Is it Really Worth it?
At a young age, girls and boys start to play with Barbie and Ken dolls who have the perfect body structure that the media portrays and praises every day. We are taught that they have the perfect ideal body type: fit, tall, extremely thin, beautiful hair, and perfect face features. We grow up thinking that we want to be just like them, just like a factory-made doll. Cosmetic altering has now become a solution to this problem. Men and women who struggle with insecurities and body issues now have a way to temporarily satisfy their self-perfecting hungry minds. Breast augmentations, Botox, butt lifts, rhinoplasties, lip fillers, abdominoplasty, and liposuction all come with many risks that include: addiction, unsafe and illegal procedures, a large chance of being botched, and even mortality. These risks bring on the question that every person who is considering plastic surgery should ask themselves: is it worth it?
Cosmetic procedures have become a norm for anyone that feels as if they do not fit the standards of beauty and deals with the constant scrutiny of their own self-image. A change in physical appearance does not create a solution to the real problem: the psychological issue that self-scrutiny brings. After their first surgery, a patient is 85% more likely to start a behavioral addiction, or to keep getting more procedures (Samuels). This dependency becomes necessary to feel suitable for their changing confidence. The obsession then turns to a body condition called body dysmorphic disorder. BDD is present when a person constantly perceives a part of their body as unattractive even when outsiders see them as very appealing (Samuels). Body dysmorphia sounds like an issue we all suffer from, but in reality, it only occurs in people who find something new unappealing or wrong with their physique every single day. Mania consumes over these people’s daily lives, and takes away any chance at living a normal life.
Along with not undertaking the actual psychological affair at hand, the chances of being botched are extremely high. These surgeries rage in price from about $2475.00 to $15,100 (Steinbrech). Because of these high costs, many men and women decide to go to other countries such as Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina for a cheaper alternative. These countries do not have regulations and laws ensuring the safety of the patient. Patients then return and suffer tremendously from unwanted results infection, or botched results, internal bleeding, higher chance of blood clots, and allergic reactions, all of which, if not treated right away, can lead to death (Donohoe). Many times, these botched procedures are not fixable. A botched face could mean a lifetime of uncomfortable social situations.
Taking the dangerous concrete effects of unsafe procedure away, leaves an even more serious abstract issue. Psychologist, Tilmann M Von Soest, conducted a 13 yearlong study on over 78 female patients who decided to undergo cosmetic surgery. His results concluded:
“Symptoms of depression and anxiety and a history of deliberate self-harm, parasuicide and illicit drug use predicted prospective cosmetic surgery. Moreover, those who underwent surgery during the course of the study experienced a greater increase than other females in symptoms of depression and anxiety and eating problems. Patients’ use of alcohol also increased more than among non-patients.”
For most women, getting a procedure done is a rite of passage. But unknowingly, it can be the most dangerous and detrimental influencer to your life, causing serious damage to your health and ways of thinking. This also sets a bad example for the younger generations, causing them to want the same thing that they watch their moms, or their idols, do.
Peer pressure has become an important governing reason as to why most adolescence decide to go under the knife. Bullying is very common in grade school through to high school and is the leading cause of teenage suicide. Children grow up hating themselves, or features that make them unique and special due to the fact that the kids around them convince them they are “ugly” or “not good enough.” It is a parent’s duty to lift their child’s self-esteem to the best of their ability. In many cases, the parents decide the best thing they can do is allow their child to have a life threating surgery or to “children shape” (Outlette). In the last 20 years, adolescent teenagers have become the most common case when getting a rhinoplasty, or a nose reconstructive surgery. (Nowicki) This teaches children at a young age that what features they were born with are not good enough. They grow up to be critical of all their natural physical features, and have a constant struggle with self-esteem and “fitting in”.
Children and women are not the only demographic affected by these procedures. At this day and age, it has become more acceptable for men to receive cosmetic surgery. These surgeries include: neck lifts, rhinoplasties, liposuction, and chin augmentations (Lucas). According to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the number of cosmetic procedures for men has increased by more than 106% between 1997 and 2012. The motives behind these surgeries are differentiate from women, Dr. Steinbrech explains:
“In a marketplace where looking fit, younger, and more masculine is imperative, the better you look, the better your chances of ascending the corporate ladder.”
