Cosmetic surgery

Cosmetic surgery often gets a bad rap. Some of that is perhaps justified, but much of it is not. Let’s test your perceptions. When someone says to you, “I’m going to get cosmetic surgery,” what do you immediately think? Do you think that they are trying to make themselves look better out of some sort of misplaced sense of vanity? Well, if you do, you are certainly not alone. But there are many sides to the cosmetic surgery debate, and some of those sides are very positive and productive and have nothing to do with vanity.

In its most basic sense, cosmetic surgery is simply a medical specialty. The doctors who practice cosmetic surgery are concerned with restoring either form – that is shape and aesthetics – or function – that is usability – to the body. While yes, a Hollywood wife getting a tummy tuck or a starlet getting a breast enlargement job are both examples of cosmetic surgery, there are many other, very humanitarian, examples for cosmetic surgery as well.

For an example of humanitarian and beneficial, some would even say necessary, cosmetic surgery, take the case of children with cleft palates. Cleft palates (sometimes colloquially known as a harelip) occur at birth in some children, often children from developing countries. Cleft palates are known as a congenital deformity because they develop while the child is in the womb. Cleft palates result when a fetus’ facial structure does not fuse in the womb. A child with a cleft palate will often appear to have a split upper lip, but sometimes the disorder will manifest in other parts of the child’s face. Though cleft palates are usually not harmful to a person’s life, they can be very socially stigmatizing due to the fact that they make the child appear very different from other children. Some doctors specialize in going to developing countries where malnutrition and other factors have led to a high number of children with cleft palates. These doctors operate on the children, fixing their faces, their confidence and their identity.

People who are involved in serious accidents also often have to have cosmetic surgery. This could be simply to get them looking like their old selves again (i.e. the “form” part of cosmetic surgery), but it could also be to get their bodies functioning properly again. For some people, hands, feet, etc. that have been severely damaged in accidents no longer function properly. This contributes to a decreased quality of life, lack of confidence and even possibly the need to hire a caretaker. For this reason, cosmetic surgery is also performed to restore function to people who have been in accidents.

The popularity of television shows such as Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Nip/Tuck and nearly every Hollywood-based reality show out there have shown cosmetic surgery, perhaps erroneously, in a bad light. Another reason we may see cosmetic surgery in a negative light is because it is often called plastic surgery. This comes from the Greek term plastikos, which means to mold or to shape. But we here in American connect the term plastic with the substance plastic, even though the two are unrelated. Because we often think of plastic as “fake” or “synthetic,” when then obviously make the association that cosmetic surgery – “plastic surgery” – is the process of making someone fake when they used to be authentic.

Rest assured that cosmetic surgery has many more uses than just helping Hollywood starlets attain leading lady status or helping bored housewives make themselves look ten years younger – an d then ten years younger again – with the help of a scalpel rather than the hard work, exercise and clean living it takes to actually retain a young look. Cosmetic surgery is also a helpful, progressive medical specialty.

Last updated on Sep 11th, 2009 and filed under Beauty, Plastic Surgery, Women's Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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