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Plastic Surgery: A Good or a Bad Idea? Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1176

Essay

Plastic surgery is generally the field of surgery which is concerned with reducing scarring or disfigurement, or the reconstruction of a part of the body. There are two types of plastic surgery; reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery (“Plastic Surgery”, 2005). Reconstructive surgery is when a patient undergoes a procedure to reduce disfigurement which may have occurred as a result of an accident, or a birth defect (Hartman, 2005). Cosmetic surgery, the more widely known type of plastic surgery, is for those who choose to go through a surgical procedure for vanity purposes completely unrelated to any medical conditions, and example for this would be Rhinoplasty – to change the shape of the nose. This type of surgery was first developed in the field of medicine by Dr. Harold Delf Gillies (“Plastic Surgery”, 2005). It was in 1918 when he became the first physician specializing in plastic surgery.

“I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers—their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions; but how was I terrified, when I viewed myself in a transparent pool! At first I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced that I was in reality the monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification” (Shelly, 1818). This was a quote from the creature in the novel Frankenstein. It reflects on people’s narcissism, or love for their image. You can blame it on the mirror, or blame society, all we know is that a lot of people judge each other in accordance of aesthetic or physical image (Blum, 2005). This is the reason why plastic surgery is a booming business, especially with today’s celebrity culture. Today, cosmetic surgery is a social phenomenon more popularly in the United States. According to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), nearly 8.4 million people underwent plastic surgery in the year 2003 (Blum, 2005). And, until today, the numbers of patients in the cosmetic surgery field are increasing. This has been such a phenomenon that there are television programs devoted to cosmetic surgery, such as Fox’s The Swan or ABC’s Extreme Makeover (Cho, 2007). These shows physically transform ordinary people through surgical and non-surgical cosmetic surgeries (Blum, 2005). Many people undergo cosmetic surgery for the tucks, pulls, squeezes and implants. There is this need to be “better” in accordance to what people perceive society is portraying as “better”. Cosmetic surgery is referred to by many critics as the “ultimate invasion of the human body”, and all this is done for the sake of beauty (Blum, 2003). Many women go through astounding lengths to change their current body or image to conform to what they believe is attractive. Plastic surgery is not merely controlling one’s body, it goes beyond that. It is being obsessed with physical appearance, which goes further than what we see (Gimlin, 2002). This all lies behind the emotions of the procedure. Cosmetic surgery has been attacked by a lot of critics. Not only by feminists who believe that it is demeaning to women, but also people who believe that the cost of beauty is just too ridiculously expensive, with a breast augmentation costing approximately $3,000 per patient. Even Dr. Gillies, the ambassador of plastic surgery stated “Often while lifting a face I have a feeling of guilt that I am merely making money” (“Plastic Surgery”, 2005). When one does not like a body part, cosmetic surgery can quickly be considered as a solution. Because of this convenience, many people acquire an addiction for cosmetic surgery. These people who develop an addiction to surgery cannot stop at one cosmetic procedure, they end up changing multiple aspects of their body, some even accumulating debts due to the costs of surgery (Friedling, 2000). These people are the ones who can never be satisfied with their own physical image, and turn to cosmetic surgery for an answer.

Plastic surgery is more known for its celebrity culture of cosmetology. Not a lot of people know that sometimes plastic surgery goes in deeper than the shallow way we perceive it to be. It is the limited information we have on the topic which quickly makes us believe that it is just the result of vanity which makes people quickly jump to the resolution of plastic surgery. A lot of people are self-conscious, and would want to change how they look, however there are those individuals who suffer more than that. Some people shy away from social contact because they suffer from physical disfigurements, and this hinders them from the opportunity to become an active member in their community (Magee & Magee, 2000). There is an organization called Operation Smile, which is a private, non-profit volunteer medical-service organization which helps children regain their smiles through reconstructive surgery. This organization was first conceptualized by Dr. William Magee and his wife, Kathleen Magee. They visited the Philippines in 1981 and were astonished by the number of children with facial deformities. This insight inspired Kathleen, who was a clinical social worker to organize teams of medical assistants to return to the Philippines and offer their medical aide after raising funds in the United States through bake sales, solicitations and donations (Magee & Magee, 2000). Not only can reconstructive surgery recover patients’ smiles from birth defects, but it can also restore those who have encountered terrible accidents. Burn and trauma victims did not only suffer from the scars of their accident, but the emotional damage of knowing that their original physical self has been destroyed (Hartman, 2005). Through reconstructive surgery of skin/facial transplant, burn victims are given psychological relief through an improvement in their aesthetic condition.

Plastic surgery is not all bad, it can be used to help people in more ways than one can imagine. It is just those instances where people create it to be a social escape or hype that the negative light is cast upon it by its critics. Addiction to plastic surgery is when you draw the line, however if you have the means, the monetary fund’s and the willingness to go under the knife, go ahead and do so. Plastic surgery has helped many people under the radar, though not highly publicized, it has put a lot of smiles back on deserving faces.

References

Blum, V. (2005) Becoming the Other Woman: The Psychic Drama of Cosmetic Surgery. Frontiers – A Journal of Women’s Studies, 26(2).

Blum, V.L. (2003)  Flesh Wounds: The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Cho, S. (2007). TV News Coverage of Plastic Surgery, 1972-2004. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 84(1).

Friedling, M.P. (2000). Recovering Women: Feminisms and the Representation of Addiction Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Gimlin, D.L. (2002). Body Work: Beauty and Self-Image in American Culture. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Magee, K., & Magee, W. (2000). Operation Smile “Changing Lives, One Smile at a Time. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 9(3).

Plastic Surgery (2005). Medicine.net. Retrieved from http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=13666

Hartman, R.G. (2005) “Face Value: Challenges of Transplant Technology,” American Journal of Law and Medicine, 31(1).

Shelley, M.W. (1818), Frankenstein. London: Thomas Davidson.

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