Cosmetic surgery is a booming industry — and with bikini season fast approaching, thousands of Australian women are turning to surgery for what they see as a confidence boost.
With more than 40,000 people undergoing cosmetic surgery in Australia each year at last count, Australians are now spending about $1 billion a year on procedures and treatments intended to make them look and feel better.
But what about those women turning to surgery for all the wrong reasons — whose desire to change their body stems from a deep-rooted psychological disorder, or who seek cosmetic renewal as a “quick fix” to find or save a relationship?
In the UK, new assessments have been introduced at some clinics to try to stop people having cosmetic surgery they may later regret. The test, consisting of 11 warning signs to help cosmetic surgeons identify prospective patients with serious body image problem, was developed by psychologists who say patients are being put at risk by firms who don’t carry out enough checks, the BBC reports.
But in Australia, no such screening exists — and some experts think that needs to change.
Surgery “may cause the recipient to fixate on their looks as their primary source of self-worth”
The CEO of national self-esteem initiative Mind Shift, Elizabeth Venzin, has penned an open letter to health minister Peter Dutton, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons president Michael Grigg and assistant health minister Fiona Nash calling for the introduction of pre-surgery psychological screening.
“Research shows that cosmetic surgery does not make a woman feel any better about themself, and in fact, may cause the recipient to fixate on their looks as their primary source of self-worth,” the letter reads. “This only damages self-esteem in the long run, because women are constantly having to fix their ‘flaws’ to live up to society’s supposed idea of what beauty is.”
David Castle, a Professor of Pyschiatry at the University of Melbourne and St Vincent’s Hospital, told Mamamia some women “absolutely” are not suitable candidates for surgery.
“If they have unrealistic expectations of the outcome, if they’re doing it for someone else- to enhance a relationship or to save a relationship – or if they have distorted dysmorphic disorder (then surgery is not appropriate),” he said. “There should be screening mandated because it’s not difficult to do and people often slip through the nets.”
Karen* told Mamamia her best friend Brianna, who underwent breast augmentation surgery last year, is still “not satisfied” following surgery — and Karen believes it was wrong of the surgeons to carry out a surgery that could never have been expected to make her feel better about herself.
“She was initially happy after the surgery but all of her body issues continue to be a problem, because she didn’t address the core reason behind why she hates how she looks,” Karen said.