Plastic Surgery Essay, Research Paper
Most of us don’t like some aspect of our appearance, whether it’s sagging eyes or excess weight in particular areas, to name a few complaints. Lately a record numbers of Americans are doing something about it by having plastic surgery. Since 1995, the number of cosmetic procedures, which range from liposuction to facelifts, has almost tripled (English 23). Is that a healthy choice-or a dangerous trend? Aging has become the field of the future for plastic surgeons whose patients have reasons not always valid in the search for youth and beauty.
Many startling statistics surround the topic of plastic surgery. The strong economy of the 1990’s, and the decrease in the average amount of children, is what many credit for the excess income that has allowed for “discretionary spending” on plastic surgery. An opportunity to improve one’s self-image at what seems to be a fair deal. Cosmetic surgery fees, as reported by the Sun-Sentinel, range from a modest six thousand for a complete facelift to a meager five hundred for a partial chemical peel. Once you have completed a consultation with the chief surgeon, or a patient coordinator, a financial arrangement is typically available through some type of assistance program. While women make up most patients, (Neimark 9), men represent 13% of current patients. This trend has been on the rise mainly because of the mainstream acceptance society has of plastic surgery. In addition, the expectations of women are strongly based upon their physical beauty, especially in the workplace. Yet some link the psychological need for an acceptable body image to the fact that plastic surgery helps emphasize the feminine and masculine features that many desire. Is this national obsession with our appearance a new sickness? Looking at the numbers of procedures in recent years shows it must be extremely contagious. Although the types of procedures range in relation to the number of body parts and continues to increase every year, there are three very popular ones. Eyelid surgery ranks first with around 465,000 procedures, followed by 288,000 breast augmentations, and 244,000 facelifts (Gottlieb 3). These numbers are small in comparison to what are called “lunch time” procedures, or ones performed under a local anesthesia and released the after the operation without a hospital stay. Over three million chemical peels and injections along with liposuction operations were performed in 2000 alone (5)! As critic Liz Stuart states, has plastic surgery become “a quest for the ordinary rather than the extraordinary?” (33)
Plastic surgery can control what the future has in store for the aging process. Baby boomers want to look good enough to compete with the younger people. By “reinterpreting what it means to grow old,” (English 16) they can clearly foresee another life ahead of them. Even though they might be fifty years old, inside they can feel twenty years young. Yet, does the line between reality and deceit become blurred by plastic surgery? One can say that society encourages people to hate themselves for being physically imperfect or looking old. Marketing and advertising point in different directions to confuse consumers about whom they really are. Many psychologists question whether there is a genuine person in every human being. “Because of technology we have many different audiences, many more types of people we have to appeal to. All these different groups have different senses of the ideal person, so we have a lot of criteria to meet. We end up being fragmented and emptying out the notion of any core being” (Kaminer 53-56).
Keeping this powerful argument in mind, the only needy patients of plastic surgery are those with serious birth defects, burn victims, or disfigurement. Breakthroughs in artificial skin, tissue expansion, and nerve regeneration have been some advancements to help in the treatment of the most needy patients. The surgeons who perform these surgeries have the goal of providing care, teaching, and researching those in need by seeking ways to address their needs after and before surgery serves as a way to protect and really help them. Constantly, these doctors are searching for ways to accomplish surgery in a more effective manner to benefit the patient. Other areas that many would deem needy plastic surgery patients are dealing with are “skin lesions, head and neck trauma or tumors, or cancer reconstruction which can immediately effect the heath and well being of a victim if not operated on ” (Gottlieb 197).
A lack of medical regulations in the cosmetic surgery system heightens risks in most procedures. Problems within state legislation and the medical society itself can be blamed for issues that arise. Contrary to popular belief, according to Bergal and Schulte, there are “no current standards for training or competence for cosmetic surgeons who operate from private medical offices. Unlike hospitals, private doctors are not required to report complications or patient deaths to the state for review. In addition to this unbelievable fact, the “lunch time” procedures such as liposuction, “haven’t been evaluated by state officials for the safety values” (27). It’s no wonder why difficulty rates are alarming when there is this unestablished system of mass surgery.
“With the unbridled growth has come a sharp rise in patient complications and deaths. Since 1986, at least 34 people have died following plastic surgery around the state; medical examiner and insurance department records have shown. Thirteen people have died between January 1997 and September of last year” (8-11).
Do these statistics prove that an unnecessary procedure has any true benefits?
These facts are startling and vital for a patient to know, yet; some patients don’t get the data from their surgeons to make an educated decision. Patient briefing can often be sketchy. Some pamphlets recite information about complication rates in the most vague of terms, which offers patients the least of guidance. This lack of knowledge only leads to the extraordinary numbers of lawsuits filed against plastic surgeons by their patients. These doctors are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, “which means they have to complete at least five years of surgery training after medical school and pass an examination testing their competence” (Stuart 80). Yet, this certification alone will not guarantee problem-free results. 80% (196) of the claims for injuries are made against board-certified surgeons.
Aging has become the field of the future for plastic surgeons whose patients have reasons not always valid in the search for youth and beauty. This beauty shouldn’t be an achievement that replaces the physiological aspects of becoming older. In spite of mass marketing aiming towards the desirability of looking young, people need to look for the true necessity of cosmetic surgery. Their lives depend on how well they can deal with what everyone has in common, aging. In addition, low qualifications provide little comfort and insurance towards one’s health and life. The bottom line is that a plastic surgery patient is fooling around with what God gave them. They shouldn’t go have any operation unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Bergal, Jenni and Schulte, Fred. “Cosmetic Surgery: Lack of Regulations
Heightens Surgical Risks.” Sun-Sentinel. 30 Nov. 1998.
English, Bella. “He Nipped?She tucked more and more couples are
discovering that Plastic Surgery isn’t just for women anymore.” Boston Globe. 2 April 2001.
Gottlieb, Scott. “Plastic Surgery rockets as baby boomers search for youth and
beauty.” British Medical Journal. 10 Mar. 2001.
Kaminer, Wendy. “American Beauty.” The American Prospect. Princeton. 26
Neimark, Jill. “Change of Face?. Change of Fate.” Psychology Today.
Stuart, Liz. “More and more ordinary people are splashing out on aesthetic
Plastic surgery, but it’s not to be taken lightly.” The Guardian. 17 Feb. 2001.