How Cosmetic Procedures Can Help People Work Through Trauma

May 29, 2024

Confident woman looking at herself in the mirror

When someone goes through a traumatic life event, both physical and mental scars can remain. It can be hard to work through psychological trauma when you are reminded of the event every time you look in the mirror. To counter this, some people seek out cosmetic procedures that allow them to move forward with a fresh start.

There are countless reasons why someone might want to change their body to overcome trauma. They may feel insecure from years of bullying or hate their physical reminders of a serious car accident. All of these reasons are valid. Here are a few examples of patients using cosmetic procedures to put the past behind them so they love how they look.

Increased Self-Esteem and Confidence

People of all ages can experience low self-esteem because of how they look. Almost a third of students have been bullied because of their physical appearance, while adults can develop low self-esteem as they age or experience bodily changes.

For example, new moms often experience changes to their breasts following pregnancy. Surgery can help women heal after a healthy birth, overcome postpartum depression, or feel like themselves again after a miscarriage. Breast cancer survivors seek out cosmetic lifts or breast revisions so they feel comfortable wearing form-fitting clothing again.

Some men also seek out breast reduction if they aren’t happy with the amount of tissue they have on their chests, which could lead to low self-esteem caused by bullying or romantic rejection.

Cosmetic procedures can affect how someone navigates the world, increasing their confidence whether they are going grocery shopping, have a date scheduled, or are walking into a job interview.

Reduction of Discomfort

Many seemingly cosmetic procedures are actually performed to reduce discomfort in the patient. For example, women with large breasts often seek out reductions or implant removal so they can feel comfortable again.

One study found that “for each one-size increase in breast size score, women were 13% more likely to report the presence of upper back pain.” Large breasts can place excess weight on the chest, affecting how the spine supports the body. Breast reduction or implant removal eliminates this weight and can reduce back pain in women and make it easier to complete day-to-day activities. Cosmetic surgery can also help women overcome trauma if they were bullied in their teenage years because they developed earlier than their peers.

Another example of a cosmetic procedure to reduce discomfort is skin removal after significant weight loss. This can help patients navigate the world more easily without the excess skin.

Improved Function

Cosmetic surgery can help people restore their body’s function and mobility when they’ve experienced injuries or bodily trauma. For example, a traumatic birth, surgery, or physical abuse can change how women experience sex. Sexual discomfort can have significant psychological effects like anxiety and depression. Some women can also feel isolated after pushing their partners away because they feel uncomfortable with sex. One potential option is vaginal rejuvenation, which can change how the body looks and performs.

Restoring part of your body to what it once was can boost your confidence and help you enjoy your favorite activities, whether that involves exercise, the arts, or romantic moments with your partner.

Elimination of Reminders of Traumatic Events

Trauma often leaves physical reminders that affect the mental health of people who experience it. For example, if you have a severe burn from a car accident, you may be reminded of the crash every time you see the scar. One study found that even eight years after a traumatic event, 90% of people still experience trauma reminders, with 35.6% experiencing trauma reminders frequently.

Cosmetic procedures can eliminate these reminders, so you do not have to relive your trauma every time you look at your body.

Return to Your Previous Normal

Not only can cosmetic procedures eliminate reminders of trauma, but they can help people return to the bodies they had before the events occurred. For example, if you gained weight following an accident because you were unable to exercise, you may seek out liposuction as you complete the physical therapy process or a face and neck lift to address loose skin.

Many mothers who recently gave birth request mommy makeovers to restore their bodies. These often include tummy tucks that tighten the skin around the abdomen. Mommy makeovers can make women feel desirable again for their partners and restore their confidence in everyday life.

Greater Sense of Control

Studies show that having a sense of control over your life can reduce stress levels and support good mental health. This is because you can take action and implement solutions when faced with problems. Having a sense of control is important even in adolescence because it teaches kids coping skills when they are faced with crises.

Cosmetic surgery can give people a greater sense of control because they are taking action to improve their lives. They can control how they look and take steps toward physical improvement. Cosmetic surgery can be a lifeline at times when you don’t have a lot of control over your life, like searching for a new job or going through a divorce.

Tangible Change

Cosmetic surgery also allows you to make physical changes that reflect how you have moved on from the trauma. By removing scars from your body, you eliminate the reminders of what you have been through. You are no longer physically defined by that trauma.

These tangible changes can also help people who went through trauma achieve a sense of closure. People who experience closure feel like a traumatic experience is over and they have fully processed and moved on from it. This process can take years or even decades depending on the event.

Less Identifiability

Cosmetic surgery can change how you look so you are not reminded of your abuser. Children who experience paternal abuse might invest in cosmetic surgery so they do not look like the people who abused them as they age. People escaping domestic violence can seek out cosmetic surgery so they’re unrecognizable to their former abusers, allowing them to start new lives.

Awareness is growing about the value of cosmetic surgery following abuse. Notably, Nicki Minaj’s mother funded free cosmetic surgery for abuse victims to help them overcome their trauma.

People who experience trauma seek out cosmetic surgery for several reasons, whether they want to change their appearance, restore bodily functions, reduce discomfort, or return to how they looked before the event. Both large and small cosmetic changes can have significant impacts on patients and support their mental health in the long run.

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