Female college students and cosmetic surgery: An investigation of experiences, attitudes, and body image

David B. Sarwer, Thomas F. Cash, Leanne Magee, Emily Fleming Williams, J. Kevin Thompson, Megan Roehrig, Stacey Tantleff-Dunn, Allison Kanter Agliata, Denise E. Wilfley, Amy D. Amidon, Drew A. Anderson, Michelle Romanofski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


This large, multisite study investigated female college students' experiences with and attitudes about cosmetic surgery. The study also assessed the relationship between several aspects of body image, including appearance satisfaction and investment and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, and interest in cosmetic surgery. Thirty (5 percent) of the 559 women surveyed reported that they had undergone cosmetic surgery. Two thirds of respondents reported knowing someone who had received cosmetic surgery, and approximately one third indicated that a family member had undergone surgery. Overall, participants held relatively favorable attitudes about surgery. Regression analysis suggested that a greater psychological investment in physical appearance and greater internalization of mass media images of beauty predicted more favorable attitudes toward cosmetic surgery. Fourteen women (2.5 percent) screened positive for body dysmorphic disorder based on the nature and severity of their self-reported body-image concerns. Results of this study provide new information on young women's experiences and attitudes about cosmetic surgery and how these attitudes relate to body image.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-938
Number of pages8
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2005


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