The psychology of cosmetic surgery: a review and reconceptualization.

D B Sarwer
T A Wadden
Michael Pertschuk
L A Whitaker


This article discusses the psychology of cosmetic surgery. A review of the research on the psychological characteristics of individuals who seek cosmetic surgery yielded contradictory findings. Interview-based investigations revealed high levels of psychopathology in cosmetic surgery patients, whereas studies that used standardized measurements reported far less disturbance. It is difficult to fully resolve the discrepancy between these two sets of findings. We believe that investigating the construct of body image in cosmetic surgery patients will yield more useful findings. Thus, we propose a model of the relationship between body image dissatisfaction and cosmetic surgery and outline a research agenda based upon the model. Such research will generate information that is useful to the medical and mental health communities and, ultimately, the patients themselves.