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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 1685-1690  

Attitudes and acceptance of the Saudi population toward cosmetic surgeries in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Family Medicine Department, King Saud Medical City, Saudi Arabia

Date of Web Publication31-May-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sarah A R Morait
R-3 Family Medicine Residency Training Programme, King Saud Medical City
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_249_19

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Context: Public awareness regarding cosmetic surgery. Aims: To assess the attitudes and acceptance of cosmetic surgery among patients in a tertiary care hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Settings and Design: Single-center, cross-sectional study in the family medicine department at our institution. Methods and Material: Data were collected from 389 patients (age 15-50, 29.37 ± 9.25 years, male: female = 139:250) using the Acceptance of Cosmetic Surgery Scale (ACSS) modified for Arabic speakers. Statistical Analysis Used: SPSS 22 statistical package. Results: One hundred eighty-five (47.6%) patients were willing to undergo minor cosmetic surgery, whereas 144 (37.1%) were not. Additionally, 237 (60.9%) patients agreed that cosmetic surgery is good because it can help people feel better about themselves, whereas104 (26.8%) patients disagreed. Robust Cronbach α values were observed among all ACSS scales. Mean significant (P = 0.002) differences were observed between gender and the intrapersonal scale scores. The average intrapersonal scale score was greater among female patients (22.48 vs. 19.29). Similarly, the mean consider scale scores among female patients (20.92 vs. 17.45; P = 0.001). Mean significant (P = 0.001) differences were also observed between education and the intrapersonal scale. Conclusions: The results reveal important information regarding the acceptance of and attitudes toward cosmetic surgery in Saudi Arabia. There is an urgent need for regulatory intervention to ensure patient safety and satisfaction.

Keywords: Acceptance, attitudes, cosmetic surgery, regulatory intervention, Saudi Arabia

How to cite this article:
Morait SA, Abuhaimed MA, Alharbi MS, Almohsen BE, Alturki AT, Alarbash AA. Attitudes and acceptance of the Saudi population toward cosmetic surgeries in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. J Family Med Prim Care 2019;8:1685-90

How to cite this URL:
Morait SA, Abuhaimed MA, Alharbi MS, Almohsen BE, Alturki AT, Alarbash AA. Attitudes and acceptance of the Saudi population toward cosmetic surgeries in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Apr 1];8:1685-90. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Cosmetic surgery is a subspecialty that deals primarily with the preservation, rebuilding, or improvement of the physical appearance of an individual through surgical and therapeutic methods. Over the past 10 years, there has been a huge increase in the number of cosmetic surgeries worldwide.[1]

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, approximately 8.3 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in 2003. These values represent an increase of 299% between 1997 and 2003, and the number has further increased in the last decade. Patients seeking cosmetic surgery are generally assumed to be older women attempting to turn back time. The typical patient, however, is significantly younger; 45% of all patients undergoing cosmetic surgery are aged 35-50 years, and 27% are under 35 years.[2],[3]

Three features are likely to play a role in the current expansion of cosmetic surgery. These aspects include medical advancements, patient characteristics, and media influences. For many years, mass media has been recognized to have a huge influence in determining both personal appearance and hypothetical decisions regarding cosmetic surgery. For decades, the public has imitated the hairstyles, clothing, and body types of the famous, and as a result, many studies have estimated that mass media influences, such as magazines, TV shows, and movies, may affect body image satisfaction and self-esteem.[4],[5]

In spite the wonderful advances in the field of plastic surgery, the knowledge regarding the field among the general public remains inadequate, especially regarding cosmetic surgery. It also remains unclear whether the medical community is well-educated about cosmetic surgery. The knowledge of the public about cosmetic plastic surgery will increase in proportion to the knowledge of the health workers who are likely to inform or misinform the public about these surgical procedures. These people contribute significantly to public health care.

This study is an attempt to determine the knowledge of the patients in Saudi Arabia at the national level about cosmetic surgery and their attitudes. However, there might be a low level of knowledge and attitude toward cosmetic surgery among patients because of insufficient understanding and lack of awareness.

