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Female College Students and Cosmetic Surgery: An Investigation of Experiences, Attitudes, and Body Image

Sarwer, David B. Ph.D.; Cash, Thomas F. Ph.D.; Magee, Leanne B.A.; Williams, Emily Fleming Psy.D.; Thompson, J Kevin Ph.D.; Roehrig, Megan M.A.; Tantleff-Dunn, Stacey Ph.D.; Agliata, Allison Kanter M.S.; Wilfley, Denise E. Ph.D.; Amidon, Amy D. M.A.; Anderson, Drew A. Ph.D.; Romanofski, Michelle M.S.W.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: March 2005 - Volume 115 - Issue 3 - p 931-938
doi: 10.1097/01.PRS.0000153204.37065.D3

This large, multisite study investigated female college students’ experiences with and attitudes about cosmetic surgery. The study also assessed the relationship between several aspects of body image, including appearance satisfaction and investment and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, and interest in cosmetic surgery. Thirty (5 percent) of the 559 women surveyed reported that they had undergone cosmetic surgery. Two thirds of respondents reported knowing someone who had received cosmetic surgery, and approximately one third indicated that a family member had undergone surgery. Overall, participants held relatively favorable attitudes about surgery. Regression analysis suggested that a greater psychological investment in physical appearance and greater internalization of mass media images of beauty predicted more favorable attitudes toward cosmetic surgery. Fourteen women (2.5 percent) screened positive for body dysmorphic disorder based on the nature and severity of their self-reported body-image concerns. Results of this study provide new information on young women’s experiences and attitudes about cosmetic surgery and how these attitudes relate to body image.

Philadelphia, Pa.; Norfolk, Va.; St. Petersburg and Orlando, Fla.; San Diego, Calif.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Albany, N.Y.

From the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Old Dominion University; University of South Florida; University of Central Florida; San Diego State University; Washington University St. Louis; and University of Albany–SUNY.

Received for publication June 24, 2003; revised March 1, 2004.

David B. Sarwer, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Edwin and Fannie Gray Hall Center for Human Appearance, 10 Penn Tower, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19104,

©2005American Society of Plastic Surgeons