Patients believe that cosmetic procedures affect their quality of life: An interview study of patient-reported motivations

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019 Jun;80(6):1671-1681. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2019.01.059. Epub 2019 Jan 31.


Background: Although treatments to address cosmetic concerns are common, patients' self-reported motives for considering such procedures have not been systematically explored.

Objective: To develop a framework of categories to describe patients' self-reported motivations for undergoing minimally invasive cosmetic procedures.

Methods: Face-to-face, semistructured patient interviews were conducted with adult participants who had undergone or were considering minimally invasive cosmetic dermatologic procedures. A qualitative constant comparative approach was used to analyze interview transcripts, yielding themes and subthemes.

Results: A total of 30 interviews were completed. Most patient-reported motivations for cosmetic procedures could be subsumed under 8 general categories (themes): (1) mental and emotional health, (2) cosmetic appearance, (3) physical health, (4) work and/or school success, (5) social well-being, (6) cost and/or convenience, (7) procedural perceptions, and (8) timing of treatment. Many individual motivations in these categories were unrelated to desire for physical beauty. In particular, participants wanted to avoid being self-conscious, enhance confidence, reduce the time and expense required to conceal physical imperfections, and be perceived as capable at work.

Limitations: Only English-speaking patients in the United States were interviewed.

Conclusion: Patient-reported motivations for cosmetic procedures mostly pertained to physical and psychosocial well-being. Indeed, a desire for improved cosmetic appearance was only 1 of the 8 themes revealed through the patient interviews.

Keywords: affect; appearance; believe; cosmetic; emotion; interview; motivations; patient; patient-reported; procedures; qualitative; quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image
  • Cosmetic Techniques / economics
  • Cosmetic Techniques / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / economics
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / psychology*
  • Motivation*
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life
  • Socioeconomic Factors