Americans are obsessed with attaining the perfect body. But gone are the days of wishing- now, the perfect breasts are just a slice away, old age can be prevented through Botox, and a face like Jennifer Aniston’s can be yours for only a few thousand dollars. [nose]
Nancy, the department nurse manager for the MSU Department of Surgery, who asked that her last name be left out of the article, said the basic reason people come in to receive surgery is because they want to improve their looks. While she said most of the patients are in mid-life, she sees a lot of college students come in for one reason or another. “They are either looking to increase their breast size because they feel that they are too small, or they want to reduce it because they feel that they are too big,” she said. “We sometimes get students that want a tummy tuck or they want a scar repaired on their face.”
Fourteen percent of people who got a cosmetic procedure done were between 19 and 34.
Despina Nevells, a communications junior, had a rhinoplasty (nose job) procedure done when she was 19 years old and said the experience turned out positively. “When I got into high school I started noticing that in pictures all I could see was my nose, I thought it was huge,” Nevells said.” I discussed having my nose done with my parents but as a high-school freshman my mom thought I was too young, so she told me that if I still had a problem with it when I graduated I could get it fixed.” Nevells recalls how all her friends had told her that getting a nose job was not necessary for her, but after the surgery, everyone seemed pleased with the outcome.
[four]In 2004, there were about 8 million plastic surgeries or procedures performed on women alone. Women make up 87 percent of all cosmetic plastic surgeries, with liposuction ranking as the number one procedure. Other popular procedures include breast augmentation, eyelid surgery, nose reshaping and face lifts. This, however, doesn’t include the approximately 2.5 million women who received Botox injections, a 284 percent increase in use between 2000 and 2004.
However, women are not the only ones going under the knife anymore. Men made up 13 percent of the people who received some type of plastic surgery, about 1.1 million in all. The number-one surgery for men was nose reshaping, but hair implants, eyelid surgery, liposuction and male breast reduction were some other surgeries that topped the list. Nearly 350,000 men received Botox injections.
Beyond Botox, which is called a minimally-invasive cosmetic procedure, plastic surgery comes in two forms: cosmetic or reconstructive. Cosmetic surgery is used to reshape normal structures of the body, often to help the patient with self-esteem and change her physical appearance. Cosmetic surgeries are not normally covered by medical insurance.
Reconstructive surgery is done on parts of the body that have been altered because of an accident or a health problem. Reconstructive surgery improves functions of the body to create or restore a natural appearance. It is normally covered by insurance because it is done most often for health reasons.
Nancy explained that not all surgeons do whatever a person comes in and asks for. “We do not get people that come in with pictures of famous people,” she said. “Plastic surgery is more to help people and if it is medically necessary. Whether or not someone received surgery depends on if the surgeon is comfortable with doing the procedure and if the patient really needs it. We have turned people away because they did not need anything done. I think any good surgeon would.”
Karen, a consultant for East Lansing plastic surgeon Dr. Rick Smith, who also asked that her last name be left out of the article, explained how her office prepares its patients and educates them on everything that is a happening. “We really want to make sure our patients are well-prepared and understand everything that is going on,” she said. “They go through three consultations before they have the surgery and get plenty of reading material. Patients are still nervous because it is a surgery, but they are ready. If the doctor believes it will not turn out, he will tell them ahead of time.”
Nevells said her experience was similar. “I had a great doctor who kept me fully informed and comfortable at all times,” Nevells said. “I had a lot of pre-surgery consultations, and we were all well aware of what I wanted done and what he planned on doing.”
[two2]For Nevells, and most people undergoing any type of surgery, there is a sense of fear involved. “Of course I was scared, anytime you go under the knife there is always that chance something could go wrong, but they gave me something to relax me and then I don’t remeber anything until I woke up in the recovery room,” Nevells said. “It didn’t really hurt, just really uncomfortable, I couldn’t breath out of my nose for a really long time, and for a week I had a giant face cast, but there was really no intense pain.”
