Plastic Surgery: How Much Is Too Much? What Are The Alternatives?

February 22, 2020

In the United States, the market for men’s grooming or ‘manscaping’ as it is often called, is now a booming $4 billion industry. While personal grooming has taken off across the gender spectrum, more extreme methods of beautification have also seen a rise. Plastic surgery on its own can be beneficial for many reasons. It can help boost self-confidence, correct uncomfortable defects, or simply help an individual tweak features they’re unhappy with. However, as plastic surgery has risen in popularity, so too has the rate of extreme modification highlighting the lengths people will go to achieve the ‘perfect’ body.

How far is too far? Should limits be placed on certain forms of plastic surgery? Let’s look deeper into these extremes to get a better understanding.

The Rise of Plastic Surgery and the Extremes

In 2018 over 18 million people underwent a minimally invasive or surgical cosmetic procedure in America. This rate has been steadily rising for the past five years prior, and today continues this steady incline. A study from the United Kingdom sought to understand the main motivators behind this rise by analyzing 204 questionnaires from people who had undergone procedures. The findings of this study showed that, among women, reported low life satisfaction, self-esteem, and perceived attractiveness were some of the largest driving factors. Likewise, high media exposure and fewer religious beliefs were shown to make respondents more likely to get cosmetic surgery. While women made up the bulk of these findings, a surprising number of men were found to also be considering plastic surgery.

At the conclusion of this study, the effects of media consumption and religiousness were highlighted, with media portrayed beauty standards believed to play a large part in how respondents viewed themselves. This is not a difficult connection to make, and already many women — and men — are speaking out about the unrealistic standards praised in media. More likely than not it is these standards that influence the more extreme cases of cosmetic surgery, with people going under in the attempt to look like Barbie or Ken dolls.

While most people who undergo cosmetic surgeries won’t go to the extreme, there has been an uptick in recent years that some may find worrying. Today, surgeons are seeing more teenagers requesting cosmetic procedures, with 229,000 being performed on patients between the ages of 13 and 19 in 2017. Doctors now are considering how social media is impacting these decisions, fueling the drive for young patients to seek augmentation in order to look like the stars on Instagram and Twitter. This can be a slippery slope that quickly devolves into young adults abusing cosmetic procedures in order to conform to what they’ve been taught is the epitome of beauty.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, otoplasty, a type of surgery to enhance ear appearance, can cost $3,154. Likewise, rhinoplasty and breast augmentation can cost $5,125 and $5,634 respectively. These costs are something that must also be considered by teens looking to undergo a cosmetic procedure. While sometimes these treatments can be beneficial to alleviate health problems, it’s important to emphasize the cost of treatment and recovery, as well as the risk factors associated with these procedures.

The Risks of Plastic Surgery

Many people, especially teens seeking augmentation, often assume that plastic surgery will provide them with instant results. However, there are serious risks involved with any type of procedure that should be considered beforehand.

  • Hematoma: Hematoma is when a pocket of blood develops under the skin that resembles a large bruise. Often painful, they are most common after facelift procedures, most commonly in males. While this is a risk in nearly all surgeries, the treatment can sometimes involve additional surgery to drain the blood.
  • Infection: Another danger that comes from any type of surgery, the risk of infection is something to be taken seriously. Infections occur in 1.1 to 2.5% of breast augmentation patients. If an infection becomes severe, intravenous antibiotics may be required to treat it.
  • Nerve Damage: Nerve damage can happen during many types of procedures and it can cause numbness and tingling after surgery. Often this is only temporary; however, it can be permanent in some cases. For instance, numbness and changes in sensation are common after breast augmentation with 15% of patients reporting permanent changes in sensation.
  • Scarring: Hypertrophic scarring can create a raised thick scar where incisions are made. Keloid scars can also form, which appear as smooth hard growths. Sometimes growing larger than the wound, these scars aren’t life-threatening; however, due to their appearance can be quite noticeable.
  • Dissatisfaction: Plastic surgery won’t always give you the results you were hoping for and dissatisfaction after surgery is a real thing. Many patients encounter problems with symmetry after breast augmentation and more still aren’t satisfied with their facial surgeries. This can lead to additional treatments and additional chances for complications.

Furthermore, in the United States, medical malpractice comprises 15% of all personal injury cases. Take for instance the case of Nyosha Fowler who went in for a Brazilian butt lift and ended up awaking to find that her bowels had been punctured during liposuction and fat was injected into her sciatic nerve. While this is an extreme case, it still serves to show the danger that can be associated with popular procedures.

To make cases like Nyosha Fowler’s worse, she was never compensated the cost of damages because the surgeon she went to was practicing without medical malpractice insurance. This meant there was little chance for Fowler to receive the compensation she was due. Scarier still is the fact that in the state of Florida alone — where this incident took place — over 6,900 doctors were practicing without this insurance. These doctors and physicians are also found to be disciplined more frequently, up to 44%.

At the end of the day, if you are planning on undergoing a surgical cosmetic procedure, make sure you understand the costs and the risks. Speak thoroughly with your surgeon and make sure that they have the safeguards in place to ensure you are cared for in the event something does go awry. Alternatively, you can also ask about non-surgical options and natural cosmetics that many are now turning to in the place of surgical intervention.

The Rise of Natural Alternatives

Over 42% of women over the age of 18 said that they had a preference for natural beauty products and solutions. When it comes to non-surgical options two of the most popular include:

  • Cryotherapy: Used for pain relief and weight loss, cryotherapy uses cold to help stimulate your body and burn calories. Requiring you to stand in a tank of freezing water — down to -90 degrees — this therapy works by tricking your body into thinking it is in crisis. This causes your body to burn through calories in the hope of maintaining warmth. Furthermore, this therapy can also help stimulate blood vessels giving you a rosy youthful glow once you’re finished.
  • Mesotherapy: This type of therapy uses a mixture of amino acids, vitamins and medications injected into the first layer of skin. This helps plump and hydrate skin, mitigating the look of fine lines. The mixture that’s injected depends on exactly what type of problem you’re trying to treat. A local anesthetic, products to reduce inflammation, and muscle relaxants are a couple of popular options, though many more exist.

Natural cosmetics are also on the rise as people try and find skin-friendly alternatives to synthetic makeups. This includes makeup that is formulated with antioxidants, vitamins, and essential oils that help keep your skin looking its best without extreme intervention. Natural brands often carry a wide array of products including moisturizers, cleansers, shampoos, and conditioners. All of which help mitigate exposure to damaging synthetics and instead boost beauty a natural way.

The Bottom Line

Plastic surgery has its place and it can be beneficial for those who struggle with their appearance. However, because there is a rise in extreme procedures and teens looking to change their appearance due to social media, it is important to be realistic about the risks. Plastic surgery isn’t always a one-and-done solution. It can take multiple surgeries to end up with the look you want, barring any complications that may occur. It’s also important to critically think about your motivations for seeking plastic surgery and how media standards could have played a role in making you feel as if your natural beauty isn’t enough.

At the end of the day, plastic surgery remains a hotly debated personal choice. However, being a personal choice it is not something anyone should be shamed for. That said, make sure to know the risks and speak with your doctor at length before making any decisions. While natural beauty is something that needs to be talked about more, in the end, the most important thing is that you are happy with yourself.

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