The human desire to appear attractive has been universal ever since mankind can remember. People have been looking for the secret of beauty and youth throughout history and in all parts of the world. Both men and women went through many things to perfect their beauty. Many people consider the desire to be beautiful as a universal issue, but what is often overlooked is that the definition of beauty is always different. Beauty in a way depends on where and when a person is. Since beauty is only a matter of what is beautiful in the eye of the beholder, it depends on one s culture and socialization. The progress in plastic surgery, like in most of the medical discoveries, has grown enormously for hundreds of years. It was not until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that the specialty forged ahead scientifically. Because of the awful injuries it often inflicted on its participants, war was the driving force behind most plastic surgery developments during the late 1800s and early 1900s. In fact it was the war that catapulted plastic surgery into a new and higher realm. Cosmetic plastic surgery is performed in order to change one s appearance and opinions and ideas of it have never stopped growing as well.
Plastic surgery is a medical specialty concerned with the correction or restoration of form and function. For some, it may mean redesigning the body s contour and shape, the elimination of wrinkles, or eliminating balding areas.. While famous for aesthetic surgery, plastic surgery also includes many types of reconstructive surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery, and the treatment of burns. The word “plastic” derives from the Greek plastikos meaning to mould or to shape; not because of its use of plastic in any way.
Reconstructive plastic surgery is performed to correct functional impairments caused by burns; traumatic injuries, such as facial bone fractures; congenital abnormalities; developmental abnormalities; infection and disease; and cancer or tumors. Reconstructive plastic surgery is usually performed to improve function, but it may be done to approximate a normal appearance.
The most common reconstructive procedures are tumor removal, laceration repair, scar repair, hand surgery, and breast reduction. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of reconstructive breast reductions for women increased in 2007 by 2 percent from the year before. Breast reduction in men also increased in 2007 by 7 percent. Some other common reconstructive surgical procedures include breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, cleft lip and palate surgery, contracture surgery for burn survivors, and creating a new outer ear when one is congenitally absent. Plastic surgeons use microsurgery to transfer tissue for coverage of a defect when no local tissue is available. Free flaps of skin, muscle, bone, fat, or a combination may be removed from the body, moved to another site on the body, and reconnected to a blood supply by suturing arteries and veins as small as 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter.
Aesthetic plastic surgery involves techniques intended for the “enhancement” of appearance through surgical and medical techniques, and is specifically concerned with maintaining normal appearance, restoring it, or enhancing it beyond the average level toward some aesthetic ideal. In 2006, nearly 11 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the United States alone. The number of cosmetic procedures performed in the United States has increased over 50 percent since the start of the century. Nearly 12 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2007, with the five most common surgeries being breast augmentation, liposuction, nasal surgery, eyelid surgery and abdominoplasty. The increased use of cosmetic procedures crosses racial and ethnic lines in the U.S., with increases seen among African-Americans and Hispanic Americans as well as Caucasian Americans. In Europe, the second largest market for cosmetic procedures, cosmetic surgery is a $2.2 billion business.
Because human beings have always sought out self-fulfillment through self-improvement, plastic surgery may be one of the world s best solution for this universal problem. According to the Plastic Surgery Information Service, there is written medical evidence that cites medical treatment for facial injuries for over 4000 years. Physicians, in ancient India, were utilizing skin grafts for reconstructive work as early as 800 BC. Furthermore, the driving force behind most plastic surgery development was to repair awful and quite serious war injuries in the 1900 s. There were shattered jaws and blown off noses which required innovative restorative procedures. There was much good news to report to the American people in the post war days of the 1950.
As with other areas of science and medicine, plastic surgery discoveries were happening at break-neck speeds, often derived from innovations tested in hospitals of Korea. Cosmetic surgery took off here after South Korea s spectacular recovery from its currency crisis a few decades ago. Rising living standards allowed ever-growing numbers of men and women to get the wider eyes, whiter skin and higher nose bridges that define beauty for many here. Improved looks were even seen as providing an edge in this high-pressure society s intense competition for jobs, education and marriage partners. But turmoil coursing through the financial world and then into the global economy has hit South Korea hard, as it has many middle-income countries. The downturn drove down the stock market and the currency by a third or more last year, and the resulting anxiety forced many South Koreans to change their habits. In hard times, people always cut back on luxuries like eating out, jewelry and plastic surgery, said one plastic surgeon, Park Hyun, who has seen the number of his patients drop sharply. If this is a normal recession, then these desires will eventually get reignited, and our patients will come back. It is hard to measure the exact size of the industry here or the extent of the current downturn because no one keeps exact figures. From a luxury limited to the wealthy a decade ago plastic surgery has become so common that an estimated 30 percent of Korean women aged 20 to 50, or some 2.4 million women, had surgical or nonsurgical cosmetic procedures last year, with many having more than one procedure. That compares with 11.7 million cosmetic procedures performed last year in the United States, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, meaning that the number of procedures in America is 4.9 times the number in South Korea, though the United States population is more than six times larger.
