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Cosmetic Surgery Literature Paper

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Literature Review

Throughout history and all over the world, people craved beauty. During different time periods, the beauty standards change. While each region has its own beauty standard during certain time periods, people have not stopped pursuing beauty. People used all kinds of techniques to decorate themselves, and as time goes on, technology allows people to do more and more to look young and beautiful. In ancient time, people wear pretty clothes, flowers, and jewelries. Nowadays, people still wear them, but technology allows people to use something else to help them last their beauty for longer times. It is called cosmetic surgery.

In reviewing the literature on cosmetic surgery, I have found several main themes that permeate the various viewpoints: cosmetic surgery is beneficial, it helps people gain confidence; cosmetic surgeries have risks, some of them are worth taking the chance; and cosmetic surgery is useless and unnecessary, it is unnatural and ruins beauty. Exploring the divergences and convergences ultimately reveals that this conversation is important because cosmetic surgery is both popular and controversial. The general public should be aware of its benefits and its risks before they make decisions to do cosmetic surgeries.

Ever since the invention of cosmetic surgery, more and more people decided they want to do cosmetic surgeries to become more beautiful. Cosmetic surgery is more permanent and effective comparing with other techniques. Different from those of plastic surgery, which focuses on fixing defects on one’s face and body, the principles of cosmetic surgery entirely focus on enhancing one’s appearance (Cosmetic Surgery Vs. Plastic Surgery, 2016). The goal of cosmetic surgery is to improve one’s appearance by meeting the beauty standards. Cosmetic surgery can be performed on all areas of the body in order to enhance “imperfect” body parts. It helps people gain confidence by improving their body shapes and appearances. Popular cosmetic surgeries include breast enhancement, facial contouring and rejuvenation, body contouring, and skin rejuvenation. Most cosmetic surgery patients are women, but men do them as well.

What is the ultimate goal for cosmetic surgery patients? In her article “Cosmetic surgery and the fashionable face”, Meredith Jones describes the relationship between cosmetic surgery and fashion as “where two-dimensional images intertwine with three-dimensional ‘reality’”. The two dimensional images spread from media meets the most ideal standard of beauty, therefore they become beauty idols and temps people to become like them. Jones’s view brings up an interesting view—that people want to look beautiful like two-dimensional images, that is why they do cosmetic surgery. With this reason, more could be expanded on the topic.

As mentioned before, the most popular cosmetic surgeries are breast enhancement, facial contouring and rejuvenation, body contouring, and skin rejuvenation (Cosmetic surgery vs. plastic surgery, 2016). Breast enhancement includes augmentation, reduction, and lift; facial contouring and rejuvenation includes rhinoplasty, cheek enhancement, and facelift; body contouring includes liposuction and tummy tuck; and skin rejuvenation includes laser resurfacing and filler treatments (Cosmetic surgery vs. plastic surgery, 2016). It is not hard to notice that all of these cosmetic surgeries’ purpose is to make patients look younger and more beautiful to meet the beauty standards, however, not every surgery succeeds.

Cosmetic surgeries come with many risks, and if the patients are not taken care properly they may suffer from bruises and pain, permanent scars, even death. According to Heathline, the most common complications are hematoma, nerve damage, infection, scarring, organ damage, and blood loss. Hematoma is a risk in nearly all surgeries. It is “a pocket of blood that resembles a large, painful bruise”, and it sometimes requires additional operations to drain the blood out. Never damage, infection, scarring, organ damage and blood loss all occur in 2-10% of patients if they are not taken care properly (Heathline, 2015). All of which are seriously dangerous and painful, it literally means “no pain, no gain”. The physical injuries after cosmetic surgery is not the worst. The mental illness that comes with cosmetic surgery is. Not everyone gains confidence after cosmetic surgeries. Some patients are unsatisfied after cosmetic surgeries without failures. William Leif Ericksen and Stephen Bates Billick write in their article “Psychiatric issues in cosmetic plastic surgery” that many patients are unsatisfied after they do cosmetic surgeries without regard to aesthetic success. Many patients do not understand the difference between realistic appearance and imaginary appearance. Even when everyone else think the surgery is successful, that means, without defects or side effects, the patient might still be unsatisfied because the outcome does not match her expectation. If the patient is unsatisfied after cosmetic surgery, her disappointment might cause depression. (Ericksen, 2012).

        Besides the physical and mental illnesses, cost is a big problem to many. In the U.S., the national average cost of cosmetic surgery is very high. Depending on different surgeries and surgeons, the price varies, but all of which are not cheap, not so economic for ordinary people to afford. In addition to surgeon fee, patients need to pay extras after surgeries to maintain their health and appearances. Up to here, cosmetic surgery does not sound so wonderful now, does it? It costs a lot of money, comes with dangerous side effects, and could be unsatisfying if it does not meet the patient’s expectation. But that’s not the only downside.

Cosmetic surgery affects people’s aesthetic standard and encourages people to prefer the unnatural, created face than their natural looks. The reputation of being expertized at cosmetic surgery and being economic on the costs make South Korea a country of cosmetic surgeries. While South Korea attracts many foreign patients to come in tour groups for cosmetic surgeries, South Korean women themselves are crazy about doing these surgeries. South Koreans takes cosmetic surgeries way too seriously, and thinks that only the surgically fixed faces are the most beautiful. In her article “The beauty complex and the cosmetic surgery industry”, Woo Keong Ja explains that Koreans women are obsessed with cosmetic surgery and spend millions of dollars on these surgeries annually (Ja, 2004). To Korean women, beauty is everything. It gives them power, pleasure, and liberation “but within the boundaries set by their appearance” (Ja, 2004). The author thinks that cosmetic surgery is not a “medical procedure that treats or maintains general health”, but it is “an ideological domain in which women’s obsession with appearance”. Patriarchal ideology defines women’s appearances as “an ability that only women can possess” and brainwashes them to be willing to go through “a violent transformation of their bodies” with the intention of experiencing “an empowerment, pleasure, and freedom from appearance” (Ja, 2004). This phenomenon make women’s bodies become “an object of consumption, not subject to their own identity”. Women’s desires become “dependent on each other, and their appearances become unified” (Ja, 2004).



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