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The Power of Looking, and Feeling, Better

Photo: Courtesy of Septian simon

Many people intuitively believe that if you look better, you feel better, which is reflective in our daily lives, such as feeling ready to tackle the day after getting dressed in the morning. 


Ashaki D. Patel, M.D.

Chief Resident in Dermatology, Medical College of Wisconsin


Kachiu C. Lee, M.D.


Heidi Prather, M.D.

The survey-based IMPACT study explored this concept with more than 700 patients across 11 academic and private dermatology practices, using a patient-reported tool comprising more than 40 independently functioning scales and checklists to measure concepts and symptoms important to facial aesthetic patients. The questionnaires evaluated “internal factors” (psychological distress and function, such as body image, self-confidence, and self-esteem) and “external factors” (social function, such as personal and professional relationships with others, social situations, and jobs).

Interestingly, the study found that psychological distress/function improved more than social function. Before their cosmetic procedures, 30 percent of patients felt younger than their actual age. The IMPACT study confirmed the “look better, feel better” concept when that number jumped to 64 percent one month after receiving their treatments — doubling the number of people that felt like they looked better than their age with just one cosmetic treatment. 

Eighty-eight percent of patients thought their results looked natural, 73 percent agreed they didn’t have the telltale signs of having had cosmetic procedures, and 70 percent felt the aesthetic results helped reflect the best version of themselves.

For social function, the study found the patients’ aesthetic results had a positive effect on their:

  • Professional relationships (78 percent)
  • Personal relationships (75 percent)
  • Self-esteem (90 percent)
  • Self-confidence (87 percent)

What it means

This highlights an important distinction: While minimally invasive cosmetic procedures may help improve the way patients feel about themselves, they may not necessarily translate to patient-perceived improvement in relationships or social situations. 

Ultimately, this study helps us understand why patients seek elective aesthetic treatments; it’s a good option for those looking to improve their self-confidence and self-perception. However, if the motivation is to improve interpersonal relationships or social/job functioning, cosmetic procedures may not be the best route.

It is important to seek counsel from a board-certified dermatologist to ensure you are a good candidate for the cosmetic treatment you desire, and discuss what you are trying to achieve. Remember that cosmetic treatments are medical procedures, and an extensively trained, board-certified dermatologist can properly advise you on the best procedure(s) for you, provide a customized plan to address your concerns, and help manage your expectations throughout the process.

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