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Vishal Thakkar, a New Yorker living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, got divorce in 2006. The divorce lowered his self esteem and he decided to “do something selfish” (Thakkar). He made an appointment to see Angelo Cuzalina, who happened to be the 2011 President of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.
Thakkar decided to get a rhinoplasty to bring up his self confidence. After the first surgery he was suffering some breathing problems that was causing him to have problems exercising and sleeping. Between 2006 and 2007, Thakkar had eight surgical interventions before returning to New York. On 2011, Thakkar went back to Tulsa for more surgeries. He was put to sleep in order for the surgeon to work on his nose.
By the time he woke up his nose was completely gone. Dr. Cuzalina told Thakkar that “there was an infection” (2011) and since he was on the table he had to make a decision. Since this incident happened, Vishal Thakkar has been covering his face with medical masks. His self esteem is now on the floor. Thakkar stated “ There is no way I am going to live like this. It is worse than being dead”. Experts have divided opinions about whether or not enhancement plastic surgeries should be performed so openly.
One may think that aesthetic surgeries are procedures that has recently started to be performed to help patients to boost their self esteem, but in reality these kind of interventions have been performed since the year 800 AC in India.
According to Charles Tipton, Professor of the Department of Physiology at the University of Arizona, “Ancient India used skin grafts for facial reconstruction”. This procedure was an innovation used by Sushruta. Charles Tipton refers to Sushruta as the father of Surgery. Sushruta wrote several texts related to surgical interventions.
For several centuries, India was well known for its reconstructive surgical methods. Joseph Carpue, a british physician, spent 20 years in India to learn their methods. According to hematologist and medical journalist Stephen Lock, in 1815, Carpue was the first person to perform and succeed to do a rhinoplasty.
The plastic surgery revolution occurred during the Civil War. According to R. Backstein, B. Sc. and A. Hinek, M. Sc., as a consequence of the war, many soldiers were disfigured and Dr. Gurdon Buck performed 32 plastic operations to reconstruct the soldiers faces. Gurdon Buck is now considered the father of modern plastic surgery.
On 1920, the American Society of Plastic Surgery was founded by Dr. J. Maliniac and Dr. G. Aufricht, as stated on the website of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. By 1930, the ASPS was able to create the American Board of Plastic Surgery, which role is to license physicians that qualify and meet the requirements to practice as plastic surgeons.
The ASPS continued to grow and in 1946, Dr. G. Aufricht launched the first edition of the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Paul Schnur, MD (ASPS historian and former ASPS president), said “the journal has been used by surgeons to spread their knowledge and discoveries”. This journal is meant to be from surgeons to surgeons.
The 1960s became the decade were many scientific developments occurred. One of these discoveries was a new element, Silicone. At first, it was used to correct skin imperfections, but since it could be manufactured in different forms ranging from liquid to solid, Thomas Cronin, MD, began to used the gel form of Silicon to do breast implants. It became popular in society.
During mid 1970s and 1990s, a chain of negative events occurred and the usage of Silicon was affected. According to ASPS historian, Pamela Hait, the Food and Drug Administration got permission to regulate medical devices. Therefore, the FDA, turned silicon breast implants a level III device, forcing manufacturers to perform and provide scientific reports about the safety of breast implants.
In 1990, journalist Connie Chung made a report about the “horrors of breast implant”. This report sparked a wave of concern between women. the societies’ concern had an impact on the FDA. The FDA, announced that breast implants would be only available to women needing breast reconstruction. In other words, optional silicone breast implant was not available to the public.
Saline breast implants became the option for women but its popularity was not as good as the silicone due to the lack of natural feeling. In 2002, Botox, a non-invasive kind of plastic surgery, was approved by the FDA. Twelve years after Silicone was banned, the FDA approved to return silicon implants.
Recent multi-procedural statistics released by the ASPS shows that since 1997 the popularity of plastic surgery has increased 250%. The study shows that in 2012, the most popular procedures in ranking were breast augmentation, followed by liposuction, tummy tucks, eyelid surgery and rhinoplasty. 90% of all procedures were performed on women.
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Top 3 cosmetic procedures for women were: breast augmentation, liposuction, and tummy tuck. On the other hand, men conform the other 10% of all procedures done during 2012. Top 3 cosmetic procedures for men were: liposuction, rhinoplasty, and eyelid surgery.
