Essay on Plastic SurgeryThe psychological effects of plastic surgery in Kuwait
The development of plastic surgery in recent years has opened larger opportunities for health care professionals to offer a wide range of services to its customers, while the growing popularity and high demand on the services of plastic surgeons stimulated the rapid development of this field of medicine worldwide. In fact, nowadays, plastic surgery becomes accessible to a larger number of people and, instead of the elitist surgery available to only a limited number of people, plastic surgery become accessible to large number of patients. In this respect, it is necessary to underline that the plastic surgery progresses not only technologically but also geographically. This means that in recent years plastic surgery became available to people living in developing countries, where this field of medicine was traditionally underdeveloped, while developed countries were centers of the world plastic surgery. Even though the contemporary plastic surgery is still a very sophisticated and complicated field of medicine, it has started to spread worldwide at the unprecedented pace. To put it more precisely, along with recognized and highly respectable clinics in the US, Europe and many other developed countries, plastic surgeons operate successfully in developing countries, such as Kuwait.
At the same time, it should be pointed out that the development of plastic surgery is accompanied by certain problems, especially in developing countries like Kuwait. In fact, plastic surgery was traditionally the field where it was difficult to define the extent to which the surgery is necessary for patients. As the matter of fact, the plastic surgery became extremely commercialized that naturally raises a number of ethical issues concerning the work of health care professionals employed in plastic surgery. It is obvious that the effects of plastic surgery are often quite difficult to predict since the reaction of a patient may vary dramatically and I, as a professional psychologists, who worked a lot with patients of plastic surgeons as well as with patients who were on their way to plastic surgery, can affirm that the effects of plastic surgery do not always meet the expectations of patients and, what is more important, it can produce a profound psychological impact on the state of a patient, which is not always positive. In this regard, it is necessary to underline that the professionalism of a plastic surgeon becomes of a paramount importance because it is this health care professional takes the decision and it is in his/her power to consult professionally patients and, if necessary, to dissuade them from surgery. However, in the contemporary Kuwait the high professionalism of plastic surgeons may be under a question because often financial attractiveness of plastic surgery outweighs basic ethical norms any healthcare professional should follow strictly. This is why I suggest that plastic surgeons should be more responsible in their work and ideally patients willing to undergo a plastic surgery should primarily consult a psychologist and think thoroughly over the possible effects of the surgery since often to change the look is simpler than change the mentality and the self-perception of an individual.
In fact, in order to understand the effects of plastic surgery on the psychological and even physiological state of patients, it is necessary to clearly define the reasons and causes that force patients to ask for the help of plastic surgeons. Speaking about Kuwait, it should be said that plastic surgery is relatively new field in the national medicine but, in spite of this fact, it is a dynamically developing branch of the national medicine, which is considered to be very perspective and in the future its role can grow even more substantially (Gilman, 218), especially taking into consideration the progress of the medicine in Kuwait and growing professionalism of the local specialists.
Actually, the development of plastic surgery provides the local population with the opportunity to benefit from the basic services of plastic surgeons and apparently the price of the local plastic surgery services is consistently lower compared to foreign hospitals, especially compared to hospitals in well-developed countries. At the same time, the problem of qualification of plastic surgeons in Kuwait does not always meet the international standards, though it is also impossible to put under a question the professionalism of the majority of the local specialists.
In such a situation, it is quite natural that many people tend to use services of plastic surgeons since their services became more accessible to the local population, though, it is still impossible to speak about the accessibility of plastic surgery to the large masses of patients. In fact, plastic surgery still remains elitist in a way and available mainly to the upper classes of Kuwaiti society. At the same time, the growing interest of the local population to the plastic surgery is basically determined by the global trends which produce more and more significant impact on Kuwait. Actually, within the last couple of decade Kuwaiti society became more open and susceptible to changes leading to the wider implementation of changes which do not always meet the rigid norms and rules of the Islamic society. In addition, in 1990s the impact of western countries, especially the US, and western culture is steadily growing that also makes Kuwaiti people to adapt norms and standards of western societies and cultures to their own. In this regard, plastic surgery may be viewed as just a fashionable trend which is extremely popular in the West and, therefore, becomes more and more popular in Kuwait.
Basically, the patients willing to use services of plastic surgeons in Kuwait are similar to those in other countries of the world. Nowadays, the majority of patients are women who are willing to improve their look and “slow down” the process of aging. This is why they go to plastic surgeons in search of a miraculous remedy that could stop aging or that could change their appearance according to the local standards of beauty or patients’ perception of beauty. At this point, I would like to emphasize that many patients that are willing to undergo a plastic surgery have serious problems with their psychological state. For instance, as a rule, they have a low self-esteem and often they have serious psychological problems because they suffer from what they believe is a serious physical drawback. At the same time, what really makes them to ask for the help of plastic surgeon is not always determined by objective physical problems that really threaten to the health of patients or to their normal life. In my practice, I have noticed that often the problems that force patients to undergo a plastic surgery are mainly concentrated in the psychological domain but not in physiological one.
