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Plastic Surgery: Can It Be a Good Investment in Yourself?

profileJoel Koh

At the risk of sounding old, one of the movies that left a deep impression on me is the 2006 South Korean film 200 Pounds Beauty.

Fun fact: the film is actually based on the Japanese manga Kanna’s Big Success! (カンナさん大成功です!Kanna-san Daiseikou Desu!).

Source: 200 Pounds Beauty | We Heart It

The movie revolves around Hanna Kang, an overweight ghost singer and the real talent behind Ammy, a famous but talentless K-Pop star who cannot sing.

After a series of heartbreaking events, Hanna decides to undergo extensive plastic surgery in a bid to enhance her appearance, gain more self-confidence and turn her life around.

Even now, listening to the film’s theme song Maria gives me chills.

Well, you might be thinking why am I talking about this on Seedly?

According to a statistically representative survey of 1,202 respondents in Singapore (via Statista) reported that 9 per cent have undergone plastic surgery while half of them responded that they are considering it.

Considering that the cost of getting plastic surgery in Singapore is expensive, to say the least.

You might be wondering is it a good investment? What do you need to consider?

Here’s all you need to know!


TL;DR: Plastic Surgery Singapore: Should You Engage a Plastic Surgeon?

Type of Plastic SurgeryCost (Estimate)
Breast Implant + Explant (augmentation)$10,888+
Breast Reduction$12-25,000
Breast Fillers Removal$5,000+
LiposuctionThigh - $12,000+
Tummy - $8,000+
Arms - $10,000+
Double chin - $3,000+
Tummy Tuck$8,000 - $20,000
Liposuction (arms)$10,000+
Liposuction (double chin)$3,000+
Saggy Cheeks$16,000 - $20,000
Rhinoplasty$6,000+
Jaw ReductionSingle jaw: $10,000
Double jaw: $20,000 - $30,000
Double Eyelid$1,800+
Ptosis/Droopy EyelidOne eye: $4800+
Both eyes: $8,000
Fat Grafting$3,888+
Eyebag$3,088+
Chin Augmentation$3,500
Lip Lift$1,500

Source: Allure Plastic Surgery surgeon Dr Daniel Ho | DoctorxDentist


In an ideal world, people would be successful purely due to factors like effort, talent, hard work and knowing the right people.

But in reality, it seems that more conventionally attractive people have an edge in life.

Research suggests that these people get higher salaries, get considered for more jobs and tend to have better social skills compared to conventionally unattractive people.

Here is the science to back this up.

Source: KnowYourMeme

First up we have Why Beauty Matters, an often-cited paper authored by ex Harvard economics professors Markus Mobius and Tanya Rosenblat.

The paper which was published in The American Economic Review suggests that being conventionally attractive can benefit you financially.

Since 1994, many studies suggest that workers who are above average in terms of attractive tend to earn about five to 15 per cent more than those with below-average looks.

Mobius and Rosenblat also conducted an experiment to model the hiring process.

The study found that prospective employers who looked at pictures of potential employees were ready to give about 10.5 per cent more pay to more attractive people compared to less attractive people.

More Callbacks

Another 2013 study conducted an experiment where 10,000 resumes were sent out. With this experiment, only the names, addresses, and photos were changed and the callback rates analysed.

On average, about 30 per cent of the resumes received callbacks.

However, the experiment found that more attractive women and men got called back 54 per cent of the time and 47 per cent of the time respectively.

Sadly, the unattractive women and men got called back only 7 per cent of the time and 26 per cent respectively.

Halo Effect

Another factor the Halo effect: a cognitive bias where we tend to conflate someone’s attractiveness with their overall character.

Source: Giphy

Studies suggest that we view more conventionally attractive people “as more sociable, dominant, sexually warm, mentally healthy, intelligent, and socially skilled” than conventionally unattractive people. 

This plays out in school as well as according to the above mentioned Harvard paper Why Beauty Matters, teachers tend to hold the view that their more attractive students have more potential and would give them preferential treatment.

This treatment will in turn help the more attractive students build more confidence and develop social and communication skills. This would then translate to better performance in school and increase their chances of career success.

The point I would like to drive is this. Being more attractive does give you an edge.

Sure, diet, exercise, better dressing and improving your makeup skills will help enhance your looks.

But if you have done all this, shouldn’t you have the autonomy to consider something else?

Here is where plastic surgery comes in.

What is Plastic Surgery?

Generally speaking, plastic surgery is defined broadly as cosmetic procedures done in a bid to improve the appearance and aesthetic appeal of a patient.

Although attitudes towards plastic surgery have improved in recent years, it is still a rather ‘hush hush’ thing.

