New laws to stop cosmetic surgery ‘cowboys’

Across the world, millions go ‘under the knife’ to improve their looks. The UK is introducing new rules in its cosmetic surgery industry — but why do people want to change their appearance?

When Wendy Williams was 30 years old, she went through a traumatic hysterectomy, a surgery which removes the womb. It left her feeling ‘unwomanly’, she said. Hoping to regain her confidence, she had breast implants — and she felt ‘amazing’. But after a few years, she started getting pains in her chest. She realised the implants had ruptured.

Williams was one of 47,000 women in the UK who were given faulty PIP implants, made with industrial rather than medical silicone. In the end, she was able to get them removed — but she was ‘devastated’ by the incident.

The scandal surrounding PIP implants prompted a review into the ‘grubby practices’ of cosmetic surgery in the UK. In June new rules will force doctors to fully explain the risks, and surgeons will be banned from promotional offers like ‘two for one’ deals on procedures. But some fear that the rules do not go far enough; non-surgical options, like botox, are still unregulated. They can be extremely dangerous if not performed by a doctor.

Yet despite the risks, cosmetic surgery is on the rise in Britain: in 2015 the overall number of procedures grew by 13%. And while nine out of ten patients were women, the number of men opting for surgery has doubled in a decade.

Britain is not alone. In South Korea, over half of women in their 20s have had some kind of cosmetic surgery — mostly commonly a blepharoplasty, which makes eyes seem bigger. In Brazil in 2014, over 50,000 people had ‘bum lifts’. And in the USA, 64% of facial plastic surgeons said they were treating more patients under 30, a trend they called the ‘Kardashian effect’.

Celebrities have long been associated with cosmetic surgery; Hollywood stars first started getting face lifts in the 1920s. But despite the pressure to look young, some still regret their decisions — there is nothing like a botched surgery to attract the media’s scorn. And the Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey even blamed her nose job for ruining her career. ‘I went into the ­operating room a celebrity and came out anonymous.’

Losing face

Some worry about the rise in cosmetic surgery, fearing that social media and perfect celebrities have put far too much emphasis on appearance. Surgery is an extreme and risky solution — and it only makes the problem worse. Instead of changing our faces, we should learn to embrace what makes us unique.

Nonsense, argue others. People’s lives can be transformed by the confidence boost they get from plastic surgery — judging them for their decisions is no better than judging them for their faces. As long as they are not being pressured by a partner or tricked by a dodgy doctor, then there is nothing wrong with them taking control of their own bodies.

You Decide

  1. Would you ever consider cosmetic surgery?
  2. Why are younger people becoming more likely to change their appearance?

Activities

  1. List five things that you think make a person attractive. Compare your list with someone sitting next to you. Do you agree? Are there any points where you disagree?
  2. Research one of the ten procedures listed in the graphic at the top of this article. Create a leaflet explaining what it involves, with advice for potential patients.

Some People Say...

“Getting a nose job is no worse than getting a tattoo.”

What do you think?

Q & A

I would never get plastic surgery. What does it matter?
No one goes unaffected by the pressures on appearance — even if you’re totally comfortable in your own skin, your friends and family might not be. It’s important to think about what might cause those insecurities, and the best way to approach them.
I’m thinking of getting plastic surgery one day. What should I do?
There are lots of options available to you if you decide to get cosmetic surgery. But remember that right now you are still young, and your appearance might change before you are an adult. So there is plenty of time to make the decision! If you do decide to go ahead one day, make sure that you find a fully qualified doctor to perform the procedure — it’s never worth putting your health at risk.

Word Watch

PIP
The French company’s implants were banned after 2010, as they were twice as likely to rupture as other implants. Over 300,000 women in 65 countries were affected.
Silicone
Rubber-like synthetic compounds with many different uses — while some forms are used in electronics, others can be used in medicine.
Botox
A chemical called Botulinum toxin which paralyses face muscles in order to prevent wrinkles forming.
13%
This figure is from data released by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.
50,000
According to a survey by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
64%
According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. ‘The more consumers are inundated with celebrity images via social media, the more they want to replicate the enhanced, re-touched images that are passed off as reality,’ said the academy’s president Edwin Williams.
Kardashian
In May 2015, 17-year-old Kylie Jenner (Kim Kardashian’s youngest half sister) admitted she had had temporary lip filler injections. She said they have helped boost her self-esteem.

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