As a plastic surgeon, I believe my goal is to make people feel more confident in their appearance. Many people view plastic surgeons as purveyors of beauty for the vanity challenged, and while my profession in part bears the burden of fault, it is my belief that nothing could be further from the truth. Plastic surgeons possess the skills, talent and tools to make people more physically beautiful, but this may not help them feel more confident or improve their self-esteem.
And there is no benefit to looking more beautiful if one doesn’t feel more beautiful.
Self-esteem is the essential ingredient I can provide in my practice. People with a lot of confidence exude it in their expression, posture, and aura. I recently treated a high school senior who wanted a nose job, (rhinoplasty). Ryan was deeply bothered by his nose but afraid to tell his single, hard-working mom that he wanted to do something about it. They were a family of modest means and his mother was working long hours to support her only son who was clearly her pride and joy. He came into my office with his hands in his pockets and a slouch that allowed his shaggy hair to cover his acne-ridden face. His blue jeans hung off his hips and his shoelaces trailed behind his dragging feet.
Ryan was ashamed to tell his mom that he wanted surgery and was sure she wouldn’t be able to afford it. But his eyes lit up when I showed him, via computer simulation, what he could look like with a different nose. His mom recognized the desire in her son and together we put a plan in place to make his rhinoplasty a reality. The surgery went well and soon afterward an email came across my desk from Ryan’s mom that she sent to my patient coordinator, Katie. Here’s part of that message:
“Ryan looks wonderful and I can see the self-confidence growing every day. This was the best decision we could have made. I am so glad I found a way, because when Ryan looked at himself in the mirror the day the splint was taken off, there is no price that could be put on the expression on his face. This procedure has already changed Ryan’s life for the better, and in turn has changed mine, too. Thank you so very much from the bottom of our hearts.”
If you inherited the characteristics of what nature defines as physical beauty, they are only as beneficial as far as they are delivered. The impression created is more important in terms of gaining an advantage in all personal and professional relationships. And the secret to enhancing that impression boils down to one word: confidence.
Confidence is the key ingredient to appearing attractive. It is what allows you to feel beautiful in a brand-new dress or a new suit. When you show up at an event you want to feel good. If the morning of the event you feel thick and bloated, and put yourself down for it, it doesn’t matter how gorgeous the new dress is. If you don’t feel confident, the dress alone isn’t going to make a great impression. In science, we call that confidence self-esteem, and everything I’ve learned and witnessed convinces me that self-esteem is the essential ingredient to appearing more attractive and ultimately achieving greater success and satisfaction in life.
Those who think they are more attractive believe they deserve a more attractive mate and will not settle for less. The authors of a 2008 study wanted to determine the importance of objective physical attractiveness and compared it to the impact of one’s own perception of attractiveness (Montoya, 2008).
They found that the level of attractiveness people perceive of themselves, rooted in their self-esteem, is a highly significant factor in whom they choose to date and pursue. If we think we’re attractive, then we’re much less likely to fear rejection from a highly attractive person.
Not long ago, one of my patients exclaimed during a consultation, “Doctor, please help me. Everyone is staring at this horrible mark on my face. It’s destroying me–everyone sees it!” She looked at me as if I could easily see her damaging mark. I could not help but notice the jagged, three-inch scar running vertically along her right cheek, but rather than point it out I asked, “Which mark are you referring to?” She then pointed to a tiny, barely visible red spider vein on the left side of her forehead and said, “The red blemish, can’t you see it? It makes me look so ugly and it’s driving me crazy.” She was not at all concerned with the rather large scar carved into her cheek, which I later learned was caused by an injury when she was two years old. She had adapted to it years ago and it did not affect her perception of her beauty. I deleted the red dot on her forehead and she walked out my door feeling prettier and walking tall.
As a plastic surgeon, I have a very special responsibility to my patients to not only help them achieve the look they desire and love, but to reveal the confidence that has been deeply hidden for so long, and for that I am truly grateful. If you have a question for Dr. Steven Dayan, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Question for Dr. Dayan”