Source: Giphy

People who have gone under the knife would not readily admit it to people that have just met. Especially in a conservative society like Singapore.

There are still many detractors of plastic surgery.

The more conservative crowd have the view that you should not change the features that God has given you.

On a more practical level, there are people who disapprove of plastic surgery as they find it absurd to expose yourself to medical risk for beauty.

Other groups have the view that the rich will benefit more due to costly cosmetic procedures.

In light of the benefits of being attractive, my opinion is that it is not far fetched to view plastic surgery as a good investment in yourself.

Benefits of Plastic Surgery

Aside from the benefits stated above, there might be other benefits for people who have undergone plastic surgery.

Increased Self-Confidence 

Plastic surgery would improve a person’s appearance and might lead to more self-confidence for most people.

As the saying goes, when you look good you feel good.

Looking better could make you be more willing to step out of your comfort zone and feel more at ease when socialising.

But on balance, I would like to point out that you can improve your appearance by dieting, exercising, dressing better and improving your makeup skills.

Better Mental Health Outcomes

According to researchers who authored a 2013 paper published in the Clinical Psychological Science journal; going under the knife might lead to better mental health outcomes.

Source: Authentic Grace

The researchers conducted experiments on a group of people who had undergone cosmetic surgery and another group who were interested in cosmetic surgery but have not gone under the knife.

What they found was that those who had undergone cosmetic surgery reported positive mental health outcomes like reduced anxiety, depression and social phobia.

This group also reported that they enjoyed better mental and physical health as well as increased self-esteem and life satisfaction.

Risks of Plastic Surgery

However, not everything is rosy when it come to plastic surgery.

Psychological Concerns

Experts have raised concerns that plastic surgery might be damaging for those who are suffering from mental health ailments.

For example, psychologist David Sarwer, PhD states that:

Body dysmorphic disorder is only the most obvious potential red flag, says Sarwer.
Depression should also raise concerns, says Sarwer, who in a review of the literature on psychological issues among cosmetic surgery patients cites a study suggesting that about 20 per cent of patients are taking antidepressants or other psychiatric medications or undergoing some other form of mental health treatment.
There’s also some evidence of higher rates of eating disorders among patients who seek cosmetic surgery, he adds.

Another concern is the link between breast augmentation and suicide, says Sarwer. More than half a dozen large studies have shown that women who get implants for cosmetic—rather than reconstructive—reasons have two to three times the suicide rate of other women.

Sawrwer added that “There’s been some additional evidence that suggests that many of the women who present for cosmetic breast augmentation surgery have a previous history of mental illness.”

Health Risk (Botched Surgeries)

In addition, when you go for plastic surgery, you are putting your health at risk.

Source: Giphy

Each procedure would have its respective risk. Also, there is the possibility of surgery going wrong.

Too Much of A Good Thing

Unfortunately, plastic surgery can be bad if it’s taken to the extreme and done excessively and obsessively.

I’m sure you have heard stories or read the news about people who have undergone many drastic surgeries while chasing after unattainable beauty standards.

For these cases, the people around them should be deeply concerned and actively discourage them from going under the knife.

High Costs of Plastic Surgery

Another con of plastic surgery is its high cost.

After all, you cannot use your MediSave or claim from your Health Insurance for any plastic surgery procedures that are purely for cosmetic purposes.

The only way you can use your Medisave or claim anything from health insurance for plastic surgery is when you have a medical reason for doing so.

Plastic surgery procedures are also not cheap. Generally, the cost would vary from person to person based on factors like the complexity of the surgery and other factors.

But, here is a rough guide to the cost of these procedures:

Type of Plastic SurgeryCost (Estimate)
Breast Implant + Explant (augmentation)$10,888+
Breast Reduction$12-25,000
Breast Fillers Removal$5,000+
LiposuctionThigh - $12,000+
Tummy - $8,000+
Arms - $10,000+
Double chin - $3,000+
Tummy Tuck$8,000 - $20,000
Liposuction (arms)$10,000+
Liposuction (double chin)$3,000+
Saggy Cheeks$16,000 - $20,000
Rhinoplasty$6,000+
Jaw ReductionSingle jaw: $10,000
Double jaw: $20,000 - $30,000
Double Eyelid$1,800+
Ptosis/Droopy EyelidOne eye: $4800+
Both eyes: $8,000
Fat Grafting$3,888+
Eyebag$3,088+
Chin Augmentation$3,500
Lip Lift$1,500

Source: Allure Plastic Surgery surgeon Dr Daniel Ho | DoctorxDentist

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About Joel Koh
History student turned writer at Seedly. Before you ask, not a teacher. My time as a history student has equipped me with the skills to evaluate the impact societal development has on financial and nonfinancial events.
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