Surgeries and Procedures
Cosmetic surgeries and procedures have increasingly become much more common in the United States than they were even in the late 1990s. For example, in 2011 alone, a total of 9,194,510 patients received some form of cosmetic surgery or procedure in the U.S. Of these, most individuals elected for nonsurgical procedures, or approximately 7,555,986.
However, although cosmetic surgeries have gained in popularity, it is important to understand the various risks associated with each of the different types of surgical procedures. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you thoroughly discuss the "pros" and "cons" associated with the specific cosmetic procedure that you are considering.
This will include understanding both the short-term and long-term effects associated with the surgical procedure.
It is also important to discuss and determine that exact results that the surgical procedure will provide to ensure that the end result of the surgery is completely in-line with your expectations.
In addition, you should also take the time to discuss other non-surgical approaches to achieving the same result. For example, what are they (i.e. a dietary weight loss program vs. liposuction), what time-frame and effort is required to achieve the results, and so on.
Who Gets Plastic Surgery?
Despite the stereotypical view of a plastic surgery patient -- a senior citizen millionaire socialite receiving filling out her face life punch card faster than most of us can fill out our coffee one -- more people with lower income levels are seeking cosmetic procedures in the U.S.
One Internet survey in 2005 found that 71% of the people seeking cosmetic procedures in the previous year had an income level of under $60,000. What's more, 64% were under the age of 50 and a vast 81% had never had a procedure performed before.
Television shows like the popular "Nip Tuck" have also glamorized the field of plastic surgery, although also showcasing many of the inherent and real risks (and a few outrageous ones) involved in any surgical procedure. But the real story behind cosmetic surgery is much less exciting, and certainly wouldn't make for entertaining television. Most people that seek cosmetic surgery do so after a long period of careful thought and self-realization.
Forget the taboos about living with the body you've been given. Just like you're not ostracized by society for seeking to improve your body through diet and exercise, taking a special interest in your appearance to improve self-confidence shouldn't come with a social stigma at all.
How is Plastic Surgery Regulated?
One of the old myths about cosmetic surgery patients is that most patients seek surgery primarily because of some mental disturbance or psychiatric problem. In truth, there are at least two governing agencies regulating licensing for plastic surgeons, with strict guidelines about consultations that must occur prior to treatment.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery is the most prominent of these organizations, founded in 1967. The ASAPS also sets forth guidelines for applying for and retaining certification from their organization. Some of these guidelines include:
In addition, surgeons that were trained in an area other than plastic surgery are not eligible for ASAPS membership, even if they are currently accepting plastic surgery patients and are certified to do so by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Not all plastic surgery procedures are performed is for solely cosmetic reasons. Many plastic surgeons also perform reconstructive surgery on patients that have experienced an accident of some sort.
For example, some patients require plastic surgery following extensive burns, traumatic injuries, diseases and infections, and cancer.
Many other patients seek plastic surgeons to repair serious congenital abnormalities. Reconstructive surgery is often used to restore proper bodily function to areas, but can also be used to help a patient achieve a normal appearance.
Some of the most common reconstructive surgeries are:
Depending on the issue itself and the severity of the problem, reconstructive surgery may be covered by your health insurance, unlike cosmetic surgery which is rarely covered.
Reconstructive surgeons often use a technique called microsurgery to transfer tissue from an unaffected area of the patient's body to another area undergoing surgery. Material such as bone, skin, fat, or muscle can be surgically removed from an area that will not be significantly impacted. Microsurgical techniques require that the plastic surgeon then reconnect the tissue to arteries and veins, some of which can be as small as one or two millimeters in diameter.
When Not to Seek Plastic Surgery
Despite the intense regulations on plastic surgeons and extensive patient consultations, some people seek repeated plastic surgery not out of necessity, but due to a psychological disorder called body dysmorphic disorder, or an overwhelming obsession with body image. The media often exacerbates the issue with attention to beauty and perfection, and focus on celebrity plastic surgery.
In fact, some individuals have famously taken out loans to afford plastic surgery -- one woman was granted a loan for $83,000 to pay for 14 different plastic surgeries. Perhaps worse for patients with body dysmorphic disorder is the fact that around 50 percent of all patients with the condition are unsatisfied with their appearance following plastic surgery; many take drastic measures such as resorting to suicide, or "do-it-yourself plastic surgery," which can carry extreme safety risks.
If you are considering plastic surgery to repair an issue or problem that you feel jeopardizes your ability to live a normal, healthy life, by all means seek medical and psychological assistance to aide in your decision before simply committing to a surgical cosmetic procedue. For example, liposuction will never be as effective as diet and exercise in the long-term, and learning to live with minor cosmetic issues, or perceived issues, can be more emotionally gratifying then having them surgically removed.