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Cosmetic medical treatments have become mainstream, and images of beauty surround us on television, in magazines, and in advertising. It is no wonder that the quest for beauty has become so prevalent. This paper explores why individuals choose to undergo cosmetic procedures, and looks at the nature versus nurture debate surrounding this phenomenon. It is important for nurses, physicians, nurse practitioners, or other healthcare professionals involved in the cosmetic surgery field to understand the underlying motivations for choosing to undergo elective cosmetic procedures in order to make appropriate choices about their patients' care. The first theory in this article is rooted in the "nature" school-of-thought and explores the evolutionary basis behind the quest for beauty. It shows that we may be 'hardwired' to think that our appearance signals our reproductive capability (D. B. Sarwer, L. Magee, & V. Clark, 2004) and that human physical attractiveness is merely a collection of physical traits that signal fecundity and health (V. Swami, C. Greven, & A. Furnham, 2007). The "nurture" concept focuses on the second theory, the sociocultural theory, which implies that people who choose to use cosmetic medical treatments to enhance their appearance may be attempting to increase their self-image or self-perception, improve their social relationships, and increase their probability of success across a variety of social situations. Other minor theories such as the estrogen theory and the psychological theory are discussed, along with implications for practice. All of these theories are valuable to the healthcare professional and allow a deeper understanding of the psyche of their patients.
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