Search Our Site

Could Cosmetic Procedures Make Us Happier?

Back To Blog Overview

You’ve probably seen the happy, smiling faces used in cosmetic procedure advertisements and marketing, but is that a realistic depiction, or just a sales tactic? There’s a surprisingly large amount of clinical research into this subject, so let’s take a dive into some of the science behind happiness, beauty, and cosmetic procedures.

Does Being Beautiful Make Us Happier?

According to one study, being more physically beautiful does have a significant impact on happiness, provided the person lives in an urban environment (as opposed to a very rural location)5.  The study concluded that in higher-competition locations, beauty predicted success in work, social, and intimate relationships, making beautiful people more likely to be successful, and also significantly happier than others. In very rural settings, where the selection was smaller, beauty played less of a role in success, and therefore, was less likely to affect the person’s happiness.

If beauty can make us successful and happy, then does cosmetic surgery make us feel more beautiful?

It turns out, that most patients who undergo cosmetic surgery not only remain happy in the long term, and feel more self confidence and happiness around the trait they’ve had altered, but they also feel more self-confident and happy with their looks on the whole 7.

Do Wrinkles Make Us Sad?

Charles Darwin was among the first scientists to theorize that our facial movements affect our emotions. Known as Facial Feedback Hypothesis, a growing number of scientific studies suggest that not only does a frown or smile help make us happier or sadder, but preventing or inhibiting those facial expressions also affects our moods similarly9. In a widely publicized study, it was found that Botox used to prevent frown lines (i.e. prevent frowning), helped to alleviate depression4. When researchers first discovered the link between Botox and happiness, they attributed it to increased attractiveness, but further studies revealed it was actually due to the preventing of certain facial expressions10.

Do Rejuvenating Procedures Improve Our Well-Being and Health?

Whether a rejuvenating procedure actually makes the body younger or healthier depends on the technique and method of action the procedure utilizes. Some procedures, like laser skin resurfacing and energy-based skin tightening procedures, work by creating a cell-turnover response, which does generate new, healthier cells. A new study recently found that fractional laser resurfacing creates new cells that are healthier and more resistant to skin cancers and pre-cancerous changes11.

If lasers can indeed make us healthier, what about surgical procedures?

When it comes to surgery that’s purely cosmetic, measuring an increase in health is harder to gauge. However, when it comes to well-being, most surgical patients do agree that their procedure(s) had a significantly positive affect on their lives:

  • 86% of facelift patients reported an “improved sense of well-being” following their procedure1
  • According to RealSelf, 94% of Facelift patients say the procedure was “worth it” – Necklift, Lower Facelift, and Eyelid Lift all get the same high ratings from patients (at 94-97% saying it was “worth it”)
  • 86% of laser liposuction patients on RealSelf said they would

When Cosmetic Procedures Don’t Make Us Happier

Conditions Which Make Cosmetic Surgery Unlikely to Make A Patient Happier3

  • Mental health concerns, specifically body dysmorphia disorder and personality disorders
  • Previous procedures with poor outcomes
  • Unrealistic expectations of the procedure’s results
  • Those who undergo procedures to make others happy

Many studies into the happiness of patients following cosmetic procedures have listed “realistic expectations” as the number 1 predictor of future patient happiness.

What are realistic expectations? 

Realistic expectations depend upon your individual anatomy, medical history, your body’s reaction to treatment, and your needs/wants for the procedure. Our physicians use the information gathered during an in-person examination and consultation to provide patients with realistic expectations, and a treatment plan that utilizes the most advanced technologies and techniques to achieve the best possible results for each individual.

Call us at (973) 740-2444 to schedule your consultation today!


  1. Deiner, Ed; Fujita, Frank; Wolsic, Brian; Physical Attractiveness and Subjective Well-Being
  2. J. Margraf, A. H. Meyer, K. L. Lavalee (2013): Well-being from the knife? Psychological effects of aesthetic surgery, Clinical Psychological Science, doi: 10.1177/2167702612471660
  3. Castle, David; Honigman, Roberta; Phillips, Katharine; A Review of Psychosocial Outcomes for Patients Seeking Cosmetic Surgery; Plast Reconstr Surg. 2004 Apr 1; 113(4): 1229–1237. doi:  10.1097/01.PRS.0000110214.88868.CA
  4. M Axel Wollmer, Claas de Boer, Nadeem Kalak, Johannes Beck, Thomas Gotz, Tina Schmidt, Muris Hodzic, Ursula Bayer, Thilo Kollmann, Katja Kollewe, Daniela Sonmez, Katja Dntsch, Martin D Haug, Manfred Schedlowski, Martin Hatzinger, Dirk Dressler, Serge Brand, Edith Holsboer-Trachsler, Tilmann HC Kruger; Facing depression with botulinum toxin: A randomized controlled trial; Journal of Psychiatric Research Volume 46, Issue 5, May 2012, Pages 574–581
  5. PLAUT, V. C., ADAMS, G. and ANDERSON, S. L. (2009), Does attractiveness buy happiness? “It depends on where you’re from”. Personal Relationships, 16: 619–630. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2009.01242.x
  6. RealSelf Online Cosmetic Surgery Community Worth-It Ratings
  7. Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum; Why people put themselves under the knife: Plastic surgery makes people happy; March 11, 2013,
  8. Lewis MB, Bowler PJ. (2009). Botulinum toxin cosmetic therapy correlates with a more positive mood. J Cosmet Dermatol., 8,24-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2009.00419.x.
  9. Randy J. Larsen, Margaret Kasimatis, & Kurt Frey; Facilitating the Furrowed Brow: An Unobtrusive Test of the Facial Feedback Hypothesis Applied to Unpleasant Affect; Cognition and Emotion; Volume 6, Issue 5, 1992
  10. Joshua Ian Davis, Ann Senghas, Fredric Brandt, and Kevin N. Ochsner;  The Effects of BOTOX® Injections on Emotional Experience ; Emotion. 2010 Jun; 10(3): 433–440. doi:  10.1037/a0018690
  11. Basil M. Hantash, MD, PhD; Daniel B. Stewart, MD, PhD; Zachary A. Cooper, MD; Wingfield E. Rehmus, MD, MPH; R. James Koch, MD; Susan M. Swetter, MD; Facial Resurfacing for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer Prophylaxis; Journal of the American Medical Association; Dermatology; August 1, 2006, Vol 142, No. 8