Plastic surgery has, in recent years, become a popular choice among men and women who are seeking change in their physical appearance.

Safer and more affordable procedures coupled with reality television that promotes the permanent alteration procedure make going under the knife seem easier than ever.

For many, this decision proves to boost self-confidence, interpersonal skills, and quality of life.

However, the potential consequences of plastic surgery can affect us both physically and mentally. To ensure that patients are prepared and properly cared for before heading to the operating room, physicians turn to mental health evaluations.

Let’s consider a few questions to help you understand more about these assessments.

Why Do Surgeons Use Mental Health Evaluations?

Surgeons seek in-depth evaluations in order to better identify those who may have more difficulty adjusting psychologically after a procedure.

view of woman's stomach and oversized jeans to show weightloss

To accomplish this, a patient’s reasons for surgery, mental health history, and their desired outcomes are all evaluated. If a patient, for example, has unrealistic expectations for their surgery or is already suffering from body dysmorphia or other mental illness, they are at a greater risk of developing negative side-effects post-surgery.

These side-effects can include:

  • Developing or increasing experiences of depression
  • Self-destructive behaviors, mania, anger, etc.
  • Increase or development of suicidal thoughts/actions
  • Social isolation or other social adjustment problems

Who Can Perform A Mental Health Evaluation?

Mental health evaluations to clear a patient for surgery are conducted by doctoral level licensed clinical mental health providers, including psychologists and psychiatrists. Psychological testing, on the other hand, can only be conducted and interpreted by a licensed clinical psychologist. These evaluations are not intended to judge or expose a patient for electing to have plastic surgery. They are confidential assessments that psychologists use to help the patient feel prepared for the surgical procedure.

For some patients, mental health evaluations can seem intrusive or unnecessary. In reality, these evaluations serve to inform the doctor whether or not the patient’s psychological system can handle the emotional and mental work of undergoing cosmetic surgery.

What Does A Mental Health Evaluation Look Like?

The extent of the evaluation will vary among doctors. However, all tests aim to discover the what, why, and for whom the patient is choosing surgery.

For that reason, the psychologist will look at what it is exactly the patient is hoping for with their plastic surgery. Surgical changes to our appearance may seem minor or even superficial, but are nonetheless permanent and alter how we see and feel about ourselves.

The psychologist might also seek out a patient’s expectations of how the surgery may improve or change their life. Here, the psychologist evaluates underlying issues including self-esteem, problems in one’s personal or professional life, and other difficulties that the patient hopes to overcome with the aid of plastic surgery. If these expectations are unrealistic or inappropriate, plastic surgery may not be a safe option for that patient.

The motivations behind surgery as well as why the patient is choosing to do it now are all factors that psychologists take into careful consideration.  Their goal is to prevent dissatisfaction for patients who enter into the procedure unprepared. That’s because patients who are not satisfied after surgery typically seek additional unnecessary procedures. Moreover, these patients are also at an increased risk of depression, social or familial isolation, anger, and inappropriate or harmful behaviors.  Mental health evaluations and treatments are intended to help set you up for the utmost preparedness and success with your surgical procedure.

How Can You Prepare for Your Mental Health Evaluation?

It is important to note that mental health evaluations protect patients and doctors. To prepare for your experience, continue researching the benefits and risks of plastic surgery. You might also talk with friends and family about your procedure to help gain confidence and support.

two women in plank position giving each other a high five

Additionally, talk with your psychologist about other tools and guidance they can offer for your journey. The more you know, the less intimidating and mysterious the process will feel.

Plastic surgery can be a wonderful option for many patients. But to ensure a patient’s psychological preparedness, doctors turn to mental health evaluations to protect their patients’ health and safety. Knowing how to make the most of this service is in your own best interest.