The cleaner and put together a business man looks, the more likely a client is to trust him over the aged, wrinkled, and dad-like man in the building next door. Dr. Steinbrech states that there are 4 different types of men looking for cosmetic procedures. The “CEO” or “Board Member” man is looking for a necklift, an eyelift, jawline recontouring, and liposuction as well. The “Athletic Dad” is explained to be the banker who has gained over 15 pounds and is looking for youth again. They typically receive liposuction and an eyelift. The “Body Builder” and the “Male Model” are looking to go big. The goal is a big chest and big glutes, but muscularly defined. They undergo high def liposuction, jawline contouring, fat transfer, necklifts, eyelifts, and cheekbone enhancements. This is no different from a typical procedure on a woman. They are both for the satisfaction of knowing how others around them perceive them as normal or a fit to be person.
Diseases like cancer effect both men and women every single day. According to the American Cancer Society, about 5.4 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. These patients typically go through a lumpectomy surgery, or a procedure to remove a cancerous tumor. In most cases, this leaves the patient with a visible deformity and with 2 options. The patient can keep their visible deformity, or they can go through one or more surgeries to bring back their features to what they once were. This is called therapeutic surgery, and is the reason why cosmetic surgery is available (Therapeutic Surgery). Therapeutic surgery serves a higher purpose, as to aesthetic surgery, that has a sole purpose of boosting ones self-esteem and self-image.
It is easy to understand that people to want to look good. It is even easier to decide to fix the physical qualities that someone has been given. However, the real solution to this problem is to fix the societal view surrounding these people. If we, as human beings, come to the realization that we were born the way we were, and accept that, no one would need to change their physical appearance. It is also important to accept the people around you. When someone does not fit our personal definition of perfection, they are criticized and instantly seen as not good enough. We believe that they need to change to fit what we see as attractive. A simple necklift or eyelift will not change this. The change need not to be in physical features, but in the way we accept and think about other people around us. To go to any extreme and put your own life in danger just for the way your self-image is perceived is absurd. Because the fact of the matter is, it is not worth it.
American Cancer Society. “Skin Cancer Facts.” Skin Cancer Facts, Cancer.org, 20 Apr. 2016, www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/sunanduvexposure/skin-cancer-facts.
Donohoe, Martin. “Women’s Health in Context: Cosmetic Surgery Past, Present, and Future: Scope, Ethics, and Policy.” Medscape OB/GYN, www.medscape.com/viewarticle/542448_2.
“Fresh Faces.” Medicine, Health, and Bioethics: Essential Primary Sources, edited by K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, Gale, 2006, pp. 408–411. Opposing Viewpoints in Context,link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3456500154/OVIC?u=ranc95197&xid=e04ffbbc. Accessed 4 Dec. 2016.
Lucas, MD Jay. “Most Commonly Requested Plastic Surgery For Men.” American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Plasticsurgery.org, 26 Aug. 2015, www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/most-commonly-requested-plastic-surgery-for-men.
Nowicki. T, n.d. “From Peer Pressure to Plastic Surgery: Why More and More Teens May be Opting to Go Under the Knife.” The Children, www.thechildren.comHhealth#infoHconditions#and#illnessesHpeer#pressure#plastic#surgery#why#more#and#more#teens#
Ouellette, Alicia. “Cosmetic Surgery Is Used to Alter Ethnic Characteristics.” The Culture of Beauty. Ed. Roman Espejo. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Eyes Wide Open: Surgery to Westernize the Eyes of an Asian Child.” Hastings Center Report (Jan.-Feb. 2009): 15–18. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow?disableHighlighting=true&displayGroupName=Viewpoints&currPage=&scanId=&query=&prodId=OVIC&search_within_results=&p=OVIC&mode=view&catId=&limiter=&display-query=&displayGroups=&contentModules=&action=e&sortBy=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ3010659217&windowstate=normal&activityType=&failOverType=&commentary=true&source=Bookmark&u=ranc95197&jsid=8ff988080e934dea536990111a9bc9ac
Samuels , Dr. Howard. “Plastic Surgery Addiction.” Plastic Surgery Addiction, 2011, drhowardsamuels.com/addiction-guide/plastic-surgery/.
Soest, Tilmann M von; Kvalem, Lundin, Ingela & Wichstrøm, Lars (2012). Predictors of cosmetic surgery and its effects on psychological factors and mental health: a population-based follow-up study among Norwegian females. Psychological Medicine. ISSN 0033–2917. 42(3), s 617- 626 . doi: 10.1017/S0033291711001267 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21781375
Steinbrech, Douglas. “Which Type Are You?” Male Plastic Surgery, 2016, maleplasticsurgerynewyork.com/.