Surgeon Weighs in on Study That Says Surgery Doesn’t Boost Attractiveness

Share Article

A recent small study shows that facial cosmetic procedures can make a person look younger, but not more attractive. Dr. Michael A. Bogdan, a plastic surgeon specializing in procedures such as face lift in Dallas, questions these findings.

A group of doctors recently embarked on a small study in which subjects evaluated before-and-after photos of facial plastic surgery patients, and the findings are making waves in the cosmetic surgery world. Subjects said that the patients did not appear more attractive after their surgeries and that they looked, on the average, only about 3 years younger. Dr. Michael A. Bogdan, who has performed facial procedures such as face lift surgery in suburban Dallas for years, says doctors and patients can learn from these findings, but he doesn’t expect them to have a major effect on the industry.

“This study misses a critical factor,” Dr. Bogdan says. “It doesn’t measure patient satisfaction or confidence. Plastic surgery isn’t only about trying to make yourself more attractive to others — it’s about feeling better about yourself.”

The study (, performed at a Toronto private practice and published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, had 50 participants look at photos of 49 patients before and after face lift, neck lift, and eyelid surgery procedures. The participants then guessed the patients’ ages and rated their attractiveness. The study did not, as Dr. Bogdan points out, ask the patients whether they felt they looked better or whether they were happy with their results.

“Most people who decide to go to the trouble and cost of getting surgery aren’t just doing it because they want to look prettier,” says Dr. Bogdan, a board-certified breast, body, and facial plastic surgery specialist serving Dallas. “Patients have usually thought about getting surgery for years because they have some part of their body that they don’t feel good about, or because age-related changes have made them less confident.”

Studies of patient satisfaction from a wide array of procedures have shown boosted rates of confidence and self-esteem and even improved quality of life.

“Surgery isn’t a magic spell that makes a person immediately gorgeous, but it can be an effective remedy for self-esteem issues. After surgery, patients typically like what they see in the mirror, often after being dissatisfied with their appearance for a very long time,” Dr. Bogdan says. “It can alleviate a source of emotional discomfort, and put people on a path to self-acceptance and bigger life changes.”

Dr. Bogdan says he hopes people don’t take this study the wrong way and let it affect their desire to get surgery.

“A lot of people are talking about this research and how it shows that surgery isn’t effective, but I don’t think that’s accurate,” he says. “My experience is that surgery is extremely effective in helping people to feel good about their appearance.”

One lesson doctors and patients should take from the study, Dr. Bogdan says, is to try to manage expectations. The premise of the Toronto study seems to imply that the expected results of plastic surgery are a more attractive, younger-looking face, he says, but that’s not exactly a surgeon’s goal.

“When I do a more subtle procedure like rhinoplasty for my Dallas patients, for instance, I always make sure to talk to them first about how they are still going to look like themselves afterward, just improved,” he says. “Patients can’t expect a whole new face after surgery, and doctors need to make sure they understand that. What they should expect is to see improvements in concerns that have been bothering them, and they should expect to like the way they look.”

Dr. Michael A. Bogdan ( is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Dallas. He received his medical degree and completed residency at Stanford University. He is certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery and is an active member of a number of national and international plastic surgery associations.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Michael A. Bogdan, MD, FACS
Follow us on
Visit website