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Plastic Surgery

It is pretty surprising to see how much plastic surgery has become such an accepted part of society. In previous decades, undergoing plastic surgery was something that only weird people do, people that just couldn’t accept the way that they look for some reason. However, times have changed, as millions of people are more than ready to admit that they are not completely comfortable with the way that they look. The numbers back it up, as the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASASPS) reported in 2005 that nearly 11.5 million cosmetic surgery procedures were performed that year. That is an amazing total and a figure that continues to grow. Of course, there are still a large number of people that are highly critical of these treatments and view the whole thing as superficial. Additionally, skeptics of plastic surgery frequently point to bad plastic surgery pictures and tell stories of plastic surgery gone wrong. The Dangers of Plastic Surgery have been well documented and many people continue to think that the plastic surgery industry is a horrible one. This of course leads to the question, plastic surgery – evil or great? The answer all depends on the person.

What is plastic surgery?

When people discuss plastic surgery, they are actually two different concepts - cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery. In previous decades, plastic surgery primarily meant reconstructive surgery, which refers to treatments that are designed to reconstruct a part of a person’s body that had become damaged or deformed. Whether it was from an accident or due to disease, reconstructive surgery is used to help a patient return to the way that they look before. In some cases, reconstructive surgery is performed to create changes in a person’s body that is affecting their health. While Celebrities and Plastic Surgery tend to go together solely for cosmetic reasons, actress Cameron Diaz recently underwent reconstructive surgery on her nose to repair a breathing problem. Even the most vocal critics of plastic surgery will find it difficult to criticize patients that undergo reconstructive surgery. However, the thing that has spurred the plastic surgery industry in recent years has been cosmetic surgery. Although the lines between cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery can be considered blurry, typically, cosmetic surgery refers to plastic surgery treatments that are being solely for cosmetic reasons. Unlike reconstructive surgery, which is used as a reaction to a disease or an accident, cosmetic surgery patients are generally healthy and are undergoing the treatment to change the way that they look in one way or another. Examples of popular cosmetic surgery procedures are: breast augmentation, tummy tucks, and liposuction. While it is nearly impossible to completely support or oppose plastic surgery, isn’t it true that we all have parts of our bodies that we want to change? From a few extra pounds on our tummies to a less than endowed chest, there are certain things about the way that we look that we tend to focus on. It was for that reason that plastic surgery was developed.

History of Plastic Surgery

It’s amazing that people tend to misinterpret the ‘plastic’ part of the plastic surgery equation. While there is a coincidental connotation to being fake, plastic surgery actually evolved from Greek terminology. Derived from the Greek word ‘plastikos,’ which can be translated as ‘to mold or to take shape,’ plastic surgery may be a newly popular phenomenon but actually has its roots back in ancient times. Examples of plastic surgery can be traced back to the times of ancient India where it was written about in Sanskrit texts. Historians have found written works that they believe is from 500 BC, in which the Hindu author Sushruta describes using skin from the cheek and forehead to reconstruct earlobes and noses. The famed Byzantine physician, Oribasius, described reconstructive plastic surgery methods in his medical encyclopedia, Syanagogue Medicae. In the 1800s, Europeans were applying the latest surgical anesthetics to reconstructive nose surgery for its people that had either suffered damage to their nose from disease or through fighting. Despite having such an immensely long history, modern plastic surgery can be traced back to World War 1. Due to the horrible effects that fighting had on soldiers, an all-star team of surgeons from all over the world provided reconstructive surgical treatments that were designed to help soldiers hide the effects of the war. Over 11,000 major facial operations had been conducted at Queens Hospital in Kent, England alone during World War 1. However, following the war, many of these innovative surgeons felt that plastic surgery should be accessible to everyone. The rationale was, “if soldiers whose faces had been torn away by bursting shells on the battlefield could come back in an almost normal life with new faces created by the wizardry of the new science of plastic surgery, why couldn’t women whose faces had been ravaged by nothing more explosive than the hand of the years find again the firm clear contours of youth.” Although the quote may have been over dramatic, it led to the rise of the plastic surgery industry. Although controversial, groups like the American Association of Plastic Surgeons (AAPS) and the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (ASPRS) were formed shortly after the war. While plastic surgery treatments were not considered an option for most people due to the high costs of plastic surgery and the use of unsophisticated technology, these problems have been mitigated today. Prices for Plastic Surgery have dropped to startling levels and the use of improving technology has made plastic surgery treatments both safer and more efficient. While it is fair to be a bit critical and suspicious of plastic surgery treatments, it is also important to respect individuals’ right to undergo these treatments. After all, the whole debate of whether or not plastic surgery is right or wrong has been waged for nearly a century now. Whether you support plastic surgery treatments or are opposed to them, it is important to remember these words spoken by early plastic surgeon Dr. John Staige Davis in 1926: “if a new nose enabled a war veteran to hold a job and marry, could it not also improve the employment opportunities of a civilian man or sweeten the marital and therefore financial prospects of a woman? Wasn’t it undemocratic to deny an individual the right to self-improvement?”