The desire to appear more attractive is universal, its permeating throughout history and in all parts of the world. Both men and women have gone through great lengths to try and meet the standards set by their society’s and cultures. Plastic cosmetic surgery, as a form of beautification, has been around for thousands of years, but only in the past century have people taken such drastic steps to change their body. Although the desire for beauty is universal, what is considered beautiful is not; it depends on the culture and society that one is from. In an attempt to become happier and more attractive, many people are turning to cosmetic plastic surgery, and the different genders and age groups all have their reasons for resorting to surgery. With the pressure to conform to our societies standards of beauty from the media; and TV shows that glorify plastic surgery and put a new person under the knife each week, it is no wonder that the number of plastic cosmetic surgery’s carried out is on the rise. In fact, cosmetic plastic surgery has quickly become the most common type of surgical procedure to be carried out. In some cases, cosmetic plastic surgery can have a positive impact in someone’s life, but for far too many cosmetic surgery patients things don’t go as smoothly as hoped. Botched procedures, dangerous methods, and unqualified surgeons can lead to a potentially disastrous and even life-threatening experience. For these reasons, there should be an age restriction of 18 and older on anyone having cosmetic plastic surgery.
Despite the obvious shortcomings of plastic surgery such as blood clotting, undesirable results, and dry eyes, there are a few positive things to be said about cosmetic plastic surgery. Cosmetic plastic surgery is typically defined as a surgical procedure which corrects or reshapes imperfections of the body which are otherwise normal structures. It is usually carried out to enhance a patients self-belief or confidence. Some plastic procedures such as rhinoplasty(nose jobs), liposuction, and botox are seemingly unbeneficial and superficial; however, there are some procedures which will improve the quality of someone’s life. Ptosis and cleft palates are two good examples of cosmetic plastic surgical procedures that can improve someone’s mood and quality of life. Ptosis is a result of elongated eyelid muscles, a result passed on at birth by genetics or also less commonly a result of aging. The lowered lid may cause vision loss, children with such a disfigurement may be teased and be uncomfortable with the asymmetry of their face. For the same reasons, a patient may have an improved quality of life from the removal of a cleft palate. For someone struggling with depression because of the way, they look plastic surgery may be the easiest and perhaps best answer. However, before someone decides to go through with it they should be well aware of the risks and possible consequences that they are taking on. For someone to do that they need to be responsible and informed and should not be allowed to make such a decision until they are at least 18.
Early attempts at cosmetic plastic surgery procedures where the reconstruction of earlobes and noses with skin grafts from the cheek and forehead have been recorded as early as 800 Bc in India and other middle eastern country’s. Progress in cosmetic plastic surgery, like advancements in other medical fields, moved at a glacial speed until the nineteenth century, when the first cleft palate operation was invented in 1827 by Dr. John Peters. After that, there was little improvement made until World War One. War played a huge role in the history of cosmetic surgery. It presented physicians with thousands of severe facial wounds, burns, and disfigurements from battle and modern weapons caused types and severity of injuries that were unprecedented in the history of plastic surgery. Some of the greatest medical talents devoted themselves fully to both exploring the history and the potential of advancement in plastic surgery at this time. In cosmetic plastic surgery’s earliest stages, it was used primarily to fix birth problems or disfigurements from injury; however, the cosmetic plastic surgery industry would soon turn into a money-making machine, promoting unnecessary and hazardous procedures by uneducated and incompetent practitioners and those seeking plastic surgery in this modern day must be wary, well informed and at an appropriate age before undergoing a procedure.
In 2003, teenagers 18 years old and younger represented 4 percent of those receiving cosmetic plastic surgery. Although the percentage may seem small, it represents over 330 000 school-aged youths who had some kind of cosmetic surgery or procedure carried out on themselves. (ASPS) There are many reasons for children this age to consider having plastic surgery, but little to be gained from rushing into it. Children who consider undergoing cosmetic plastic surgery were often bullied and picked on in school. The media of course also has an impact on the decisions of the children. It is almost impossible to go out into the world without being bombarded by advertisements on the tv, in magazines, movies, and books. They all glorify beautiful people, who are often airbrushed and not even as good looking as they appear in the ads, but it gives children an unrealistic idea of what they should or could look like. Kat is a 17-year-old first year student at Northeastern University who has seriously been considering breast implants for the past year. Kat is 5’9″ and wears an A-cup bra size. she feels that implants would make her body more proportional. “It would boost my personal self-image and self-esteem a lot,” said Kat. “Even though I know its something social…I would feel so much better if I had boobs.” Kat said that both male and female friends of hers had teased her about her small chest, and that is one of the main reasons for thinking about breast implants. Kat is not alone as a young adolescent looking for a quick fix and an easy way to fit in, but hopefully, she waits until she’s older and mature enough to properly weigh the benefits and consequences before reaching a decision.
