It is said that beauty is God-given. That beauty is naturally inherited. It’s all in the genes. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some are said to have won the DNA lottery. These are all words used to describe how beauty is found within a person. The truth is that we are all born with average looks. Nobody is ever born ugly. Instead, we are all born with unique looks that set us apart from others around us. In some people, these looks may be so striking that it holds others in awe upon seeing them. Sadly, that is how true beauty is judged in these modern times.
For those average Joe’s and Jane’s who are constantly bombarded by the idea of beauty through advertising, airbrushed pictures in magazines, and celebrities who have hordes of assistants who help them come out looking very polished and glamorous, such images can lead to low if not a demolished sense of self-esteem. These are the kinds of people who turn to scientific advances to change, enhance, or add to their looks to look like their personal idea of beauty. According to Dolnick (2011) “American pop culture, they say, has strongly influenced how immigrants and their children believe they should look, and reality television shows like “Bridalplasty” have encouraged surgical solutions.”
Medical science is of course, happy to oblige such insecurities. Plastic surgery and surgical enhancement procedures are huge, if not the biggest, money-makers of the medical industry today. It seems that people will pay any amount, even go into debt, just to be able to achieve a sense of aesthetic beauty. But just like all medical procedures and scientific developments, these processes have both advantages and disadvantages. These are the 2 sides that will be dealt with within the next few pages.
Let’s start with the advantages. There are only 2 reasons that a person would want to alter what is already natural in his physique. The first being, a need to improve the sense of one’s self and the other, and often not the major reason for such scientific enhancements, is medical.
Medical processes that alter our looks have also been proven to medically alter our state of mind. We are all born with the automatic ability to accept the way we look each time we look in the mirror. That face that we see each time we see our reflection is the embodiment of the best and worst of our parents, from whom we inherited our looks. Therefore, we are genetically wired to accept our features on an as-is-where-is basis. We may not be satisfied with what we see all the time, but that is who we are. However, with the help of various medical processes, we now can alter the way we look to achieve “the perfect look”. All it takes to fix these (imagined) problems is a quick snip and stitch from a plastic surgeon. Sometimes, it does not even require such invasive processes. All it takes now is usually a medical syringe filled with a wonder drug that does the job. For some people, being unable to achieve these changes to their natural looks poses a problem. For instance, women who see their noses as too big but do not have the money to have the size reduced medically tend to end up depressed and unhappy with themselves. Such kinds of reasoning prove that any surgical enhancements done to a person’s body are purely for personal reasons which are influenced by the beauty images portrayed before the person electing to have the procedures done.
The past decade has seen a rapid improvement in cosmetic surgery science. It has become safer, affordable for most (since some procedures can be done on an installment basis), and hugely popular as we continue to face a continuously aging segment of our population. Time seems to have stopped for most people as nobody seems to be advancing in age and physical development (as far as the eye can see at least) has slowed down as the aging process now seems to all be in the hands of qualified cosmetic surgeons. Aging gracefully no longer exists because it does not seem to happen anymore.
According to an online article on the medical website WebMd (2011) ” Like nearly all fields, cosmetic surgery has undergone significant technological and conceptual changes in recent years. The conceptual changes have altered the approaches to facial aging, especially as they relate to the forehead, eyelids, and lower face. Technological changes include the increasing use of the laser for facial cosmetic surgery, and minimally invasive techniques for the face, breast, and body contouring surgery.”
Women who are advancing in their years often turn to Botox to slow down or even suspend, the signs of aging within their cheeks and foreheads. Wrinkles, crows feet, frown lines get ironed out within a matter of minutes. The effects lasting for months on end physically.
Losing weight to gain bodily curves no longer means having to endure painful gym exercises. A simple visit to the doctor for Liposuction sucks out all of the unwanted fat within the body. Follow that up with a body sculpting procedure of your choice and you finally have the curves that can put Angelina Jolie to shame within a matter of months.
