Contemporary Issues In Health

The main theme of this assignment shall analyse plastic surgery, specifically cosmetic surgery. Firstly plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery will be defined, and discussed.

The consequence of the media’s influence on cosmetic surgery in terms of analysing the surgery and the possible reasons behind people’s surgery will be analysed. Then an example of cosmetic surgery will be given using Michael Jackson. The plastic surgery that shall be looked at will be private surgery for people purely having cosmetic surgery for enhancement or beauty reasons.

When people seek plastic surgery within the National Health Service (NHS), there must be a full clinical assessment of the patient by the general practitioner, the plastic surgeon and, where appropriate, a psychiatrist or psychologist. It should be recognised that many of these patients are deserving and should have the opportunity of surgery as there is significant social, psychological and physical benefit to be gained. However, at present cosmetic (aesthetic) surgery on these grounds is perceived as low priority. Surgery carried out purely for beautification or rejuvenation cannot be justified within the NHS, this is when individuals must seek private surgery.

According to the NHS, plastic surgery can be defined as “The branch of surgery concerned with restoration of form and function by reconstruction of congenital, traumatic and acquired conditions.” Plastic surgery is a specialty dedicated to the enhancement of the face and body. For those who wish to improve their appearance, cosmetic surgical procedures offer patients the opportunity to reshape physical features and improve their self-esteem. It comes from the Greek word plastikos, which means to remake and shape. It has nothing to do with the artificial material, plastic.

The NHS definition for cosmetic surgery is that “Cosmetic surgery means procedures to improve appearance, it is also known as aesthetic surgery.” Although cosmetic surgery was introduced first in America, from enlargement to reduction, liposuction to lifts. Cosmetic (aesthetic) surgery is rapidly becoming the norm in modern society. The norm is not with a particular age group, it may be a bikini-clad model trying to improve her success by getting implants, or a 60-year old woman wanting a face lift to try and change her life by looking youthful again.

These messages are heard everywhere, and the topic of image and beauty have generated much controversy, and everyone from religious leaders to movie stars has had their say. While some individual’s believe that any physical alteration is an insult to the creator, and something that should not be altered, some more liberal people strongly support an individual’s freedom of choice.

The question of whether cosmetic (aesthetic) surgery is right or wrong has no definitive answer. However the motives and reasons for this obsession with beauty and where it originates from shall be further examined. Whether people realise it or not, humans are heavily influenced by the media. The media reinforces views on beauty via the power of suggestion, painting an image that people interpret as they choose to. Companies such as Calvin Klein, Guess, and Cover Girl all have one thing in common, and that is, that they all silently scream to viewers that the way to feel happy is to copy their billboard portrayal of beauty. This is some of the reason behind people straightening noses, getting enhancement of their lips, removing unwanted fat, and reshaping cheekbones.

Some individual’s can almost become addicted to cosmetic surgery. There is always something else they can have pinched or realigned, so they can achieve physical ‘perfection’. However for some to become ‘perfect’ physically, this is incredibly hard because there are numerous cultures in the world, but only a few dominate. Society makes it difficult not to associate a typically beautiful outer appearance with happiness and

success. A person who looks around his or her community discovers that the affluent, intelligent and happy people all belong to a specific group, and begin to make connections.

People actively observe the society around them. People create society and are created by society. Eventually, people use external characteristics to define people, these include the number of cars someone has, to whether or not someone may depend on welfare, or whether someone attended university. For the vast majority, this probably carries little or no consequence. Generalizing becomes a problem, however, when someone is part of a group not connected with prosperity. These individuals may be easily categorised by others on the basis of appearance alone. Partly because of the media, some people may actively seek to acquire the look that will place them in a desired group.

Surgery is becoming almost as common, and as socially acceptable as visiting the dentist, and the range of treatments available has expanded beyond the bottom lift or tummy tuck. Over the last decade, demand for the most common cosmetic surgery procedures, like breast enlargements and nose jobs, has increased by more than 400 per cent. According to the ‘London Diary, Britain: Cosmetic Surgery of Europe’ by Gerd Treuhaft, “Britain has topped the first ever European league table for people paying for plastic surgery.

Doctors here carried out 24,335 operations in 2000, more than double the number performed in Germany. In Europe only France came close with 21,221 operations and Span 10,803. Only Americans and Brazilians are keener to go under the knife for the sake of appearance. The British spend an estimated � 180 million each year on facelifts, breast enlargements and nose jobs. Woman make up 87 per cent of patients overall. But in Turkey, Sweden and Japan the male proportion tops 20 per cent. The most popular treatment in the UK is Botox a substance injected just under the skin to erase lines. Collagen injections, which smooth out wrinkles and pump up lips, were second.”

The media however is not all one sided, although they try and portray cosmetic surgery as glamorous both through magazines, journals, and television. For example “Face Lift Diaries” on ITV at 8.30pm on Friday’s, tries to represent cosmetic surgery as nothing major, and something that should be turned to without much thought and consideration. They also only show the pros of having this surgery, never the bad side effects. However having mentioned the role the media play in trying to portray cosmetic surgery as attractive and glamorous.

They do also shed light to the possible downfalls of cosmetic surgery. They do this in a number of ways, one being that in some magazines they show pictures of famous people who have had surgery, and as a consequence they either look worse or it has gone wrong, an example of which is Lesley Ash being featured in the ‘Heat Magazine’ February Edition. They were discussing how much worse she looked after the surgery, and how if she were to try and revert it she would look even worse. The media revealing such information must help people when deciding if they want treatment.

They also expose possible dangers in getting cosmetic surgery. For example, the media coverage of the 1992 dispute over regulation of silicone breast implants, devices suspected of causing autoimmune disorders and neurological diseases, became in itself a part of this bitter controversy. Many physicians were angry at the coverage, accusing journalists of projecting their personal opinion, of irresponsible sensationalism, of jumping to conclusions without listening to experts. They blamed the media for creating unnecessary fear. This shows that the media can also work towards society beneficially, in highlighting issues of concern, and making individuals more aware to the dangers of such treatment.

Michael Jackson is a much talked about famous individual, particularly when regarding his cosmetic surgery. Although Michael Jackson admits to having two cosmetic surgery treatments, both on his nose, and only for health reasons. He denies that he has undergone extensive surgery for any other reason. There have been many articles showing pictures of how he has changed over the years, he looks like a completely different person. In a television document recently, two cosmetic surgeons were asked how many cosmetic

surgery treatments it would take for the extreme changes in Michael Jackson’s appearance. They estimated that it would be some where in the region of thirty-fifty. That is taking cosmetic surgery to the ultimate levels. Firstly his hair became less ethnic and more European looking, and he then slowly began to alter other features. His broad, unmistakably Negroid nose became narrow, his rounded chin became square and more defined, and with each new album release, from ‘Thriller’ to ‘Bad’, his dark skin seemed to become progressively paler. In what appeared to be a testament to his media savvy, Michael Jackson emerged from his persona as the youngest, cutest member of Jackson 5 to the persona as an internationally recognisable black superstar with long, straight hair, delicate features, and light skin. See diagram below.