September is National Self-Improvement Month
Self-improvement is all about becoming a better you and it can come in many forms, from starting a new fitness regimen or eating a healthier diet to learning a new skill or quitting a bad habit. Oftentimes becoming a better version of ourselves starts with improving our self-image and self-esteem — the way we see and feel about ourselves.
“These two important, self-defining profiles influence nearly every aspect of what we do on a daily basis,” says Bryan J. Cicuto, DO, FACS, a board-certified UPMC plastic surgeon with UPMC Lititz Plastic & Aesthetic Surgical Associates. “They contribute to how we approach the start of each day and how we prepare ourselves to encounter society. When we view ourselves positively, we allow everyone we interact with to be inspired by what we do, what we say and how we feel.”
Changing the way we view ourselves may require making physical changes. They could be as easy as a new haircut and new makeup or they could involve something more complex, like plastic surgery. Whatever the choice, improving self-image can be as important to our overall well-being as changing our diet or starting a new exercise routine, Dr. Cicuto says.
“If an individual is uncomfortable looking in the mirror and seeing the image that reflects back, conditions such as depression, anxiety, gender dysphoria or self-isolating behaviors are common,” he says.
Surgery can be something as small as restoring a woman’s mid-section after childbirth, a procedure that can improve self-image but also alleviate troublesome symptoms, Dr. Cicuto notes. Or it can be something as major as gender-confirmation top surgery to remove breast tissue and create a more masculine chest.
“Imagine the long-term impact of living in body that does not fit with how you view yourself,” he says. “Every day that passes, this incongruency takes a toll on how you interact with people and how you view your self-worth. Top surgery, when appropriate, helps to re-create a positive self-image, which in turn can enhance personal relationships and bring value to life.”
The goal of any cosmetic surgery is to meet a patient’s expectations safely, Dr. Cicuto says. A good surgeon will listen carefully and explain thoroughly. Never allow a loved one or a surgeon to pressure you into pursuing surgery. As with any form of self-improvement, it is up to you and you alone to decide whether surgery will create a better you.
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