Over the past decade, television has been infiltrated by shows about elective surgery. Whether it's fictional dramas like Nip/Tuck or reality shows like Dr. 90210, cosmetic surgery seems to be everywhere. In fact, these shows' popularity has risen about as quickly as the popularity of plastic surgery itself.

In a society where so much emphasis is placed on physical appearance, it's not surprising that the number of elective health-care procedures performed annually is at an all-time high. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, from 2000 to 2006, cosmetic surgical procedures increased by 48 percent, and minimally invasive procedures, such as Botox treatments and chemical peels, have risen by 66 percent.

What Is Body Image?

From our workplace environments to our social lives, others may judge us by our appearance and how we present ourselves outwardly—but sometimes we are our own worst critics. Body image is how we perceive ourselves based on our physical appearance, and it can have an enormous effect on our lives. What we see as flaws can frequently affect how we feel about ourselves and cause us to act differently in social situations.

For instance, when interviewing for a job, the confidence and personality that you exude may be negatively impacted if you're constantly wondering if the person interviewing you is staring at a gap in your teeth or a childhood scar on your cheek that never healed. Or someone concerned about excess weight who feels uncomfortable in a bathing suit may pass up a trip to the beach.

What others actually think is irrelevant; by giving off the impression that you're self-conscious, you could be unintentionally hindering progress in many areas of your life. Anyone who was teased by peers while growing up knows that it isn't uncommon for this insecurity to follow you throughout your adult life and impact you on a daily basis.

Eliminating Insecurities

Making minor alterations to one's appearance can dramatically improve self-esteem and body image, which is why so many Americans are deciding that the costs of surgery are well worth the results.

Perhaps someone has tried dieting and exercise, unsuccessfully. Or an imperfection, like a bump on the nose, is one that can't be eliminated by another method. Elective procedures can give individuals the opportunity to address the body parts that cause their insecurities and anxiety.

At the same time, experts point out that elective surgery isn't a cure-all for insecurity. There is a difference between wanting to change something and body dysmorphic disorder, which is characterized by a preoccupation with a real or imaged physical imperfection. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons recommends that you have realistic expectations before undergoing any cosmetic procedure. The organization suggests talking to a surgeon beforehand to understand the benefits, risks, recovery time, and side effects.

If you're considering cosmetic surgery, you may find that the many different payment options can make undergoing such procedures more affordable. Companies like Capital One offer health-care financing for various cosmetic, dental, vision, orthodontics, and fertility procedures. With a variety of payment plans and interest rates available, making these changes to your appearance and boosting your self-confidence can be a reality—without being a financial burden.