Robert Rey is one of the most famous plastic surgeons in the USA. He stars in a reality show Dr 90210 and performs numerous procedures (Cassimatis, 2007). Dr. Rey believes that the world has always been preoccupied with beauty.
He says, “Nothing changed in 2000 years . [i]n Asia they used to bind girls feet and here I am stuffing silicone balloons inside women’s chests” (Cassimatis, 2007, p. 78). Dr. Rey also believes that people want to be happy and being beautiful is one of the ways to become happy. He claims, “My goal is to make the patient happy with the least amount of damage” (Cassimatis, 2007, p. 79).
Dr. Gregory R.D. Evans is one of the most successful plastic surgeons in the US. He is currently the President of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Dr. Evans believes that plastic surgery is really important as it helps numerous people become satisfied with their life.
However, the surgeon also stresses that the field is overwhelmed with a variety of myths which can negatively affect people’s attitude towards the plastic surgery. He claims, “It’s my job to try to clear up the myths and make sure each patient is clear about the benefits and risks” (“Gregory R.D. Evans,” n.d.). Dr. Evans insists on being professional and truthful as he thinks that it is crucial for the patient to know the outcomes of the surgery.
Dr. Evans states that people do not know what exactly they want and why they want to undergo the procedure. Thus, they do not know what to expect from the procedure. This is what leads to dissatisfaction and further problems. He adds, “I prefer an educated patient – one who has done some homework before we meet” (“Gregory R.D. Evans,” n.d.).
Canice E. Crerand, Ph.D., Martin E. Franklin, Ph.D. and David B. Sarwer, Ph.D are professionals in the field of psychiatry. They claim that plastic surgery leads to life satisfaction and better psychological state even in BBD patients (excluding cases of severe BBD symptoms).
Canice et al. (2006, p. 176) argue that “cosmetic treatments may benefit some persons with body dysmorphic disorder”. The researchers conducted a profound research and found that “[c]osmetic treatments in conjunction with appropriate psychiatric care may prove to be an effective treatment combination for body dysmorphic disorder” (Canice et al., 2006, p. 176).
Joan Rivers is a famous Hollywood actress. She became popular in the 1960s and she has been in the spotlight since then. The celebrity is 80 this year. She has also confessed that she is a surgery addict. She has undergone more than 700 surgeries and she is not going to stop.
She claims that she believes in plastic surgery as it helps her be the person she wants to be. Joan Rivers often attends surgery clinics. She always wants to look better and to have something done. She is eager to change as often as possible. She says, “Every weekend I just go in and I do something” (Stephenson, 2013).
It is noteworthy that her surgeon tries to persuade her that she does not need more surgeries. However, the celebrity keeps coming and asking for new procedures. Joan Rivers does not think there is anything about her addiction. She wants to look nice and be as attractive as any other celebrity in Hollywood. Besides, Rivers stresses that she is not the only one to resort to plastic surgery. She notes, “I have done what everyone does in California” (Stephenson, 2013).
Those in opposition of plastic surgery and it’s recoil include support from a medical doctor of psychology, an infamous feminist, a Jewish scholar, and famous actresses. Vivian Diller, Ph.D. was a professional dancer and model in her adolescence. She chose instead to pursue a career as a psychologist. Diller has served as a media expert on many shows including NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN discussing the topic of women and aging.
Furthermore, she has been published in a number of magazines and newspapers including Oprah, Forbes, and LA Times Daily and published her own book called Face It: What Women Really Feel As Their Looks Change, which explores the emotional changes women experience as their physical appearance changes. Plastic surgery is often advertised as a way for people to “fix” their insecurities, but in recent studies, that is not seeming to be the outcome.
Diller (2012) reports, “A growing number of women in my practice express frustration for having paid dearly, both financially and emotionally, for procedures that leave them feeling uncomfortable and insecure.” Instead of helping women becoming more comfortable in their own skin, plastic surgery is making women feel increasingly unlike themselves and regretful that they changed their natural appearance.
This out-of-body feeling is presenting itself to satisfied and dissatisfied patients alike. “Even women who feel surgery changed their lives or those who are simply satisfied with the results often say they were not prepared for the physical and psychological ups and downs involved in the whole process” (Diller, 2012). Plastic surgery is not a quick fix for insecurities, it is a mask for much deeper psychological issues.
