The concept of body image is important. The head and neck are the most visible portions of the body. The shape of the eyes, mouth, face, and nose is very important to people. Many dislike their body image and want to change it by cosmetic surgery. Others require cosmetic surgery to repair alterations caused by trauma. Still others suffer from disfiguring head and neck cancer and need to undergo surgical procedures for the removal of these lesions. Many of these procedures are themselves mutilating.
Distortion of the body image, especially on the head and neck, can have a devastating effect on the patient. The most common reaction to head and neck disease is depression. Many affected patients suffer from feelings of sadness and hopelessness. They look in the mirror hoping that someday they will see themselves with a more acceptable body image. Recurrent thoughts of suicide are common. Many of these depressed patients turn to alcohol or other drugs.
On occasion, patients who have undergone cosmetic surgery are dissatisfied with the results. Many of these patients are trying to escape from feelings of inferiority and social maladjustment. They may have had only minor defects, but they viewed those defects as a major source of their interpersonal problems. Cosmetic surgery is a way to change their image in the hope of improving their social maladjustment. Some individuals may even blame their physicians for ''destroying'' their faces. Even after further revisions, these patients may never be satisfied. One of the keys to successful cosmetic surgery is the proper psychological evaluation of patients.
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