As the 1960 s began, plastic surgery became even more prominent in the minds of the American public as the scope of procedures performed by surgeons increased, along with many scientific developments. A new substance, silicone, began to emerge as an important tool for doctors. Silicone was initially used to treat skin imperfections and is now overly used as a breast implant device. All parts of the human body, it seemed, could benefit from the skill of the plastic surgeon to perfect the body. Liposuction and breast augmentation are the two most frequently requested cosmetic surgery procedures. Liposuction is a process where fat is sucked out of the body while doctors insert large amounts of salt water, lidocaine, and epinephrine into tissue. These drugs reduce blood loss and provide an anestheis. Various cosmetic surgeries including the facelift, necklift, tummy tuck, and arm and thigh lift surgeries require liposuction. Plastic surgeons say that liposuction is quite safe. But researchers write that liposuction can be fatal, perhaps in part because of lidocaine toxicity of lidocaine-related drug infections. But, there are more risks associated with this operation due to the fact that the fat and its surrounding tissues become dead tissue. If the fat become necrotic from the lack of blood supply the fat tends to turn orange in color and drain from the incision. If this is to occur, the patient must have the tissue removed immediately before an infection spreads. Many doctors agree that liposuction is not the way to loose weight. In actuality not much fat-weight is removed within a single procedure, nor is it safe to do. This operation is meant for people who have serious weight-related heath problems and not just to lose those few last pounds. There was a time when only Hollywood stars had their own plastic surgeon. There was also a time when own a big screen TV or belonging to a health club was an impressive status symbol. But this is a new century, and these days, it is not unnatural for many people to visit a plastic surgeon on occasion.
As medical technologies have boomed over the past two decades, plastic surgery has made incredible advantages in both reconstructing accidental injuries and congenital deformities and in helping erase the marks, wrinkles and sags of encroaching age. Whether it is fixing a portion of the body to make it look normal or improving the normal features of the body to make it look even more aesthetically pleasing, the goal of the plastic surgeon is to help the patients to look and feel good about him or herself. It has seen an amazing growth in popularity in recent years. These days men and women discuss having nose jobs, facelifts, and tummy tucks as if it was normal everyday activity. More importantly there is a rather disturbing underlying issue among us: Why is our society conducting such surgery in the first place? It seems now as we turn through an issue of almost every magazine we see beautiful men and women all with perfect bodies and flawless faces. The issue over Americas poor self esteem and body image explains why so many people are having such cosmetic surgeries; they simple do not live up to society s so-called standards. According to an article published by Today, as any good plastic surgeon will stress, plastic surgery shouldn t be done to impress others but to make you feel good about yourself. More and more people are using cosmetic surgery to improve their self-image rather that other more healthy methods to improve body image or lose weight. Instead of advertising cosmetic surgery as the simple and practical way to become beautiful, our society needs to focus on reality.
Today’s advertisements constantly remind us that wrinkles are now not only unacceptable signs of aging, but are rather simple manifestations that can be prevented and corrected. It seems that this millennium’s fountain of youth is technological and restores youthful appearance with scientific and medical know-how. Statistics show that use of such age-defying measures is growing each year among women and men. Over the course of the twentieth century, improvements in sanitation, healthcare, and nutrition dramatically increased the average lifespan in the United States. At present, it is for the most part taken for granted that an average
American will live beyond the middle years. Americans no longer focus simply on living longer; we want to live better, look better as we age. Science, medicine, and other fields aim to make this goal possible by slowing our biological clocks, fighting the diseases of age, and restoring our sense of youth. Many gerontologists and related practitioners now focus on “positive aging” rather than ugly concept emphasizing the “problems of aging,” with the goal of providing alternative representations of later life and challenging against stereotypes. Indeed, many forces are currently working to alter the experience and image of aging in order to improve what aging feels like as well as what aging looks like.
Plastic surgery possesses a longer history than nonsurgical anti-aging procedures, dating back to the Renaissance at least. Initial increases in plastic surgery were primarily due to the epidemic of syphilis that occurred in Europe in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In twentieth-century America, wartime doctors used cosmetic surgery to remove the marks of battle and allow veterans to pass as the everyday citizens they had been. This practice provided legitimacy to and invoked widespread interest in the benefits of cosmetic surgery.
What began as a situational medical procedure has since become a mass marketed, profit-driven industry. Today’s recipients of plastic surgery undergo the procedures to pass as more sexy, fit, and desirable. In the case of and-aging surgeries, however, individuals alter their appearance to
pass as younger than they are, though of course they can never actually become younger or effect a reversal of the calendar. Many critics argue that recipients of and-aging surgery rarely succeed in passing anyway?they wind up looking “weird” rather than young. Still, statistics show that reducing the signs of aging through cosmetic surgery has become an increasingly popular and profitable. Americans spend near $12.5 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2004 (American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 2004). Of these procedures, two of the top five surgeries in each gender group specifically targeted signs of aging: eyelid surgery and facelift for women, eyelid surgery and hair transplantation for men. People ages 35-50 underwent 45 percent of total procedures, those 51-64 underwent 25 percent (ASAPS, 2004). It seems that many aging Americans believe that looking younger is looking better, and they hope to improve their self-image and enjoy more favorable social outcomes through surgical alteration. Here, surgery passes for self improvement and a viable step in the American pursuit of happiness.
