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Does Cosmetic Surgery Change Your Personal Identity?

Does cosmetic surgery change your personal identity?

It would require an extreme amount of surgery to render yourself an entirely new physical appearance, but what are the impacts of such surgeries to your identity psychologically?

// Choosing to have surgery

Starting from the outset, the decision to have cosmetic procedures and surgeries is driven by the feature or body part that we feel uncomfortable with due to its appearance. Whether it’s your nose, your ears, your boobs, or the mole on your face, it has unquestionably caused a level of discomfort because of its shape, size, location, or perhaps all of the above, for you to reach the point of deciding to commit to long-term change and the medical implications of surgery.

For the majority of us, we don’t elect to make such permanent alterations lightly. Years of frustration or sadness spent analysing the “should we, shouldn’t we, and how much does it really bother us”, eventually leads us to the point of opting to go ‘under the knife’.

Whilst our motive perhaps begins with our unhappiness surrounding the physical feature itself, it is the emotional impact it has had on a person which ultimately becomes the main driver behind the decision eventually made. Therefore, one can assume that with this physical alteration also comes physiological change. And with a successful outcome, these should be for the positive.


Confidence is often cited as one of the biggest reasons people choose to alter physical appearance. Some individuals may have been plagued by their concerns and insecurities around the feature in question from as early as childhood.

There is no debate that disliking a part of yourself is mentally damaging. It results in negative inner dialogue, including feelings of shame and loathing, resulting in low self-esteem.

With many studies reporting up to a whopping 90% improvement in areas of self-worth, esteem and even a shift in character traits such shyness, the benefits of cosmetic procedures can be positively transformative for a person’s identity in so many ways, there is absolutely no doubt.

Yet the surgeon has been hired to make physiological change and not to change a person’s psychological identity, so what else is there to consider to ensure this remains intact?

// Clarification of personal identity

Through the journey of coaching clients on personal identity, one of the first things we explore, to discover or rediscover, is their authentic core identity. Who they are at the very root.

With any major exchange experienced in life, it is very easy to lose a sense of your identity, which is why having a handle on this is so incredibly important. Since cosmetic surgery is a self-elected process, it is fundamental that a person knows themself well and their rationale for choosing this route, before the procedure that lies ahead.

Confusion undoubtedly will unfold post-procedure. There will be stages of physical healing, questioning whether the end result is as anticipated, or even liked. Going through the motions of this can be tricky and understanding that this an ongoing process is essential whilst moving through.

There might also be feelings of loss experienced. For even something disliked is still a part of you, as a person. Uniqueness can often be driven by what you have seen as an ‘imperfection’. Keeping in mind the reason and how its impacted you previously can be a solid way of managing this.

Additionally, doing this for yourself is also a major part of ensuring personal identity is not impacted harmfully. For the sake of another such as a partner, or even to resemble someone else are sadly reasons linked to cosmetic alterations.

Being prepared for some of these feelings ahead of the surgery itself and knowing how you might react or feel, is an essential part to coming to terms with seeing the physical change that lies ahead.

Fortunately, psychological assessments are a stringent part of the medical consultant. However, some additional and dedicated soul-searching of your own is also an essential part of the process.

// Gradual enhancement

There are times where a person may be considering a multiple surgeries or procedures - I know personally, that I have questioned a few different alterations in my time.

When finally taking the decision to commit to such change, it may be tempting to go all in and to ‘get it all over and done with’. Healing and recovery can be time-consuming and might hinder your work, lifestyle and so on. Whilst this thinking is understandable, it could be wise to reconsider such a drastic approach.

It goes without saying that making multiple changes to your appearance may be a lot for a person to deal with at once. The former section of this article assesses a variety of different feelings to be expected and these in relation to making just one change. Consider the implications of these if you’re changing multiple aspects of how you look in one fell swoop!

Gradual enhancement may be the better way to go if you want to avoid a sensory overload and as a result, major confusion, or crisis of identity.

// Mental response to physical changes

What do I mean by this?

So, one thing is for sure, the physical change in your appearance is immediate. This accounts for changes during the recovery stage, followed by the eventual and final outcome of the operation itself. This may literally feel as though it’s happened to you ‘overnight’. In other words, you might be very conscious of your new [insert body part]!.. Yet mentally, you can still be playing catch up with the concept of this!

It could be as simple as momentarily forgetting your recent experience and then looking in the mirror or down at your body and being shocked by what you see! Highly likely a pleasant surprise, yet nonetheless can be a little unnerving!

There will also be habits and ways in which you accommodated your old [nose / boobs / etc] which have now changed. For example, perhaps you always dressed a certain way to cover up your concerns. Expanding your mind to this can be a little daunting at first, considering perhaps more exposed items of clothing or even, just thinking about dressing a different way in general. It’s also important to keep in mind that psychologically your style hasn’t changed, so how do you now fuse the two?

The same can be said for facial features too. As someone who has considered rhinoplasty, I know that it can pave the way for a different make-up routine or wearing your hair up more.

It’s a fun time with experimentation of new clothes and hairstyles on the horizon. Yet again this demonstrates just how much mental change can be expected with cosmetic enhancements.

// Wrapping up!

Undoubtedly it is an absolute wonder what can be done with modern medical science and at the hand of a highly skilled doctor! However, it is a big, big shift mentally and one which requires a lot of psychological preparation and should in no way, be underestimated. Even with the upmost of mental prep, there can still be emotional adjustments that lie unforeseen.

Understanding and preserving a sense of your personal identity is key before going through this. In doing so, no matter how monumental the feelings you experience post-surgery, you’ll be sure to remember why you did it and the benefit you can experience in terms of mental wellbeing.

If you’re on the brink of cosmetic enhancement, I hope you find this article helpful in giving a little more insight to your psychological preparation and protecting your unique and incredible spiritual identity.

Disclaimer: cosmetic surgeries are a big deal and whilst there are many incredibly successful stories, there are some which do not work out so favourably. This article is written from the perspective of surgery that has produced successful results and where the individual is happy with the outcome. 


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