Age Zero – the rise of cosmetic surgery

Cosmetic Surgery Or Psychotherapy?

Reports suggest that there is an epidemic of cosmetic treatment on women far too young to even be thinking about ageing.

When 18 year old actress Charice Pempengco (star of TV’s ‘Glee’) underwent skin tightening procedures, she shocked the Hollywood industry and clearly highlighted a disturbing and destructive new trend. It is a matter of fact that young women are undergoing dangerous and painful procedures to make themselves look younger.  Earlier this year, 23 year old Heidi Montag, (star of TV’s ‘The Hills’), had ten procedures in ten hours including a chin reduction, brow lift, liposuction and buttock augmentation. Heidi herself has described feeling trapped in her own body and feeling immense regret at having had so much cosmetic surgery.

Worryingly, cosmetic surgeons, in both the US and in the UK are willingly performing cosmetic procedures without attempting to understand or question the psychological reasons behind the need for this changing or ‘improving’ oneself.

Megan Fox (aged 24, star of Transformers) is believed to have undergone various procedures including a boob job, a nose job and cheek fillers. She is however, perhaps a surprising advocate for thinking beyond the physical and looking a little deeper. She says, ‘I would encourage anyone [who is thinking about cosmetic surgery] to first speak with a therapist, to try and figure out where this want comes from…the surgery is not going to alleviate that insecurity for you.’ (Grazia, 2nd August 2010).

We at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice in Harley Street, London, would similarly encourage anyone thinking about any cosmetic treatment to think a little deeper about what else might be going on. Many reasons could underlie the need for such procedures including; fear of losing one’s identity or visibility, a sense of emptiness or perhaps existential concerns about mortality. We feel it is important to address these concerns and to thereby begin to accept ourselves through all our stages of life. Understanding and accepting oneself including our flaws, both external and internal, can lead to security and a sense of feeling grounded. Our own intrinsic sense of self, our identity and our self worth goes far deeper than our external physical self.