A Woman’s View: cosmetic surgery

By Donna Ward

Did you know that a staggering 11.7 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in the United States in 2007?

As reported by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, surgical procedures account for 18 percent of the total, with nonsurgical procedures making up 82 percent of the total.  Since 2000, some people have adopted cosmetic surgery as a way of life rather than an emergency necessity, and since 1997, the increase in the total number of cosmetic procedures has jumped 457 percent.  Surgical procedures increased by 114 percent, and nonsurgical procedures increased by a shocking 754 percent.

But what do NEast women think?

“I would never have plastic surgery done personally, but I can understand why some woman that have been scarred or permanently disfigured would,” said Cindy Keown, a NEast shopper.  “It just doesn’t make sense to go under the knife for vanity to me.”

Truth be told – woman are statistically more likely to endure plastic surgery than men. However, in recent years, the number of men attempting cosmetic surgery has rapidly increased.

The top five surgical cosmetic procedures done in 2007 were: liposuction (456,828), breast augmentation (399,440), eyelid surgery (240,763), abdominoplasty (185,335), and breast reduction (153,087).  The top five nonsurgical cosmetic procedures in 2007 were: Botox injections (2,775,176), hyaluronic acid (1,448,716), laser hair removal (1,412,657), microdermabrasion (829,658) and IPL laser treatments (647,707).

“I don’t see anything wrong with people wanting to fix their bodies within reason, but some get carried away with it like an addiction,” said Leslie Walters, a NEast resident.  “I mean there is a point were you have to say enough is enough, it is just age and time and nothing can stop it.”

Forty-seven percent of cosmetic procedures are performed on people between the ages of 35 and 50, and of the 5.4 million procedures completed, Liposuction and Botox are the top sought after remedies.  Twenty-one percent of cosmetic procedures are performed on people between the ages of 19 and 34, and of the 2.4 million procedures completed, breast augmentation and laser hair removal are the top procedures.

Many people question why there has been such a rise over the years in the need for cosmetic surgery.  The increases in stress levels brought on by today’s society have taken a toll on physical attributes and can cause aging prematurely.  Many people who can successfully handle the stress of their jobs cannot handle the way it ages their face and bodies.  With the increasing demand for people’s time to be consumed by their careers, less time is able to be spent for relaxation and pampered treatment.  Many people seek cosmetic surgery as a “quick fix.”

“I would personally never have cosmetic surgery unless there was a drastic reason for it.  I think too many people are too quick to jump under the knife for the sake of self-esteem,” said  NEaster Cindy Boller.  “I mean it just seem like that turns out to be the answer for what should just be acceptance; age happens deal with it.”

Many believe that Hollywood starlets can also accept some of the blame for the increased numbers in cosmetic surgeries over the years.  The demand of their jobs is incredible, and the stress and strain combined with increased pressures of having to look perfect make many starlets seek swift help.

“Hollywood is Hollywood and they will always be different, but you can’t expect to look like a starlet,” Boller said. “Learning to accept who you are and be comfortable in your own skin no matter how you look is what people need to achieve.  Cosmetic surgery just makes you feel worse about yourself because it points out all the things wrong.”

True, cosmetic surgery can be like an addiction, but how far will a person go to look perfect?

“I will admit that I over-abuse Botox and that once you start it, you get use to it and then before you know it, it’s like nothing and you start looking for other little fixes that you can do,” said an anonymous woman who resides in the NEast. “I started with Botox and then more Botox as more lines appeared, and then I had my eyes done, and then I started to look at everything else and realized yikes I am changing everything.”

There are many times that cosmetic surgery is helpful and necessary, and it should not be viewed entirely with misgivings.  Cosmetic surgery can do wonderful things for those with serious medical problems or disfigurements that need to be altered.  While there may be times when cosmetic surgery is necessary, people should be cautioned against the over indulgence of relying on artificial help.

Having people around you who support you and look beyond physical attributes can help greatly in boosting a person’s self-esteem beyond the need for surgery.

“My wife lost a breast to cancer over 15 years ago and to this day, I see her no different from the woman I have always known, said Gary Draw of the NEast. “I hope more men support their wives and understand the great loss many suffer because of this tragic disease.  I would never look down on a woman for having had to endure such a thing whether she chooses to have a breast augmentation or not – she’s still a courageous woman.”

If you want to invest in cosmetic surgery, make sure you find a doctor right for you who understands what you are looking for.  Be careful with the number of procedures you have done and be sure you are doing them for your own gratification and not others.  The hardest person you have to please is yourself. Learning to accept and be happy as the person you are no matter what is the best transformation you can give yourself.

A Woman’s View is a column about women’s issues written by Donna Ward. The column appears every other Thursday on NEastPhilly.com. See others here.

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