It Isn’t All About Looks - Believe it or Not, Plastic Surgery Has Physical Health Benefits!
I know what you are thinking. Even while writing the title of this post I was thinking the exact same thing: Our society’s long-held notion is that plastic surgery’s benefits to its patients are ultimately about helping one improve their appearance and their self-perceived imperfections, thereby enabling them to feel more secure and confident. With that being said, the phrase “plastic surgery has physical health benefits” begs the question – ‘Are breast implants really good for you?!’ And while it’s true that there are some plastic surgery procedures which are strictly performed for vanity’s sake, the mental health benefits of a procedure should never be discounted. So lest you think plastic surgery is all about looks, North Carolina-based board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Law says there are indeed tangible physical health benefits that come with certain surgical procedures that are generally thought to be purely cosmetic.
Physical Health Benefits of Breast Surgery
Believe it or not, when it comes to a woman’s breasts, surgery can, in certain cases, actually be a healthy decision by providing relief of back and neck pain and improving posture.
“Breast reduction surgery provides an enhanced sense of well-being for women with very large breasts that experience neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain from bra strap indentations, and even headaches secondary to the weight imposed by significant breast volume on the neck and upper trunk, explains Dr. Law. Patients undergoing breast reduction surgery universally experience an immediate and usually quite drastic improvement of these symptoms following their surgery, and generally come in to the office for their first post-op appointment a day or two later smiling, walking briskly, and with noticeably improved posture. This surgery is associated with very little postoperative discomfort in most patients, and is absolutely life-changing for the individuals who have it performed.”
A breast reduction can also dramatically result in enhancing a patient’s ability to engage in exercise activities. Excessive breast volume can be a significant impediment to intense aerobic exercise, notes Dr. Law, who adds that many patients find that following breast reduction surgery, and the resulting weight loss, they experience an increase in their ability to engage in a more rigorous physical fitness routine.
And while there are no direct physical health benefits to breast augmentation surgery, a natural-appearing, implant-based breast augmentation surgery can certainly enhance a patient’s everyday life and thus mental health and well-being in a very positive way.
Health Benefits of Rhinoplasty
According to Dr. Law, rhinoplasty is another surgical procedure that has the potential to improve not only the aesthetic form of one’s nose, but also the function of the treatment area.
“Many patients seeking rhinoplasty have associated obstructive breathing symptoms arising from the nasal airway and these issues can be corrected at the time of rhinoplasty surgery,” says Dr. Law. “Obstructive breathing symptoms can arise from a deviated nasal septum or from enlargement of structures within the nasal cavity called the turbinates, which have the function of helping to humidify inhaled air.”
Procedures like nasal septoplasty and/or turbinate reduction can improve a patient’s breathing dramatically, adds Dr. Law. These procedures may also increase exercise tolerance in some patients, and may considerably enhance sleep.
Health Benefits of Excess Skin Removal
When someone loses a massive amount of weight that alone can have great health advantages - but what about the remaining excess skin problems that commonly accompany significant weight loss? According to Dr. Law, such patients commonly develop rashes and even infections in deep skin folds in areas such as the lower abdomen, the inner thighs, and below the breasts. Correction of significant skin fold excess can completely eliminate these problems for most patients.
“Removal of excess skin also improves mobility and can enhance a patient’s capacity to participate in aerobic exercise,” says Dr. Law. “Increasing physical activity levels can further enhance weight loss in patients who have achieved a reduction in body mass by diet and exercise or by means of bariatric surgery.”
Male Breast Reduction Benefits for the Treatment of Gynecomastia
While there are really no direct physical health benefits to this important surgery, again, the mental health benefits in terms of increasing self-esteem are considerable, notes Dr. Law. Elimination of excess breast tissue in men can completely change the lives of the patients who have this surgery performed.
“One very important consideration in gynecomastia surgery is creating a very natural appearing outcome,” notes Dr. Law, who says incisions should be strategically placed so that the resulting scars are extremely faint and in some cases, even invisible. “I think it is absolutely critical for gynecomastia patients to end up with an outcome that does not look like a trip to the operating room. The fully recovered gynecomastia surgery patient should feel absolutely comfortable removing their shirt in public and in private.”
Health Benefits of Eyelid Surgery
While the vast majority of the patients undergoing upper blepharoplasty surgery have it performed for cosmetic purposes only, it is primarily for functionality in senior patients there to improve overall sight due to visual field obstruction.
With age and sun exposure, the skin of the upper lid gradually becomes thin and wrinkly, and conceals more and more of the upper lid crease. Eventually the skin excess may come to rest on the eyelashes, and this produces a somewhat tired or droopy appearance. Upper blepharoplasty is often performed in concert with lower blepharoplasty surgery for related aging changes in the lower lids. Structural fat grafting is an important part of eyelid area rejuvenation surgery, as the cosmetic issue in most patients is a combination of skin laxity and loss of soft tissue volume. The benefit to patients from this surgery is primarily one of restoring confidence.
As far as I’m concerned, being able to exercise with ease after a breast reduction, or finding it easier to breathe following a rhinoplasty are physical benefits of surgery that cannot and should not be discounted. In fact, in many of these cases, plastic surgery offers a double dose of benefits, not only do you look better, but you are often healthier in general as well.
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