Influences on Decision-Making Regarding Having Plastic Surgery: A Mental Models and Quantitative Assessment
Abstract Background: Research was conducted to gain insight into potential clients' decisions to have plastic surgery, their perception of benefits and risks, their judgment of outcomes, and their selection of a plastic surgeon. Method: Semi-structured open-ended interviews were conducted with 60 people who expressed interest in plastic surgery. Qualitative analysis revealed their “mental models” regarding influences on their decision to have plastic surgery and their choice of a surgeon. Interview results were used to design a web-based survey in which 644 individuals considering plastic surgery participated. Results: The desire for change was the most direct motivator to have plastic surgery. Improvements to physical well-being were related to emotional and social benefits. When prompted about risks, participants mentioned physical, emotional and social risks. Surgeon selection was a critical influence on decisions to have plastic surgery. Participants gave considerable weight to personal consultation and believed that finding the “right” plastic surgeon would minimize potential risks. Findings from the web-based survey were consistent with the mental models interviews in terms of benefit ratings, but differed in risk ratings and surgeon selection criteria. These differences between the two groups appear related to the level of experience with plastic surgery and plastic surgeons. Conclusions: The mental models interviews revealed that participants were thoughtful about their decision to have plastic surgery and focused on finding the right plastic surgeon.