Good News: People with Facial Disfigurements Aren't as Depressed as You'd Think

K. Mathews on 22 Dec 2011 at 2:00pm

The anguish of living with a facial disfigurement may seem like a lot to bear, but new research published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons demonstrates that patients with facial scars and deformities are psychologically on par with those without disfigurements. According to Dr. Sarah L. Versnel, reconstructive surgery, self-esteem development, and therapy all appear to contribute to “relatively normal” mental functioning.  

The study examined 59 adults who were born with facial disfigurement and 59 adults who acquired facial trauma through an accident, as well as 120 adults who were free of disfigurement to compare each group. The results conceded that those with facial deformities did struggle with mild depression and anxiety more than the average person. However, they were not more prone to clinical levels of these mental health afflictions.

Surveys revealed that the mental health of people with a disfigurement had less to do with the severity of the facial defects and more to do with how they felt about their own appearance. Since patients who cared less about the opinions of others showed better mental health than those who were concerned about what others thought of their faces, the researchers recommend therapy that encourages patients to deemphasize the opinions of their peers.

Photo credit: Dr. Babak Azizzadeh

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Hi Peace01. Thank you for yr honesty. I see that you know why you are the way you are -- I know people who say the same thing, but it doesn't always help because we tend to hang on to what we know, even if it's wrong and senseless. I feel for you and my heart goes out to you. Know that you ARE a worthwhile human being, you deserve to be truly loved, not judged just by your looks, by people who care for and trust you. It takes a long time to realize this. I remember Jane Fonda said in an interview that if she could take one thing back she would not have been so hard on herself for sixty horrible years. No matter what has happened to you -- and it sounds pretty awful -- you're still here, so you gotta be strong. What hasn't killed you has made you stronger, believe it or not. But I know about the looks/love thing, and it sucks....if you ever need to talk I can give you my email. And I wish to God I could get free surgery too! Hmm how could we....
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.I agree with both. I grew up in orphanages,foster homes,groupe homes.Everyone told me I was pretty,but I couldnt see it,got plastic surgery on my face,thinking If I was pretty someone would love me. Surgery ended up disfiguring me.Ive had 5 rconstructive surgeries,!st original surgeon-worse.2nd surgeon did 2more surgeries-worse 3rd doctor gave rest of my savings $20,000 .prior asked if I should wait since I had so many surgeries within a year 1/2,said no its fine.I was devistated at this point.My first consultation I was crying trying to let him know all the surgeries Id been through,even had friend in room, I couldnt at this point grasp anything. I just had to get fixed,I was a bartender.Not much education lived on streets as a teenager.And needed to have my face fixed,No job=no home.I have since been diagnosed wth PTSD,I apparently had it all my life I was tortured at 3yrs old, hasnt been an easy life anyway was told that im having more flashbacks and other problems,beceause of all the problems due to the plastic surgery.its been,2yrs since last surgery,5yrs that my life has stopped,I just exsist. Why if a patient comes to you crying and devistated,obviously not of sound mind,tell them its ok to do the surgery?I dont understand this , should have had me or anyone evaluated first,but no,why is it all about the money.From my experience it seems so, I just saw on here the lady who wanted breast implants and she held a sign sitting on a motorcycle,dr.giving her FREE surgery,Im now broke,in pain,disfigured dont know where to turn I wish someone would help give me my life back,and all this cause I wanted to be "pretty"so someone would love me,Ironic now people see what Ive always seen when I looked in the mirror.If there is a OCULAR PLASTIC SURGEON,who does free reconstruction,like the doctor who gave fee implants, would you please help me.please.
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oh yes they do, but we both know I am NOT talking about that! Actually I get the desire to genuinely make people feel better about themselves -- it's just that I look at how women half my age are getting into that beauty addiction and it saddens me.. There is a beautiful girl who just graduated from college, her mom died, and she never used to seem to care so much about fixing her supposedly "problem" skin until she started watching too much tv like Kim Kardashian crap. I saw it happen, slowly but surely. I bet if I were rich....I'd be like Courtney Love, who obviously transferred drug addiction to surgery addiction or whatever you want to call it. But I still get that if something CAN be "fixed," like a less-than-perfect nose, of course docs will be there to fill that need....and I don't blame any of us, just sucks! But with a truly good doctor -- not only skilled but kind -- I see in their eyes that they don't want to just get rich quick, they want to help. That's not everywhere but to find one who has all the necessary qualities -- incredibly talented, realistic, and kind -- that's tough. Remember Frank Ryan -- I think that was his name -- who did great work, supposedly, a celeb doc who died recently while phone texting, who "did" people like Heidi Montag and many others? I do think he did good work....but not sure about how "right" it was, to this day. What a twisted web we weave
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Such true words you speak! 

There really are a number of great doctors out there who get satisfaction simply from seeing a smile on their patients' faces. Just yesterday my dad was asking for recommendations for docs in our area and we were discussing how some doctors have huge egos, and as such reputations about their huge egos.Whereas others make you feel like they genuinely care about what you want and will make you happy, and not just selling you on the most expensive procedure.

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Yeah...sometimes I wonder what plastic surgeons would do if we all of a sudden were able to love ourselves as is! I mean, they would lose their livelihood which is based, in essence, on lack of self-esteem regarding looks. A drug dealer in Nip/Tuck said to one of the surgeons on there, "You and I are very much in the same business. I fix an emptiness within, you fix it from the outside." So true, so sad.
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There would certainly be less demand, however most surgeons do a lot of reconstructive work in addition to cosmetic.

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must be nice to feel so great all the time! Good for you people who have such confidence. Me, not so much....some days I feel like I look like a literal MONSTER bc of my facial asymmetry. Of course it depends on your own self-perception. Even on this site I have seen so many photos of BEAUTIFUL people claiming they "need' to fix something, while I would do anything, such as cut off my left little toe, to look like they do! One woman looked like a model yet thought her face looked "witchy." Wow....I wonder if blind people have far more self-confidence! at least in the area of looks.
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I think you hit it on the head when you say it's all about self-perception. I've known stunning women who see themselves as hideous, and I've known less attractive women who think they are gorgeous (the latter are fewer in number, but they are out there). 

One of my best friends growing up always had a gorgeous face, nice upper body, and stayed fairly thin. But she carried extra weight and had cellulite in her thighs, and that's all she saw. When for me, I looked at her and thought "I'd kill for your breasts and flat stomach!" Took me years to come to terms with my own perceived flaws. 

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Read Maxwell Maltz' "Psycho-Cybernetics"

What you actually look like doesn't affect how you feel about yourself. What you BELIEVE you look like means everything.
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That is so true, chazmann.

I hope I am always a woman who believes she is beautiful, regardless of how I age. Though I'm sure when I'm 70 and living in a sunny area, I'll feel perfectly beautiful and fabulous in my abundance of rhinestones and animal print -- wrinkles be damned! ;)

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J.R. Martinez breaks all pre-conceived notions of how someone with severe facial deformities "should" feel about themselves.  And he is in the group of people who developed them from a tragic accident!  His attitude and infectious smile made him my celebrity crush of 2011 :)

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