Most of us don't like some aspect of our appearance, whether it's sagging eyes or excess weight in particular areas, to name a few complaints. Lately a record numbers of Americans are doing something about it by having plastic surgery. Since 1995, the number of cosmetic procedures, which range from liposuction to facelifts, has almost tripled (English 23). Is that a healthy choice-or a dangerous trend? Aging has become the field of the future for plastic surgeons whose patients have reasons not always valid in the search for youth and beauty.
Many startling statistics surround the topic of plastic surgery. The strong economy of the 1990's, and the decrease in the average amount of children, is what many credit for the excess income that has allowed for "discretionary spending" on plastic surgery. An opportunity to improve one's self-image at what seems to be a fair deal. Cosmetic surgery fees, as reported by the Sun-Sentinel, range from a modest six thousand for a complete facelift to a meager five hundred for a partial chemical peel. Once you have completed a consultation with the chief surgeon, or a patient coordinator, a financial arrangement is typically available through some type of assistance program. While women make up most patients, (Neimark 9), men represent 13% of current patients. This trend has been on the rise mainly because of the mainstream acceptance society has of plastic surgery. In addition, the expectations of women are strongly based upon their physical beauty, especially in the workplace. Yet some link the psychological need for an acceptable body image to the fact that plastic surgery helps emphasize the feminine and masculine features that many desire. Is this national obsession with our appearance a new sickness? Looking at the numbers of procedures in recent years shows it must be extremely contagious. Although the types of procedures range in relation to the number of body parts and continues to increase every year, there are three very popular ones. Eyelid surgery ranks first with around 465,000 procedures, followed by 288,000 breast augmentations, and 244,000 facelifts (Gottlieb 3). These numbers are small in comparison to what are called "lunch time" procedures, or ones performed under a local anesthesia and released the after the operation without a hospital stay. Over three million chemical peels and injections along with liposuction operations were performed in 2000 alone (5)! As critic Liz Stuart states, has plastic surgery become "a quest for the ordinary rather than the extraordinary?" (33)
Plastic surgery can control what the future has in store for the aging process. Baby boomers want to look good enough to compete with the younger people. By "reinterpreting what it means to grow old," (English 16) they can clearly foresee another life ahead of them. Even though they might be fifty years old, inside they can feel twenty years young. Yet, does the line between...