In her article “Plastic Surgery: Beauty or Beast?” Dittmann (2005) provided the following statistics “The number of cosmetic procedures increased by 44 percent from 2003 to 2004, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Plastic surgeons conducted a record 11.9 million procedures last year, including nonsurgical procedures like Botox and surgical procedures like breast augmentation or liposuction”. Plastic surgeons alter our genetic make-up using these procedures. We willingly allow these changes to happen, willing our system to accept these foreign bodies as part of our natural process. Never realizing that these unnatural alterations to our natural looks come at the cost of our mental, physical, and sometimes, medical well being as well.
Our physical make-up is designed to follow a specific and natural maturing and then the aging process. By choosing to undergo elective surgery, we either force the development or force the slow-down of certain natural biological processes within that particular system. For example, a teenager who has an elective nose job risks having medical problems related to breathing later on as the medical procedure begins to interfere with the natural development of the nose. It is important to remember that cosmetic procedures do not stop the natural development of a person, it merely enhances or retards it. A teenage woman who chooses to have breast enhancements early in life will face a larger risk of breast cancer and enhancement related post-operation complications that if she just left her naturally given assets untouched.
We need to spread the word about the potential disadvantages of plastic surgery so that people make educated decisions before undergoing the knife. Let us never forget that any alterations were done are permanent and come with lifelong responsibilities or consequences. Once your face or breasts are altered, you are no longer the same person who entered that operating room.
The slightest error on the doctor’s part could result in a permanent disfigurement problem where there was none before. More intrusive procedures gone wrong could be complicated with infections, even leave the patient paralyzed for life. Breast implants have the highest rate of operation errors as the implants when inserted improperly, cause leaks which lead to fatal diseases or cancer later on.
I do not believe that medical enhancements of one’s natural features for reasons other than medical should be deemed as advantageous for the person having the alteration done. If one is born with say a deviated septum (an imperfection of the nose that prevents proper breathing through the nostrils.), then go ahead and have a Rhinoplasty. No sense in eventually suffocating yourself. Or perhaps you were born with a Cleft Palate? Then reconstructive surgery is definitely in the cards for you. But otherwise, due to the possible medical and psychological complications involved in having such types of surgery done, it would be best to leave well enough alone.
In the coming years, we will see more and more innovations appearing in the world of beauty-enhancing procedures. These will all be welcomed with joy by those who believe that they need the “natural” enhancers. So perhaps the time will come when these types of surgeries will become a part of our lives instead of an incidental elective procedure. The time will probably come when we will no longer be able to tell the difference between a person who has had plastic surgery done or not done. As the technology to alter our appearances without highly invasive procedures is slowly perfected, we will begin to see even more natural-looking results in their final products. But will the advantages of such procedures have outweighed the disadvantages? Or will we simply face more and newer complications that will pose increasingly medical threats to the lives of those who took part in the process? I believe that these procedures will only further increase the capacity of man to be unhappy with his natural assets and as such, will continue to impact his life negatively. Advances in science will not change our lives. It can only help enhance it through properly thought out and accomplished plastic surgeries. elective surgeries are not the solution to natural imperfections one may have. Such aesthetic changes make a difference only if we know that the self-confidence and sense of well being comes from deep within us instead. Society these days has fuelled the need for people to undergo plastic surgery by equating it with success in life. We need to refocus the importance of plastic surgery from the eye candy that it provides us, towards the actual, more productive uses within the medical world.
No matter how we look at it, there seems to be a tremendous amount of positive sides to having plastic surgery done to enhance one’s outer beauty. But, that does not mean that natural beauty should be rejected and altered with elective procedures just to “enhance” what is already beautiful in the first place.
Choosing Cosmetic Surgery. WebMD. Web.
Dittman, Melissa. (2005). Plastic Surgery: Beauty Or Beast? American Psychological Association. 36(8): 30.
Dolnick, Sam. (2011). Ethnic Differences Emerges in Plastic Surgery. New York Times. Web.