Time and time again, people fall victim to the insecurity bug, otherwise known as cosmetic surgery. Regardless of whether these insecurities stem from our own, personal perceptions or the hegemonic structure of beauty standards, many people risk their lives to achieve their “ideal” body.
History of Invasive Cosmetics
China began the practice of cosmetic surgery with skin grafts. Over time the technique of China’s skin graft was introduced to the Western world. It was not until the 20th century and the events of the First World War that soldiers needed reconstruction surgeries to mend damages incurred while fighting. These restorative surgeries are most frequently referred to as plastic surgery: a procedure often performed in order to restore the appearance of an affected or damaged part of the body.
In 1962, Dr. Thomas Crolin created a device to implant breasts that were made from silicone. This type of procedure, which is concerned with aesthetic purposes, is what we call cosmetic surgery, though plastic surgery is often used as an umbrella term for both restorative and aesthetic procedures.
Plastic surgery took the world by storm as more people became aware of the possible procedures they could get. By the 1980s, organizations such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) had expanded their efforts to make plastic surgery more accessible to Americans.
Have Cosmetic Surgeries Gone Too Far?
Over the years, people have transformed themselves into their ideals of beauty using cosmetic surgeries. Justin Jedlica is one of the many “Ken Dolls.” He has undergone almost 1,000 procedures to achieve a look akin to Ken, the Barbie doll. Similarly, many women have undergone surgeries to look like Barbie, Jasmin Forrest, Valeria Lukynova, and Jessica Bunny.
Very few people undergo cosmetic surgery with the intent to take on the appearance of someone else. However, many people will undergo these surgeries to enhance or improve their own looks.
According to the ASPS Statistics Report, 2,314,720 cosmetic surgical procedures were performed in 2020. Another 13,281,235 minimally-invasive procedures were performed that same year. The Aesthetic Neural Network (ANN) reported that Americans spent more than $9 billion on aesthetic plastic surgery in 2020.
According to Facebody, two patients out of every 100,000 die from complications of cosmetic surgery. Recently, Jacklyn Smith, 32, died from surgical complications. Ms. Smith was in Miami to undergo a “mommy makeover surgery.”
Mommy makeover surgeries can include breast augmentations, breast reductions, tummy tucks, liposuction, and thigh lifts, among a number of other aesthetic changes. The specific procedures that are completed during a mommy makeover surgery are determined by the patient. In the case of Smith, it is not known what she had done or what caused her death at the moment.
Have Cosmetic Surgeries Become Normalized?
According to the ASPS Statistics Report, the top five surgical procedures of 2020 were nose reshaping, eyelid surgery, facelifts, liposuction, and breast augmentation. These are all procedures that Dr. Miami performs.
Micheal Salzhauer, most commonly known as Dr. Miami, is a notable figure in the plastic surgery game. He opened his own practice in 2003 and became famous after showing his surgical procedures on Snapchat and his television series Dr. Miami.
Many people have become so desperate for these procedures that they are willing to travel internationally for a cheaper alternative. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning regarding certain surgical procedures performed in Matamoros, Mexico. Some patients who had received plastic surgery operations in this area of Mexico were diagnosed with fungal meningitis: an infection that can lead to “severe illness and death,” according to the CDC.
The Mayo Clinic warns that any surgery—plastic and cosmetic surgeries included—comes with certain health risks. These risks may include blood clots, infection, mild bleeding, abnormal scarring, and “numbness and tingling from nerve damage, which may be permanent,” to name just a few potential adverse side effects.
For many people in the transgender community, plastic surgery is “an important step in gender dysphoria treatment,” according to the ASPS. There are a number of surgeries that have been outlined by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) to improve care for individuals afflicted with gender dysphoria. These procedures include—but are not limited to—genital reconstruction, breast augmentation, facial feminization or masculinization, and chest surgery.
While the allure of cosmetic surgery is tempting, people must weigh the risks with the benefits. Plastic surgery often improves the quality of life for those who undergo these procedures—but for many people, it can lead to lifelong complications, pain, and even death.
Before deciding on any operation, it is best to consult with your doctor.