Perhaps the most painful part of the surgery is the receiving the bill. Plastic surgery in any form doesn’t come cheap. Nancy said prices vary from procedure to procedure and it also depends on the person’s history. “If it is a procedure that can be done in the office, it is cheaper. Hospitals tend to be more expensive.”
“Our prices range anywhere from $3,500 to $11,000,” Karen said. “It depends on what is being done. Our most expensive procedure is a body lift. Liposuction can also be very expensive.”
But high prices aren’t keeping people away as much they have in the past. “It is not only people with money that are getting this work done,” Bokram said. “People that don’t necessarily have the money are wasting the money they have on this stuff. It is getting out of control.”
With so many makeover shows on television, such as “Extreme Makeover,” “The Swan” and MTV’s all-too popular “I Want A Famous Face,” it’s no surprise many people will turn to surgery to enhance their bodies.[mirror]
Ronda Bokram, nutritionist and adviser for Respecting and Understanding Body Image (RUBI) on campus, said: “These plastic surgery shows are glamorizing it even though it is a really serious thing. Television in general is making how someone looks most important, and people are falling into these false standards by giving them a false sense of self-esteem.”
Marshall Eisen, the executive producer of MTV’s “I Want A Famous Face,” disagrees. He feels the show is not sending the wrong messages, at least not to young people.
”We do not cater to teenagers,” Eisen said. “Everyone on our show is over 18 and most of the people are in their 20s. We choose our participants from surgeons and letters we receive. Our participants also have already planned to have surgery and have begun the process.”
He said the idea for the show came from two plastic surgery shows they did on their “True Life” series. “On [‘True Life’] we saw that people come with famous people’s pictures of how they wanted to look so we came up with [‘I Want A Famous Face’].”
Eisen feels the show actually makes people think twice about having surgery. “We are just a fly on the wall showing our viewers what really happens when going through plastic surgery,” he said. “It is more of a documentation of their experiences, the good and the bad. As part of the show we have another feature profile that shows that things really can go bad with plastic surgery. We show that it should not be taken lightly.”
Computer science freshman Cynthia Forrest watches plastic surgery shows, but not because she likes them. “I watch them because I believe the outcomes are hilarious,” Forrest said. “These people spend thousands to look uglier than they looked before. God made you the way He made you – embrace it, don’t hate it.”
However, Mary Varano, advertising junior, enjoys a good surgery show. “A little gore is fun! I just really like to see people happy at the end,” she said. “The people must be really insecure to do that for TV.”
Carla Thompson, interdisciplinary studies in social science, human resources and society junior, doesn’t watch plastic surgery television shows. “I don’t find them interesting and I believe it is a way for people to wallow in shallowness.”
Although plastic surgery is growing in popularity, there are some students that say they would not go through with it.
“I believe you should be happy with who you are,” Thompson said. “Besides, if you meet someone who likes your new look, if you have children, you are going to pass those traits along, so you waste your time and money. I would never get work done because there is someone for everyone. Someone will love you for who you are. If someone loves you due to superficial changes, then they don’t love you!”
Forrest agrees. “I don’t think that I am the finest thing walking, but I sure don’t need surgery done,” she said. “I believe that everyone should stay the way that they are – be happy with yourself. Somebody out there loves you and loves the way you look.”
However, many feel it is up to the individual.
Okechukwu Okoro, mechanical engineering senior, said, “I would not get any work done because I am too scared that something will go wrong, but if a girl wants a boob job, go for it!”
If you are considering plastic surgery make sure you know what you are getting yourself into, and consider why you want something done. “I believe plastic surgery is a waste of time and money,” Thompson said. “People who go through with it or even consider it should be psychologically evaluated.”
As with anything, educate yourself on the subject, and think about whether it’s something you really want to pursue and something you can afford in the long-run. And face it, you might want to look like Jennifer Aniston now, but down the road, and $15,000 later, you may just realize Brad Pitt would love you better as yourself.

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