CHICAGO— Serious health events like having a stroke or being diagnosed with cancer are, of course, hard on the physical body. However, new research from Northwestern University illustrates how challenging a serious illness can also be psychologically. Researchers report that patients with serious illnesses turn to cosmetic procedures to look healthier and feel more comfortable in social settings.
“Patients with serious illnesses show visible signs of their health problems, which makes them unhappy with themselves,” says Dr. Murad Alam, lead study author, vice president of dermatology and chief of Skin and Aesthetic Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. , in a statement. “Cosmetic procedures that improve appearance make these patients feel better and more confident at a time when they are already going through so much.”
“It’s like you don’t even recognize yourself”
Many patients with serious illnesses decide to go under the knife to various cosmetic surgeries, but this study is the first time anyone has asked these patients why. Ultimately, the study authors conclude that sick patients often seek out cosmetic procedures in an effort to feel better both mentally and physically, and to feel more comfortable in public or in settings. social. These people do not want to look sick in the eyes of strangers and their relatives. They may believe that a cosmetic procedure can help them “get back to normal” as quickly as possible.
More specifically, the patients included in this study had undergone either a caressadvanced melanoma, Prostate canceradvanced cervical cancer, advanced thyroid stage cancer, or Hodgkin’s lymphoma, among various other diseases. The majority of participants categorically cited their major medical condition (75%) or their treatment (66%) as the primary motivation for their intervention.
Other common motivations shared by patients included improving social acceptance, fighting aging, maintaining general mental well-being, mitigating the impact on job successand respond to suggestions from relatives and doctors.
“I feel like the medical treatments I went through left me a little older, a little more tired than my peers,” commented one participant, quoted as a “54-year-old woman, with breast cancer and droopy eyelids.
“After the treatment, you look at yourself in the mirror in a negative way,” adds a 34-year-old woman with breast cancer. “You have no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, nothing. My immune system was extremely weak, so I looked really pale and anemic. It’s like you don’t even recognize yourself anymore. ”
What cosmetic surgeries do patients undergo?
As for cosmetic surgeries, the patients studied underwent various cosmetic procedures, including non-invasive treatments (neurotoxin and filler injectionslasers, chemical peels, radiofrequency devices, dermabrasion and microneedling) and invasive procedures (facelift, liposuction and eyelid lift).
It should be noted that the study group for this research was small, with only 12 patients. Each participant was interviewed individually about their decision by a trained interviewer. Many mentioned that the safety of non-invasive cosmetic procedures made them more appealing. Additionally, several participants added that they would not have undergone surgery without first obtaining approval from their primary physician and loved ones.
Overall, the researchers conclude that most ill patients do not rush into cosmetic procedures without first thinking about it carefully and discussing it with their doctor. Thus, they emphasize the importance of good communication between doctor and patient. A clear line of communication is the best way to ensure the patient gets what they want with the procedure while staying safe.
“These findings can help improve conversations between physicians and patients seeking cosmetic procedures, so they have information about which procedures are safer and more useful for them,” concludes Dr. Alam.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.