Cosmetic surgery was previously prohibited and considered to be religiously unaligned in Saudi Arabia. The public was against cosmetic surgery because of the health risks and religious views regarding restorative surgeries. However, the general attitudes about the risks and safety of the procedure have improved with the introduction of innovations and techniques as well as advice and recommendations from family and friends.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, expenditures for both surgical and nonsurgical procedures are increased by 1.5 billion dollars from 2014 to 2015. Surgical procedures accounted for 58% of the total expenditures in 2015, whereas nonsurgical procedures accounted for 42%.[6]

Agbenorku (2013)[7] conducted an observational study to determine the level of awareness and attitudes toward facial plastic surgery and organ transplants. Few (33.5%) respondents were familiar with face transplants; 70.0% and 62.1% were willing to undergo a face transplant if their face was disfigured or were willing to donate their face when dead, respectively. Additionally, 50.6% were familiar with organ transplants. Conclusively, face and organ transplants were found to have relatively low and high awareness levels, respectively. However, a positive attitude was recorded for face and organ transplants. More education on face and organ transplants is needed.

Antoszewski (2012)[8] conducted a study on the perception of plastic surgery and its influence on referrals. Respondents were asked to complete a questionnaire containing questions regarding conditions for which plastic surgery treatments were reimbursed. Fifty-eight primary care physicians responded: 30 specialists in family medicine and 28 residents in the final year of their specialization in family medicine. Respondents had a good knowledge regarding the range of the conditions encountered in plastic surgery. Categorically, the improvement of needs and collaboration between plastic surgeons and family physicians to provide basic knowledge regarding plastic surgery should be included in residency programs in family medicine.

Another cross-sectional study in 2011[9] aimed to measure the prevalence and desire for body contouring surgery after bariatric surgery patients in Saudi Arabia. The results showed that 78.1% participants wanted to undergo cosmetic surgery (body contouring). However, only 14% participants underwent the surgery. The study did not indicate why most of the patients who wanted to have surgery did not.

  Subjects and Methods Top

Study design

This cross-sectional study was conducted in the family medicine clinic at a tertiary care hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The study protocol was approved by the Ethical Committee and Institutional Review Board at our institution.

Study population

The target population of the study was chosen from the patients attending the family medicine clinic at our institution. All male and female patients who could read and write and aged 15-50 years were included in the study.

Data collection

All patient data were collected using a validated questionnaire from the Acceptance of Cosmetic Surgery Scale (ACSS; Henderson-King and Henderson-King 2005) modified for Arabic speakers.[10] ACSS is a 15-item scale that measures the acceptance of cosmetic surgery for social and intrapersonal reasons (Henderson-King and Henderson-King, 2005). ACSS has three subscales: (1) Intrapersonal, which assesses whether an individual would have cosmetic surgery for self-oriented benefits, e.g. “Cosmetic surgery can be a big benefit to people's self-image”; (2) Social, which measures whether an individual would undergo cosmetic surgery for social reasons, e.g. “I would seriously consider having cosmetic surgery if my partner thought it was a good idea”; and (3) Consider, which assesses whether an individual would consider undergoing surgery for general reasons under various scenarios, e.g. “If I could have a surgical procedure done for free I would consider trying cosmetic surgery.” Responses were reported on a 7-point scale (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree), with higher scores indicative of greater endorsement of cosmetic surgery. Subscale scores were computed by taking the mean value for items associated with each subscale. The total score referred to as acceptance was computed by calculating the mean across all items. ACSS has demonstrated high internal consistency, and the Cronbach's alpha across four validation studies was 0.84-0.92 (Henderson-King, and Henderson-King, 2005). As noted above, ACSS was translated into the Arabic language for the purposes of the current study and scored in the same manner as the English version.

Sample size and sampling technique

The sample size was calculated using sample size software for prevalence studies [11] considering 50% knowledge and attitude toward cosmetic surgery and using a 5% margin of error and 95% confidence interval. Non-probability convenience sampling indicated an estimated sample of 389 patients for this study would have 80% power for the test to detect differences at a two-sided level of significance.

Statistical analysis

Categorical variables such as gender, age group, and marital status were presented in frequencies and percentages. Continuous variables such as age and ACSS scales were presented as mean ± standard deviation (SD). The Cronbach α test was employed to assess the internal consistency of the ACSS. An independent sample t test/analysis of variance test was used to determine the mean significant differences between the study characteristics and ACSS scales. Data were entered and analyzed through the statistical package SPSS 22 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA).