Yale graduate and outspoken feminist Naomi Wolf is also a firm believer in leaving a woman’s body natural. She has been featured in a number of publications including The New Republic, Wall Street Journal, Glamour, Ms., Esquire, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. She is a group speaker across the nation and has written several books, including The Beauty Myth, which address plastic surgery as a much more serious issue then it is made to be in today’s day and age.
Wolf believes that the plastic surgeons sugar coat the realities of surgery to the patients (1991, pg. 257). She voices that, “Surgery changes one forever, the mind as well as the body” (1991, pg. 257). Many see plastic surgery as a physical change to strive for physical perfect so that in turn emotional hiatus can be reached, instead of simply being satisfied with what we are given in the physical form.
She expresses, “If we don’t start to speak of it as serious, the millennium of the man-made woman will be upon us, and we will have had no choice” (1991, pg. 257). In contrast to the idea that plastic surgery can take “The Ugly Duckling” and make her into the “Swan Princess” in just an hour on the television series The Swan, Wolf sees these surgeries as life and body altering, not just a quick and easy fix.
Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg is a very well renowned Rabbi in the Jewish community and is the author of a multivolume set of responses dealing mostly with medical issues and Jewish law called Tzitz Eliezer. Rabbi Waldenberg believe that surgery should not be performed on anyone if the patient is not in pain or ill.
In Eisenberg’s article Judaism and cosmetic surgery, he expresses Rabbi Waldenberg’s opinion, “He argues that such activities are outside the boundaries of the physician’s mandate to heal (since he questions whether cosmetic surgery is truly included in the category of healing)” (2006).
According to Jewish law, surgery should only be used for healing the body and a physician should only be willing to perform a surgery that is healing to the patient. He further explains that a patient should not even ask a physician to inflict pain on themselves for personal gain.
This idea is against the religious views that Rabbi Waldenberg restates, “God creates each person in His image, exactly as he or she should be, with nothing extra nor anything lacking. He therefore posits that cosmetic surgery that is not for pain or true illness is an affront to God and is forbidden” (Eisenberg, 2006). According to Rabbi Waldenberg, plastic surgery is unacceptable and intolerable in the eyes of God.
British actress, Academy Award Winner, and shining star of the 1997 tragedy, Titanic, Kate Winslet, also known as “The Golden Girl” is an icon in the movie industry for her beauty and elegance (Vallely, 2009). Winslet, along with a few of her other movie star friends, Rachel Weisz And Emma Thompson, have taken a stand and formed the Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League because they prefers to look natural and age gracefully.
In the Huffington Post, journalist Ellie Krupnick (2011) quoted Winslet “I will never give in… [Cosmetic surgery] goes against my morals, the way that my parents brought me up and what I consider to be natural beauty.” Instead of succumbing to the pressures of fame, fortune, and the want most celebrities posses to look younger as each birthday passes, Winslet simply wants to be in her own skin and is comfortable all the while.
In addition, Krupnick explains that, “Winslet, famous for her curvy, womanly physique, argued that she was raised to appreciate ‘natural beauty’ and doesn’t want, as an actress, to have cosmetic surgery or botox ‘freeze the expression’ of her face” (Hutchison, 2011). Not only does she want to be natural for herself and her own morals, she feels that it is necessary to remain natural in that industry for her to put out her best possible work.
To sum up, it is possible to note that plastic surgery has been a burning issue for decades. Notably, it came into existence as the means of diminishing consequences of a variety of injuries in the second part of the 19th century. At present, many people resort to it to remove consequences of injuries or various disorders. However, the popularity of plastic surgery has increased significantly since the late 20th century.
Women as well as men strive for better looks. They claim that changes in their appearance can make them happier and more satisfied with their life. Nonetheless, there are those who argue that plastic surgery cannot be a solution to emotional problems as it only masks real issues. Many people claim that it is against moral rules and different religious beliefs to alter the human body.
Admittedly, there are opposing views on the matter even though it seems opponent of plastic surgery are winning the struggle. Development of medicine and technology has enabled people to address a variety of issues related to health. In many cases, plastic surgery is the only way out, but many people abuse it. At any rate, the use of plastic surgery is the matter of choice and morality. Each person should make his/her choices.
However, it is crucial to remain responsible, sensible and moral. The ongoing debate on the matter suggests that the society is torn between the two camps. However, the discussion can also make people understand that they need to focus on development of their souls rather than on artificial improvements of their bodies. Development is a hard work which leads to improvement in the entire human society. The ongoing debate will help people understand this.
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