In such a situation, I have serious doubts concerning the effectiveness of plastic surgery, especially in relation to patients which are in a state of depression and which have serious psychological problems. It should be pointed out that such patients can change their mind after a series of visits to a professional psychologist. In fact, what I mean here is the fact that a professional psychologist can help a person to change his/her self-perception, increase his/her self-esteem and distinguish purely psychological problems from physiological ones. As a result, a patient can even refuse pointblank from a plastic surgery.
Unfortunately, there are not so many patients that take seriously the assistance of psychologists in regard to the plastic surgery. Instead, many patients, especially women attempt to minimize the risk of publicity and they are unwilling to share their intention to undergo a plastic surgery, especially with a stranger, even though he/she is a professional psychologist. In such a situation, there is a great risk that effects of the surgery will not meet the expectations of the patient or, what is even worse, may have negative effects on the psychological state of a patient. To put it more precisely, the decision of a patient to undergo a plastic surgery can be taken in a state of depression or under the impact of other psychological factors that are provisional or erroneous. For instance, many patients take decisions concerning the plastic surgery only because they want to meet the standards of beauty accepted in Kuwait. In this regard, it should be said that among Kuwaiti women face, especially nose reshaping, breast, and hips surgery are particularly popular as well as liposuction, but the reason is the imposed image of an ideal female beauty accepted in Kuwait, which is promoted in the local media.
Naturally, in such a situation, the effects of the plastic surgery cannot always be positive. The reason is quite obvious: the plastic surgery leads to practically irrevocable effects and results. However, the physical change of the look of a person cannot really change his/her psychological state that can deteriorate the state of a patient dramatically after the surgery. To put it more precisely, I have an experience of work with patients who were dissatisfied with the results of the plastic surgery. Paradoxically, they were dissatisfied even though the plastic surgeon fully met the demands of patients and the brave new image of a patient perfectly met the desired one. However, it is only the surgery patients realized that the physical change of their look cannot totally change their self-perception. In fact, there were cases when patients had serious problems with a spouse, for instance, and they believed that the plastic surgery can totally change their relationships. But, in case the surgery fails, the patients felt really desperate because they perceived plastic surgery as their last chance to change their life for better. As a result, they suffer from a serious depression, which is often consistently more serious than their psychological state they had prior to the surgery.
Moreover, it should be said that Kuwaiti society is quite conservative and the surrounding people, including close relatives, do not always understand and accept the decision of patients to take a plastic surgery. In such a situation, the surgery may provoke serious conflicts within the family or led to the break of relationship between friends, for instance, just because people are not morally prepared to accept a person as he/she is after the plastic surgery because of the existing biases, stereotypes, and religious and moral norms. Naturally, in such a case, the effects of the plastic surgery will also be rather negative than positive and psychological state of the patient will not improve substantially.
However, the most dangerous effects of the plastic surgery is the failure or even the error of the plastic surgeon which can have practically disastrous results for a patient. Naturally, such failures are not widely spread but still the lack of experience of some plastic surgeons leads to the risk of an error which is multiplied by the desire of some health care professionals to earn more money. In such a situation, patients feel absolutely destroyed if the surgery fails. As a rule, they have great expectations before the surgery and often view it as their last chance. Consequently, if it fails they are in the state of shock and desperation. In fact, there may be even suicidal attempts made after the failure of the plastic surgery. Obviously, such patients need a serious psychological help, but even the most skilful and professional psychologist cannot correct the error of a plastic surgeon. As a result, such patients need to carry on their life with the additional psychological burden provoked by the failure of the plastic surgery.
On the other hand, it would be a mistake to estimate that the plastic surgery have only negative effects. In stark contrast, many Kuwaiti people have enjoyed the plastic surgery and its outcomes. The plastic surgery can increase their self-esteem, change their relationships with other people for better, etc. But it is necessary to underline that patients can be really satisfied with the results of the plastic surgery when they are really prepared to it. To put it more precisely, they must take the conscious decision concerning the plastic surgery. They must understand the possible effects and outcomes of the surgery. At the same time, they should also find out whether they need to change their face or body or probably they need to change their soul and mind, their way of thinking. This is why they primarily need to take consultation of a professional psychologist and do not be ashamed to share their intensions, feelings and needs with psychologists who could help them avoid serious problems in the result of the plastic surgery.