Why do so many Americans feel the need to retain youthful appearances? Changes in economicand employment patterns, the rise of image-based media (TV, film, ads), and the growing significance of consumer identities each contributes to a cultural desire for youth and to negative feelings toward old age.
In a capitalist culture, reflecting a youthful, vital appearance may enable workers to be identified as desirable employees and to retain their corporate value (and jobs) a little longer. Images in the media compound this perceived need to reflect youth. In the case of women, it does not require deep analysis to notice that young models and actresses outnumber
middle-aged and older models and actresses in popular media. Television and film content is filled with women in their 20s and 30s blessed with beauty and romantic opportunities. Representations in lifestyle and beauty advertisements also could lead one to believe that women over the age of 40 have less of a social and romantic life and are not a part of the definition of beauty. In the past few years, talk of plastic surgery has left the privacy of the physician’s office and entered the public domain. Celebrities now openly discuss procedures they have undergone. Entire television series exist around the subject of aesthetic procedures including ABC’S Extreme Makeover and F’iCs Nip/Tuck. Popular networks FOX, Vhi, E!, TLC, and MTV also air programs dedicated to the subject. So-called reality-based programs attempt to provide viewers with a glimpse of “real people” like themselves undergoing plastic surgery and suggest that anyone can do it. With increased representations of aesthetic enhancements and new images of aging, the cultural climate has changed. Looking young is looking good, and technologically or surgically achieving a younger look is socially acceptable. Under such cultural conditions, who would want to look “old,” and why should one not use the technologies available to “enhance” his or her aging appearance?
Americans do not always trust the messages of the media, but they do trust the opinions and recommendations of their healthcare providers. Physicians could tell older people that they look just fine, that a change in appearance with aging is normal and acceptable and to go home. But if they do, they may disappoint their patients or, more personally, sacrifice profit from out-of-pocket procedures and product sales. Some physicians contend that if they can help a patient “feel better” through aesthetic changes, it is just cause and falls within their job description. In this view, feeling better about aging is indeed aging positively, and this is the ultimate goal?even if it means changing what aging looks like.
Plastic surgery has been, and always will continue to be, a controversial subject in many ways. Plastic surgery has become increasingly common today for a variety of reasons, and countless individuals are consulting cosmetic surgeons with the hopes of looking the way they have always dreamed of looking. Reconstructive surgery is a wonderful gift to those born with birth defects, or those scarred or maimed by an accident of some sort. Today however, the increasing trend of plastic surgery is leaning toward the cosmetic factor. Plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries all have an important psychological dimension in the U.S. Many people in Western societies place a great deal of importance on physical importance. Plastic surgery can effect an individual s emotional state tremendously. It is easy to have the breasts you want, to have smoother skin, to have extra fat removed from your stomach and thighs, and to have numerous other body parts augmented or amended. The physical effects of plastic surgery are truly amazing. Many people claim that their lives have changed for the better because of cosmetic surgical enhancements. These enhancements have restored their confidence and created a brand new self-image for them. They actually feel better, and doesn t that make it worth it? There are drawbacks, however. While reconstructive surgery gives people the chance to look what is deemed normal again, doesn t cosmetic surgery teach us that, for the most part, looks are the most important physical aspect in our society? From this aspect, the emotional effects of plastic surgery on society can be harrowing. What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see yourself or do you see the results of modern day surgery? Plastic surgery has given people the opportunity to change their entire appearance, and has taken the word “makeover” to a whole new height. It seems that everywhere you go people are using plastic surgery to change their physical appearance. Although this may sound great, the truth behind all the hype isn’t so wonderful. Many of the unfortunate few that see the downsides of plastic surgery can not do anything to fix their situation.
Besides looking at the defects that plastic surgery can cause physically, you must also examine the defects of it from a moral aspect. Do you believe that it is morally right to change the body that God gave you, and to transform that into something you’re not? One of the great things about the human race is that there is no one person exactly like yourself, so why do you want to throw away your ability to be who you are, to be someone your not? Finally, the most common reason to go through with this procedure is to make yourself look good, and to try to make others like you. The truth of the matter, however, is that if someone only likes you because of you “bought” appearance then they don’t actually like you, they merely like the results of present day plastic surgery. Instead of worrying about your outside appearance you should concern yourself more with what you are like on the inside rather than what you are like on the outside. Even though plastic surgery may make you look good physically, you can’t put a price on true beauty, the beauty that comes from within.
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