The increasing interest in physical appearance, driven in part by the use of social media, has motivated many teenagers and adults to undergo plastic surgery and other aesthetic procedures. At the same time, research being conducted around the world has led to the development of many new techniques and operations. It seems that with or without surgery, we may now be able to get the look we want more safely and easily than ever. But although the physical side effects are becoming less significant as a result of the scientific and technological advances in cosmetic procedures, the risk of other problems is increasing, not least in the consequences to society. Are we all starting to look the same? As technology evolves, it appears that in a few years having an operation will be as easy as getting a haircut. But will it really? Where is this industry going?
What the Latest Technology Offers
Virtual Reality Before Cosmetic Surgery
With the help of new simulation technologies, it’s possible to obtain a three-dimensional view of a specific area of your body and to review your planned changes with your doctor prior to surgery. For instance, virtual reality glasses allow you to feel as if you’re seeing your body’s altered appearance in the mirror. Such applications can decrease the anxiety caused by not being able to predict the outcome of the operation beforehand.
You may have already seen the reality TV show “Botched,” in which two doctors attempt to correct bad plastic surgery results. Dr. Paul Nassif, one of the costars, has said in an interview that the new generation of aesthetic procedures is focused on nonsurgical applications, which are suited to today’s fast-paced lifestyle. Even though the results may not be permanent, such procedures are popular because they cause less interruption in people’s daily routines.
For instance, laser technology is increasingly being used by practitioners not only for treating acne or scars, but also for skin tightening. It’s claimed that with advanced-generation lasers, it’s possible to achieve significant results and a firmer skin, even in a single session. Laser technology can also be used to get rid of cellulite and postpartum stretch marks. After such procedures, a person may sometimes be able to return to his/her daily activities within a few days.
With new-generation techniques, augmentation operations, especially for the breasts, are performed with surgical devices that do not require manual contact, and this enables the placement of silicone implants with much smaller incisions. So, there are more people lining up for procedures that they think will make them look like a Kardashian, because it seems so easy.
Hyaluronic acid fillers, most often used in facial areas, are popular due to their low cost and immediate results. Plumping of the lips and even nasal augmentation are among the applications possible, as is filling in of creases around the mouth to reduce the appearance of aging.
Indeed, many cosmetic techniques are intended to make people look younger. In today’s society, who wants to get older? And if we can’t stop the process of getting old, maybe we can at least stop looking old. Botox is another “quick-fix” technique used for the face, in this case to diminish wrinkles. The “desired” view is achieved in a few minutes and may last for up to six months. A new method known as micro-Botox is said to be safer because it involves injecting a lower dose of the drug.
Also used to counter wrinkles on the face as well as bagging around the eyes and jawline is Ultherapy, which uses ultrasound technology to direct sound waves to the skin surface for the purpose of stimulating the formation of collagen. This application, which may take as little as half an hour, is intended to create a firmer face.
What Are the Hidden Risks?
Statistics say that cosmetic surgery has become a $16 billion business each year in the US alone. People aged 35–50 have the most procedures performed. Up to 92 percent of cosmetic patients are women, seeking quick fixes.
What has happened is that society’s standards concerning beauty, which are imposed especially on women, are rising. Women who might suffer because they fall short of these ideals can now more easily changes their bodies; however, the psychological risks of seeking perfection persist.
“Patients may never be fully prepared for the mental and emotional costs of cosmetic surgery,” warns psychiatrist Joseph Hullett, as quoted in an article in Forbes magazine. At first everything may seem perfect, but after we’ve seen what new technologies can offer, we often want more, since our own standards are also rising. We get “improvement” by means of an operation, but at the same time we’re getting further from “perfect” each day, as the limits we perceive become unattainable.
And more importantly, we need to ask ourselves whether or not we are at risk of losing our individuality and uniqueness as human beings.