  Results Top

The current study included 389 family medicine patients selected by non-probability convenience sampling and interviewed to determine their attitudes toward cosmetic surgery. Demographic information for the participants is provided in [Table 1]. The number of women in the study (250,64.3%) was greater than that of men (139,35.7%), and the average age of the patients was 29.37(±9.25) years. Two hundred and thirty-seven (60.9%) patients agreed that cosmetic surgery is a good thing, whereas104 (26.8%) patients disagreed [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4].
Table 1: Basic characteristics of the patients (n=389)

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Table 2: Questionnaire responses to first 15 scale items (n=389)

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Table 3: Questionnaire responses to scale item 16 on past surgeries (n=389)

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Table 4: Questionnaire responses to scale item 17 on future surgeries

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Robust Cronbach α values were observed among all ACSS scale scores, which reflects perfect internal consistency and reliability of all ACSS scores. The average value for the statement “an individual should have cosmetic surgery for its self-oriented benefits” was 21.34(±8.753), which is a significantly high value for the intrapersonal scale scores. The average value for the overall scale was 60.11(±25.117)[Table 5].
Table 5: Descriptive statistics and the internal consistency of ACSS scale items

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There were no mean significant differences observed between age group and ACSS scale scores. On the contrary, mean significant (P = 0.002) differences were observed between gender and the intrapersonal scale scores. The mean value for female patients on the Consider scale (20.92 ± 9.11) was higher than that for male patients (17.45 ± 8.31), and the difference was statistically significant (P = 0.001). Mean significant differences (P = 0.001) were also observed between education level and the intrapersonal scale scores [Table 6].
Table 6: Analysis of the acceptance of cosmetic surgery among the Saudi population

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  Discussion Top

Our results reveal important information regarding the attitudes and acceptance of the Saudi population toward cosmetic surgery. Overall, 43.9% acceptance of cosmetic surgery was observed among patients. However, the results indicate that appearance-related attitudes predicted the degree to which women accepted cosmetic surgery for social reasons, and this group desired some new cosmetic procedures as well. Our findings were nearly similar to our expectations of a positive attitude and acceptance of cosmetic surgery among the patients.

From our results, women had a significantly higher total ACSS score than men. Markey et al.[12] also reported that women were more concerned regarding cosmetic surgery than men. Similarly, Swami et al.[13] stated that women have greater acceptance of cosmetic surgery. According to Brown et al.,[5] this sex difference may derive from the greater socio-cultural burden on women to obtain the ideals of physical attractiveness and attention.

Our results indicated that ACSS can be used to evaluate internal and external motivations for undergoing cosmetic surgery among the Saudi population. In the present study, intrapersonal reasons were more important than social reasons among both women and men. These conclusions are similar to the results obtained from other studies involving women who reported internal rather than external reasons for undergoing breast-augmentation surgery.[14] Among adults in the United States and Europe, intrapersonal reasons have a greater impact on the acceptance of cosmetic surgery compared with social reasons. In non-Western countries, however, intrapersonal and social reasons have equal influence on the acceptance of cosmetic surgery.[5],[12],[13]

The data confirmed that the current sample of patients encompassed different age groups and had significant attitudes and acceptance toward cosmetic surgery. In consideration of group mean analysis scores for measures assessing openness toward cosmetic surgery for oneself, women, and men, the participants were overall quite favorable toward cosmetic surgery regardless of their classification and the patients undergoing cosmetic surgery. Furthermore, our results agree with Park et al.'s findings [15] that young adults in the U.S. increasingly hold positive views about cosmetic surgery for themselves and others. This persistent acceptance of cosmetic surgery has been the conventional method in the last few decades in the U.S. Overall, the study demonstrated the value of cosmetic surgery as a means of making individuals feel better about themselves in multiple contexts. Current research suggests that a generational effect that replicates a slightly self-absorbed and young generation may influence the degree of acceptance of cosmetic surgery.

