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Motivating Factors for Seeking Cosmetic Surgery: A Synthesis of the Literature

Haas, Cynthia Figueroa PhD, APRN-BC; Champion, Angela BSN RN; Secor, Danielle BSN RN

doi: 10.1097/PSN.0b013e31818ea832

The fascination in physical beauty is becoming more and more prevalent in today's society. Beauty in American culture is defined by the media through magazines, television, and music. The perfect career, the perfect family, social status, and high self-esteem all revolve around having an impeccable figure. Research shows that 94% of the covers of women's magazines showcase a woman with a thin physique (A. R., Malkin, K., Wornian, & J. C. Chrisler, 1999). Therefore, it is not surprising that year after year, millions of people elect for cosmetic surgery. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery (2006), approximately 11.7 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed and Americans spent $13.2 billion on these procedures. This is a 457% increase since 1997. As the demand for elective cosmetic surgery continues to rise, it is important for healthcare employees to recognize the motive behind the decision to seek cosmetic surgery. The purpose of this literature review project was to ascertain those factors that influence or motivate patients to seek cosmetic surgery. This project investigated physical, psychiatric, and psychosocial factors associated with individuals who undergo elective cosmetic surgery. It has been shown that the motivation for cosmetic surgery is based on a combination of psychological and emotional factors. Researchers surmise that body image, teasing history, and self-esteem were associated with motivational factors for those patients who elected to seek cosmetic surgery (T. Soest, I. L. Kvalem, K. C. Skolleborg, & H. E. Roald, 2006). In addition, the researchers concluded that body dysmorphic disorder, education, and culture are also predicting factors in the decision to have cosmetic surgery.

Cynthia Figueroa Haas, PhD, APRN-BC, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Adult and Elderly Nursing, University of Florida College of Nursing.

Angela Champion, BSN, RN, University of Florida College of Nursing.

Danielle Secor, BSN, RN, University of Florida College of Nursing.

Address correspondence to Cynthia Figueroa Haas, PhD, APRN-BC, Department of Adult and Elderly Nursing, University of Florida College of Nursing, PO Box 100187, Gainesville, FL 32610 (e-mail:

Copyright © 2008 by American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses