The aim of this study was to survey first-time patients seeking cosmetic surgery and examine what role “reality TV” played in their perception of the risks and benefits of surgery and their overall decision-making process.
Information on demographics, television viewing patterns, and patients' self-assessed plastic surgery knowledge was collected from 42 patients. They were asked how similar they believed the shows were to real life and what degree of influence the shows had on their decision to pursue cosmetic surgery. Patients were then divided into groups by program viewing intensity.
Fifty-seven percent of patients were “high-intensity” viewers of plastic surgery reality television shows. When compared with low-intensity viewers, high-intensity viewers believed themselves to be more knowledgeable about plastic surgery (p < 0.05) and believed the shows were more similar to real life (p < 0.05). Overall, four of five patients reported that television influenced them to pursue a cosmetic surgery procedure, with nearly one-third feeling “very much” or “moderately” influenced.
Plastic surgery reality television plays a significant role in cosmetic surgery patient perceptions and decision making. Patients who regularly watched one or more reality television show reported a greater influence from television and media to pursue cosmetic surgery, felt more knowledgeable about cosmetic surgery in general, and felt that plastic surgery reality television was more similar to real life than did low-intensity viewers.