Cosmetic surgery – do the ends justify the means?


We are living in a world surrounded by people that have altered their appearance. Whether that’s cosmetic surgery, piercings, tattoos, hair dye or cosmetics, most people are guilty of changing their appearance. It’s rare that we see people in all of their unaltered glory in everyday life.

We also live in a society that is quick to judge those who decide to have surgery, we say they look fine the way they are and if something goes wrong that person will be scrutinised in the media, celebrity or not. Our modern society can be too quick to judge those that go under the knife for cosmetic surgery procedures.

So with that being said, how many people in the UK are undergoing surgery for cosmetic reasons? The Guardian reported that 43,172 people in 2012 underwent cosmetic surgery and that rose to 50,122 in 2013, with the most popular surgery in 2013 being breast augmentation. The interest in breast surgery is surprising after the Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) implant scandal in 2012, the NHS reported that this caused over 5,600 women to get their implants removed after Jean-Claude Mas’ implants were used in the breast surgery of over 47,000 British women.

Among breast augmentation, The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons’ 2013 report shows that other popular surgeries are eyelid surgery and face or neck lifts. Surgeries that deal with our physical and facial appearance are in high demand.

The obsession with looking perfect can come with a hefty price tag as Triana Lavey, 38, from Los Angeles, California found out. Triana revealed to ABC’s Nightline that she spend $15,000 on cosmetic surgery procedures in order to take better ‘selfies’. The surgeries included rhinoplasty, a chin implant and fat grafts to define her cheeks, she also has regular Botox injections to keep her looking youthful. While Triana says she is very happy with the results, she also admits that before Instagram and Facebook she cared very little for how she looked.

Triana Lavey

Triana’s story ended with her being pleased with her results but not all do, as Japanese-born Rina Nanase learnt after surgery to her eyes, nose and chin. Since the surgery she has been widely reported to look similar to that of Dobby the house elf from the Harry Potter books. While the Daily Mail report that she is happy with her surgery, the attention from the media is a risk those undertaking surgery might have to face.

We women aren’t too unlike celebrities, we all want to look youthful and often dislike things about our appearance. Celebrities often have the privilege of accessing the best cosmetic surgeons when they decide they want to alter something, like Jennifer Aniston who admitted to having a deviated septum fixed in 2007 and called it the best thing she ever did. While Jennifer’s almost unnoticeable surgery had no effect on her flourishing acting career that is not the case for all celebrities.

Jennifer Grey starred alongside Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing and after the success of the film decided to undergo rhinoplasty in 1989. Jennifer has admitted to regretting the surgery since and was reported in the Mirror online as having said: “It was the nose job from hell. I’ll always be this once-famous actress nobody recognises because of a nose job.”

While cosmetic surgery is an interesting debate, opinions can be swayed by television shows like ABC’s Extreme Makeover and drama Nip/Tuck that trivialise cosmetic surgery for entertainment, detracting from the lengthy thought process and meetings with surgeons that people go through before a procedure. People make informed decisions for themselves based on what surgeons believe.

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