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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2002 Jan;109(1):9-17.

After plastic surgery: adolescent-reported appearance ratings and appearance-related burdens in patient and general population groups.

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  • 1Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Medical Ethics, Erasmus University Rotterdam, University Hospital Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


The aim of this study was to determine the effects of appearance-related surgery on psychosocial functioning during adolescence. To this end, changes in bodily attitudes and appearance-related burdens in adolescents undergoing corrective (for aesthetic deformities) and reconstructive (for congenital or acquired deformities) surgery were compared with those in a general population sample.A group of 184 adolescent plastic surgery patients (corrective, n = 100; reconstructive, n = 84), and a comparison group of 83 adolescents at random selected from three municipalities (corrective, n = 67; reconstructive, n = 16), aged 12 to 22 years, were studied at two time points with a 6-month interval. The plastic surgical patients were studied presurgically and postsurgically. Using fully structured telephone interviews and postal questionnaires, adolescents' ratings of their appearance, bodily satisfaction and attitudes, and appearance-related burdens were obtained. All patients reported a significant decrease in burdens after surgery compared with the comparison group, indicating a much more prominent improvement in the patient sample compared with the developmental changes that may be expected to occur in adolescence. The corrective patient group reported least burdens after the operation. More specifically, the "breasts" group benefited most from the operation, indicating that breast corrections are rewarding interventions. The findings of this study imply that adolescents can be regarded as good candidates for plastic surgery. They gain bodily satisfaction, and they are relieved of many appearance-related burdens. Physical, social, and psychological burdens related to appearance satisfaction improve considerably in both corrective and reconstructive adolescent patients.

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