Many people may be surprised to find out that in the past ten years the number of cosmetic plastic surgical procedures carried out each year has gone from 333 000 in 1993 to 10 000 000 in 2003, a massive increase. However, when a look at the media is taken, those numbers are a little less surprising. Prior to 1993 reality tv barely existed and there were definitely no shows where cosmetic plastic surgery was involved. Now there are over 7 shows currently run on mainstream television channels that glorify cosmetic plastic surgery. The shows include Nip Tuck, Extreme Makeover, The Swan, I Want a Famous Face, Plastic Surgery: Before and After, and Miami Slice. In Nip Tuck, two cosmetic plastic surgeons, Dr. Sean Mcnamara, and Dr. Christian Troy search for perfection. They tell beautiful people that they have flaws and then perform cosmetic plastic surgery on them. “I don’t want to be pretty, I want to be perfect.”(p.) There is even a website where normal people can send in a photograph of themselves to be told what their flaws are and what can be done to improve their facial features. With shows like this, it is no wonder that children and young teenagers would be considering plastic surgery. Whereas Nip Tuck takes perfectly good looking people and looks to improve them, another show called Extreme Makeover takes a different approach. A team of cosmetic plastic surgeons picks 3 different ordinary people unhappy with their looks for major makeover’s. They do multiple procedures on each person putting them in danger and in excruciating pain while they recover. Unfortunately shows like these have become excepted as the norm by society and no one questions the integrity and the commercialization of the surgeons partaking in the procedures. A recent study by the ASPS showed that 4 in 5 people surveyed who underwent a cosmetic plastic surgical procedure were influenced by reality TV and over half intensively watched such shows as Nip Tuck and Extreme Makeover. “It is unfortunate that patients are turning toward the entertainment industry for educational information. We had hoped for different results. These shows may create unrealistic, unhealthy expectations about what [cosmetic plastic] surgery can do. Although it’s called reality TV, it may not be [reality].”(ASPS)
North Americans spend more than 12 000 000 000 annually on cosmetic plastic surgery, a number that has been continuing to rise year by year.(p.1) Most patients have tended to fare well, but the rate of serious and even fatal complications are also on the rise, and the risks to future patients growing. If cosmetic plastic surgeons all had their patients well being and health as their first interest there would be little problem with cosmetic plastic surgery. Unfortunately this is not the case. With the media and reality TV already convincing consumers that they need to be better looking to be happy and to fit in, it takes little effort on the part of a cosmetic plastic surgeon to bring in a patient, but millions are spent each year on advertising by cosmetic plastic surgeons as the surgeons try to make more money. Money, like in any industry has become a driving factor in the reason for medical practitioners to do cosmetic plastic surgical procedures; in fact, many of the operations carried out each year are done by completely unqualified individuals, people looking to benefit from the insecurities of the everyday person. Each year increasing numbers of physicians from virtually every segment of medicine as well as nonphysicians and nonmedical practitioners offer cosmetic procedures. Some have simple training in related fields and some have none at all. Even worse, many doctors approach the field of cosmetic plastic surgery as entrepreneurs instead of medical professionals. This leaves real-life cosmetic medical patients to fend or themselves, sometimes with tragic results.
As the numbers of cosmetic plastic surgery’s increase so do the numbers of surgical procedures that have gone horribly wrong. While the demand for cosmetic plastic surgeons rises there are physicians untrained or unskilled in that field that are performing surgeries. In the darkness of early Florid morning, a cab driver witnessed a terrifying sight. Collapsed on the sidewalk near a plastic surgery clinic was a young woman, covered in blood and wrapped in intravenous tubing and monitor wires. She woke in the clinic gasping for breath, but there was no one to help so she dragged herself onto the street and passed out until the unsuspecting cab driver noticed and called the police. (p.99) Despite advances in medicine that have greatly improved patient safety, too many purveyors of cosmetic plastic surgery for too long a time without regard for established standards of care. In Florida, mortalities after cosmetic surgery caught the attention of reporters from the sun sentinel, who launched a lengthy investigation. The reporters examined thousands of files and found that dozens of deaths had occurred as a result of poorly performed cosmetic plastic surgical procedures. After a breast implant operation, a patient, Eliza was in constant pain due to a gaping hole inside her left breast. The plastic surgeon operating on her was unqualified and unskilled and nearly killed Eliza.(p.) Plastic surgeon, Dr. Darryl Hodgkinsons says he spends nearly 70% of his time operating on patients who are dissatisfied with previous cosmetic surgery, and most often an unskilled surgeon is to blame. It is often assumed that cosmetic plastic surgery is less risky and easier to perform than other surgeries, but this is definitely not the case.
While some patients have undergone plastic surgery because of bullying or because of a physical abnormality that is bothering them, the vast majority undergo cosmetic plastic surgery in an attempt to satisfy society’s standards of beauty and the different ages groups and genders all have their different definitions of beauty. The main reason some people undergo plastic surgery is to counter the effects aging has had on their appearance. Some procedures people undergo to achieve this are botox, blepharoplasty, brow lifts, face lifts, and liposuction. While some patients are undergoing cosmetic plastic surgery to counter aging effects, younger generations have completely different reasons. Thanks to the media many people look to cosmetic plastic surgery to slim down by using liposuction and breast implants, to get that perfect look that so many celebrities have. There is perhaps a better approach to people unhappy with their looks. One has to question whether it is possible to conform to societies standards of beauty and whether or not having cosmetic plastic surgery will truly make one happier. These are questions a patient of cosmetic plastic surgery must ask themselves, and the patient should be old enough and mature enough to understand and find the answer.
While the desire to beautify oneself is understandable, it is often better to try and look past physical appearances, both of oneself and of others. Both men and women of all ages and backgrounds have all gone through great lengths to change their looks, but only recently has it become an epidemic. Thanks to the media and reality TV shows that put a new person under the knife each week, people have been rushing out the door to have cosmetic plastic surgery. Although in some few cases cosmetic plastic surgery can be beneficial to an individual in most cases it is an unnecessary risk. Botched procedures, unskilled surgeons and dangerous methods can lead to a disastrous and potentially life-threatening experience. With all of the risks involved in cosmetic plastic surgery, there should be an age restriction that will not allow anyone under the age of 18 to undergo cosmetic plastic surgery.