The experience of female patients seeking elective rhinoplasty surgery: a narrative inquiry

Auer, Deborah (2018) The experience of female patients seeking elective rhinoplasty surgery: a narrative inquiry. DProf thesis, Middlesex University / Metanoia Institute.


The aim of this research is to understand what motivates patients to have an elective rhinoplasty, taking into consideration any societal, familial, cultural and intrapersonal influences. The research question explored how, if at all, surgery impacts women’s embodied sense of themselves and if there is a way of providing psychological support to this patient group. Four female patients were interviewed preoperatively and postoperatively using a narrative inquiry approach. The research offers a detailed qualitative contribution in a field that is predominantly quantitatively studied. The research explored the nuances of why female patients want to have rhinoplasty surgery.
The narratives of the patients showed that the motivation to have surgery is based on external and internal factors. The external factors revealed the following: society’s acceptance of cosmetic surgery, the influence of the media, the experience of the consultation and how risk is understood. The internal factors were influenced by the patients’ experience of the death of significant family members, a need to separate from patriarchal and matriarchal family members, feelings of body shame, a fear of negative evaluation from others, and objectification of their body in preparation for surgery. Following surgery, a psychological shift was discussed by each patient; this indicates that cosmetic surgery does indeed have a psychological impact.
The implication for practice is that clinicians need to have a better understanding of the motivation of this patient group to be able to offer the appropriate psychological support. Awareness also needs to be raised with surgeons, to help them better understand how the surgery they perform can have a psychological impact. This research showed that patients proceeding with cosmetic surgery could benefit from having specialised psychological support preoperatively and postoperatively. This would contribute to more realistic expectations for surgery and, hopefully, a better outcome for both patient and surgeon.

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