recent study, it was found out that 87 percent of patients reported satisfaction following their surgery. The patients were interviewed a year after receiving cosmetic surgery. They also said that they had improvements in the body feature altered and experienced less negative body image emotions when in social situations.

Improvement in the quality-of-life

Plastic surgery enhances the individual’s quality of life in the sense that physically attractive people more often than not enjoy their life more than the less physically attractive individuals. This is because the physically attractive are seen as more social, more dominant, intelligent, and mentally stable than their counterparts.

This makes them be accorded preferential treatments and respect than the less attractive people. This is more so when it comes to marital matters as physically attractive people tend to attract more suitors than their less attractive peers. Thus, plastic surgery also enhances the chances of an individual getting a marital partner and enjoying the family bliss.

Satisfaction following their surgery

According to Sarwer (2001), when you look better, you feel better. He also states that after the surgery, the individual’s self-esteem rises, causing their productivity levels to go higher. This, in turn, makes making the person give his best to society, thus becoming a valuable member of society.

Also, satisfaction arises from being admired and praised for the perfection of the organ that the surgery was performed upon. The praises by members of the family and friends cause one to feel accepted and appreciated in the society in which he lives and gives the individual perform a mental picture that he is the best or has the best.

Provides Hope

One of the most important aspects of plastic surgery is reconstructive surgery for people who have various deformities either by natural causes or by accident. As Haiken (1997) puts it, the performance of plastic surgery gives them hope to lead normal lives and acquire functionality in the deformed body parts.

This hope is very important to these individuals since it brings meaning back to their lives and provides them with a valid reason to live. For such individuals, after meeting the required financial goals necessary for the performance of the operation, the affected body parts are eventually restored back to their original functionality.

Negative Effects

It is Expensive

Plastic surgery is an expensive affair, and that’s why most of the time, it’s only within reach for the high social status people. This high cost makes it almost impossible for the middle class and the low-class families to access these services, thus locking out those whose lives might have been transformed by the process, especially for reconstructive surgery.

There are people, however, who go to such lengths as spending even beyond their means as they try to reach for elusive perfection. According to Haiken (1997), plastic surgery might cost up to five thousand dollars or even more. Also, those who live in areas where technological advances are not so apt as to allow plastic surgeries might bear more financial constrains as they travel to faraway places to have their deformations corrected.

Physical Pain

As with any other surgical procedure, the healing period is painful. This may affect a person psychologically and cause strain and stress if the person had not been informed in advance or was misinformed, a fact supported by Sarwer (2001).

The body part might also be inflamed with high infection risks, which may lead to other health complications. However, it is good to note that most doctors will counsel a patient over the physical pain involved before consenting to carry out the surgery. Despite the pain and trauma it causes, research states that most people are normally satisfied afterward with the change caused by the surgery.

Effects on Children

Young children can find plastic surgery done on their parents or close relations very traumatic. Since their brains are not fully developed, they might not understand what happened to their parent, uncle, brother, or sister when the one who had undergone the surgery returns from the hospital. In such a situation, they might also not find words to explain to their peers what happened and maybe a source of suspicion and ridicule among their peers.

It is thus advisable to find someone who has expertise in child handling or pediatrician to explain to them what happened and that everything will be all right. However, It is also most likely that your children might not understand in detail what happened to you and might not recognize you, especially if you performed facial plastic surgery (Thompson et al. 2004). This is more applicable in cases of complete sex change.

Psychological effects

In case anything happens during the surgery and things go wrong, the desired results might end up not being achieved. In such a situation of a poor outcome in the surgery, more so for those who held unrealistic expectations or have a history of depression and anxiety. They can have psychological disorders such as stress and mood disorders.

Patients who are not satisfied with the surgery may experience depression, social isolation, family problems, adjustment problems, self-destructive behaviors, and anger against everyone and life (Greene n.d). Such patients may end up committing suicide if the situation is not handled properly. At some times, the only solution becomes to go for corrective plastic surgery.

Social Segregations

According to Haiken (1997), plastic surgery will carry with it social backlash from friends, relatives, workplace, or the community. This is due to the negative light that plastic surgery has been placed in especially by Christians who believe that God created man in a perfect manner that needs not to be changed.

Due to this, some people might not want themselves to be associated with you for fear of their names being tarnished. Also, people will be talking behind your back when they realize that you have undergone plastic surgery.

Body dysmorphic disorder

There are people who will always find fault with some of their body parts and are preoccupied with the appearance of aspects of their appearance. These are said to have body dysmorphic disorder and have a preoccupation (Haiken 1997).

People with body dysmorphic disorder repeatedly change the offending body part or parts so frequently to the point that this obsession interferes with other aspects of their life. According to research, between seven to twelve percent of the plastic surgery patients living in America have some form of body dysmorphic disorder, and they often request multiple surgical operations on the same or other body features.

Body Disorders

According to Haiken (1997), plastic surgery sometimes causes very dangerous and lasting body disorders that can time lead to death. Some of these disorders include wound commotion of overlying skin and infections. Plastic surgery can also leave permanent marks or spots on the body, some of which can be rectified by performing another plastic surgery and some which cannot be treated with any form of surgery.

During breast augmentation, there are risks of bleeding of the gel, encapsulation, and the high prospect of silicone loss in the body. Risks associated with liposuction include discoloration, bruising, depigmentation, and numbness. Facelift plastic surgery also has side effects like the damage of nerves causing an individual to have an insensible face.

Erroneous Surgery

In any surgery, there are always risks of something going wrong, and plastic surgery is not an exception. This mainly happens when patients go to quack doctors who normally charge lower rates. Also, the outcome may fall short of patient expectations. Sarwer (2001) states that research shows that of all the plastic surgeries done, almost half are corrective surgical procedures required to fix the undesirable outcome.


In conclusion, it is important to state that when people think about having plastic surgery procedures, sometimes they do not have the full information as to the implications it will have on their lives.

They tend to think only of the positive aspects like how beautiful they will look once they have healed and anticipate the improvement that their life will have when they finally have undergone through either the rhinoplasty or breast augmentation that they had been dreaming about.

However, they forget to study the negative aspects of plastic surgery and do not take into account the stigmatization, the pain, the financial stress, and all the other negative aspects that come together with it. Above all, they tend to overlook the fact that many plastic surgeries have often had undesirable outcomes.

The human body can never be perfect, and so people will always find fault with some parts of their body, and this, in the long run, may become some sorts of an addiction for some people, which will ultimately lead to financial stress as they try to perfect their body.

It is therefore very important that people learn to accept themselves just the way they are and be well educated and informed on the negative and positive aspects of plastic surgery so that they make wise decisions for as it is normally stated, ignorance, is not a tool for defense.

Cited Works

Haiken, Elizabeth. Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery. (1997) Johns Hopkins University Press.

Jim Greene, (n.d) Plastic Surgery pros and Cons- Plastic Surgery Risks, Complications.

Sarwer David B., Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. (2007), Thompson, J.K., Heinberg, L.J., Altabe, M.N, & Tantleff-Dunn, S. Extracting beauty: Theory, assessment and treatment of body image disturbance. (2004) Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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