An Assessment of Aesthetic Augmentation - Aesthetics Week


By Meredith Schneider

Breast Augmentation Surgeons performing the surgerical procedure in Los Angeles, Ca. All images courtesy of Dr. Vishal Kapoor, MD.

“Aesthetic enhancement,” otherwise known as plastic surgery, is by no means a new addition to society. It is still one that is becoming increasingly popular among Americans, with over 3 million procedures performed last year alone. As with most risky procedures, it can have positive effects when used in moderation, but along with plastic surgery comes, of course, the good, the bad, and the especially ugly.

According to the 2012 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the top five reconstructive procedures included tumor removal (4.2 million), laceration repair (291,000), maxillofacial surgery (209,000), scar revision (171,000), and hand surgery (123,000). Reconstructive surgeries were reported to have been up 1 percent from 2011.

As amazing and life-changing as these procedures can be, a huge market for plastic surgeons are those looking for cosmetic procedures done just for the sake of looking different. Among them, the top five cosmetic procedures in 2012 were breast augmentation (286,000), nose reshaping (243,000), eyelid surgery (204,000), liposuction (202,000), and facelift (126,000).

We see successful and not-so-successful examples of aesthetic preservation and enhancement in Hollywood all the time. Jane Fonda, Mickey Rourke, Portia de Rossi, Daryl Hannah, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Paul Stanley, Pete Burns, Donatella Versace, and Courtney Cox are just a few of celebrities who have undergone surgery for cosmetic reasons.

Whether those procedures were successful or not, only you can be the judge. But these celebrities are driving pseudo-celebrities to surgery with the Hollywood expectations of how a person should look. It seems like the best (and worst) examples of plastic surgery can be found in reality television, where people like Heidi Montag (of MTV’s The Hills), Kris Jenner (Keeping Up With The Kardashians), JWoww (Jersey Shore), Farrah (16 & Pregnant), and Alexis Bellino (Real Housewives of Orange County) have all gone in for some type of enhancement.

A spike in plastic surgery procedures can usually be associated with with public figures and their decisions to go under the knife. Upper arm lifts have become a fad and—according to—have jumped 4,378 percent since 2000. With the rapid-fire, instant gratification ideal that is media these days, it is no wonder people are seeing the process work quickly for their celebrity idols or peers and want to try it themselves.

“A study from researchers in Berlin reported that scanning friends’ Facebook pages and photos can trigger feelings of envy and even loneliness,” says Time Health & Family. It was also noted that the TODAY Show polled American moms to find that almost half of those polled were sufferers of “Pinterest stress,” the concern that they are not as clever and productive as they could be and will not measure up to other mothers.

Studies such as these make it clear that a common factor in people’s decisions to have surgery is pressure from the people around us. To see people on social media or plastered all over the news with what we deem as “perfect looks” can inspire some of the most intense transformations in a person. The Toronto Sun reports that “cosmetic plastic surgeons say that commonly-mentioned celebrities [to model surgeries after] include Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez, and reality TV stars Kim Kardashian and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino.”

And don’t think the list of plastic surgery survivors stops with women, because there have been more and more men having procedures recently. Including the aforementioned men, people like Bruce Jenner, Rupert Everett, Carrot Top, Enrique Iglesias, Kenny Rogers, and Rick Springfield have all clearly had cosmetic surgery.

Returning to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons 2012 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report, the top five male cosmetic surgical procedures are nose reshaping (62,000), eyelid surgery (29,000), liposuction (23,000), breast reduction in men (21,000), and facelift (12,000).

Some more outlandish plastic surgeries for men include mustache surgery, chest hair implants, voice-deepening, “ball ironing”, and calf implants. Although the stats are up for men, they still make up only 9 percent of all cosmetic procedures.

Some more jaw-dropping information? Thirteen to 19-year-olds make up 2 percent of the plastic surgery population, with 236,000 total cosmetic procedures in 2012. Some of their more common procedures included nose reshaping, ear surgery, and laser skin resurfacing.

Many concerns have been voiced in the wake of such booming numbers regarding teenagers, including the safety of surgery on a developing body. Changes are still occurring in the body between the ages of 18 and 21, which may eventually alleviate the individual from seeking surgeries such as breast augmentation. Furthermore, there have been no reported trials on the long-term effects of reconstructive surgery on teenagers.

The risks do not just lie with adolescents. According to, “Studies by implant manufacturers report that most women have at least one serious complication within the first three years, including infection, hematomas and seromas, capsular contracture, loss of nipple sensation, and hypertrophic scarring.”

Blood clots are a common concern of patients, which have been known to cause other serious medical issues, including death. Health insurance rarely covers corrective surgery. According to, Body Dysmorphic Disorder can bring repeat customers back in the form of plastic surgery addiction.

For the most recent report on all things plastic surgery, check out the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. And if you are considering a procedure, make sure to read on the pros and cons through recent medical information and academic journals.