How cosmetic surgery can affect your mental health, as Katie Price issues warning

Surgeon process of blepharoplasty surgery.Apply anesthesia in eyelid
Experts warn that an increasing number of young people are getting cosmetic surgery. (Getty Images)

The cosmetic industry has seen a surge in the number of procedures Britons are getting done in recent years, with the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) describing a “boom” in cosmetic surgery in 2022.

Last year, more than 30,000 people underwent some kind of cosmetic procedure, with the most popular being breast enhancements or reductions, and liposuction. ‘Tweakments’, which are non-surgical and often temporary procedures, have also been growing in popularity around the world.

But the number of young people turning to cosmetic procedures to achieve a certain beauty standard has also been increasing, much to the worry of experts. Katie Price recently spoke against young women getting fillers and breast enhancement surgeries due to how "damaging" they are.

In an appearance on the How To Fail with Elizabeth Day podcast, Price, who has undergone numerous cosmetic procedures, said: "There's nothing worse than when these young girls now, and I will say it, in their early 20s, who are all getting fillers, all getting lips, all getting boobs.

"I'm not a hypocrite, but I didn't start doing my face until I was in my 40s. Yes, I had a boob job, but I didn't even have fillers... But people don't realise when you have surgery and stuff, you only see before and after, you don't see in between.

Katie Price has spoken out against the 'damaging' effects of cosmetic surgery on young women. (Getty Images)
Katie Price has spoken out against the 'damaging' effects of cosmetic surgery on young women. (Getty Images)

"When you've had it, the pain and the cleaning, the stitches out and the bed rest. So I would love to educate people about it. It's damaging to your body."

Price's comments come after former Love Islander Olivia Attwood opened up about getting her first aesthetic surgery at just 20 years old.

Attwood told The Times she was "fixated" on getting breast enhancement because she was dissatisfied with her C-cup breast size. But after getting large implants, she said: "I was happy for a year, then I realised they didn’t look right for my frame.

"The weight of the implants started to stretch my skin and they got lower and lower. I started to think, ‘This isn’t what I signed up for at all’."

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Olivia Attwood attends the National Television Awards 2022 at The OVO Arena Wembley on October 13, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Olivia Attwood has spoken out about how she regrets getting breast enhancement surgery at just 20 years old. (Getty Images)

The role of social media

Experts say social media is largely to blame for the huge rise in young people clamouring for cosmetic procedures to change the way they look. This has also resulted in mental health problems linked to self-esteem and body confidence.

Dr Omar Tillo, plastic surgeon and senior medical director at Creo Clinic, tells Yahoo UK that social media is linked to an increase in body dysmorphia, depression, other mental health disorders, and cosmetic surgery in younger people.

“As technology develops and people spend more time online, viewers are more and more exposed to the harmful effects of these platforms. Not only do they blur the lines of reality, where it seems impossible to live up to the world we see online, but it also promotes unhealthy comparisons.”

Not everyone who undergoes a cosmetic procedure at a young age is at risk of developing mental health issues. Dr Tillo points out that often, people who seek surgery to address a concern or problem that has been affecting their life often benefit and report improvement in their body and social confidence.

“On the other hand,” he says, “undergoing cosmetic surgery at a young age for the wrong reasons carries the risk of lower future self-esteem and body confidence.

“Peer pressure, societal standards and trends, and unrealistic beauty ideals are the wrong reasons to have cosmetic surgery and will contribute to future dissatisfaction.

“This is where a responsible and trained plastic surgeon, who prioritises mental wellbeing, is crucial in ensuring that the decision to undergo cosmetic procedures is based on individual needs and realistic expectations.”

Dr Deepa Panch, surgical and aesthetics doctor, adds: “Pressure to undergo cosmetic surgery at a young age largely stems from societal beauty standards and social media influence.

“Mental health repercussions can include body image issues, anxiety and a negative impact on self-esteem and this is reflected in the rise in cases of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) that we are seeing in society today.”

What needs to change in the cosmetic industry?

Shot of a beautiful young woman getting her face analyzed by a nurse at a beauty clinic
Experts in the cosmetic industry have called for better regulation. (Getty Images)

Many cosmetic surgeons and aestheticians believe the industry needs more effective regulation. While the UK government passed a law in October 2021 that has effectively banned cosmetic procedures being carried out on under-18s in England, Dr Panch points out, the law has not been extended elsewhere in the UK.

Last year, top cosmetic surgeon Dr Elizabeth Hawkes warned that teenagers were travelling from England to Wales to get Botox treatments to get around the regulation. She told Yahoo UK that she wants to see Wales introduce the same ban that England has.

Dr Tillo adds: “Effective regulation in the cosmetic surgery industry is imperative to safeguard the well-being and satisfaction of patients.

“Key examples include establishing age restrictions to prevent inappropriate procedures on younger individuals, ensuring rigorous standards for informed consent to guarantee patients are fully aware of the associated risks, and implementing strict qualification standards for practitioners.”

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