Our study has several limitations. This was a single-center study and, therefore, will not be completely representative of all hospitals in Saudi Arabia. Population proportion sampling can underestimate the error within a sample, and when errors are found, population proportion sampling may overstate the allowance of sampling risk. The study sample was a consecutive series of patients who visited family medicine clinic settings. This group may have different characteristics than the general population during the observed period. Findings obtained in such specific settings cannot be easily generalized to the wider population.

  Conclusion Top

The attitude and acceptance of cosmetic surgery remain low in developing nations. ACSS appears to be a valid instrument for use in Saudi populations. Our study contributes toward better understanding of the acceptance of cosmetic surgery from a cross-cultural perspective.


We gladly acknowledge the plentiful assistance provided to us by the staff at the Family Medicine Department of KSMC, Bashayer Bamashmos, Maram Alhmedi, Shaden Alquraishi, Ragad Alquraishi, and Farah Nayfeh Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Author contributions

Conceived and designed the experiment: SAM GW. Performed the experiment: SAM GW. Analysed the data: SAM. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: SAM GW. Wrote the paper: SAM.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Swami V, Chamorro-Premuzic T, Bridges S, Furnham A. Acceptance of cosmetic surgery: Personality and individual difference predictors. Body Image 2009;6:7-13.  Back to cited text no. 1
Sarwer DB, Cash TF, Magee L, Williams EF, Thompson JK, Roehrig M, et al. Female college students and cosmetic surgery: An investigation of experiences, attitudes, and body image. PlastReconstrSurg 2005;115:931-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Quick Facts: Highlights of the ASAPS 2007 Statistics on Cosmetic Surgery; 2008. Available from:  Back to cited text no. 3
Sperry S, Thompson JK, Sarwer DB, Cash TF. Cosmetic surgery reality TV viewership: Relations with cosmetic surgery attitudes, body image, and disordered eating. Ann PlastSurg 2009;62:7-11.  Back to cited text no. 4
Brown A, Furnham A, Glanville L, Swami V. Factors that affect the likelihood of undergoing cosmetic surgery. AesthetSurg J 2007;27:501-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
Dossett LA, Riesel JN, Griffin MR, Cotton BA. Prevalence and implications of preinjury warfarin use: An analysis of the National Trauma Databank. Arch Surg 2011;146:565-70.  Back to cited text no. 6
Agbenorku P, Agbenorku M, Agamah G. Awareness and attitudes towards face and organ transplant in Kumasi, Ghana. Ghana Med J 2013;47:30-4.  Back to cited text no. 7
Antoszewski B, Kardas P, Kasielska A, Fijalkowska M. Family physicians' perception of plastic surgery and its influence on referral. A survey from Poland. Eur J Gen Pract 2012;18:22-5.  Back to cited text no. 8
Aldaqal SM, Samargandi OA, El-deek BS, Awan BA, Ashy AA, Kensarah AA. Prevalence and desire for body contouring surgery in postbariatric patients in Saudi Arabia.N Am J Med Sci 2012;4:94.  Back to cited text no. 9
Henderson-King D, Henderson-King E. Acceptance of cosmetic surgery: Scale development and validation. Body Image 2005;2:137-49.  Back to cited text no. 10
Daniel WW. Biostatistics: A Foundation for Analysis in the Health Sciences. 7th ed. New York: Wiley; 1999.  Back to cited text no. 11
Markey CN, Markey PM. A correlational and experimental examination of reality television viewing and interest in cosmetic surgery. Body Image 2010;7:165-71.  Back to cited text no. 12
Swami V, Hwang CS, Jung J. Factor structure and correlates of the acceptance of cosmetic surgery scale among South Korean university students. AesthetSurg J 2012;32:220-9.  Back to cited text no. 13
Nikolić J, Janjić Z, Marinković M, Petrović J, Božić T. Psychosocial characteristics and motivational factors in woman seeking cosmetic breast augmentation surgery. Vojnosanit Pregl 2013;70:940-6.  Back to cited text no. 14
Park LE, Calogero RM, Harwin MJ, DiRaddo AM. Predicting interest in cosmetic surgery: Interactive effects of appearance-based rejection sensitivity and negative appearance comments. Body Image 2009;6:186-93.  Back to cited text no. 15


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]


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