An Intro to Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is not yet well-defined as an area of practice. In reality, any surgical procedure or operation should produce a cosmetically-acceptable result. Many cosmetic procedures are now being applied to alleviate physical conditions as well as cosmetic: for instance, a nasal reconstruction to improve breathing, or a breast reduction alleviate pain in the spine and back.

The term "cosmetic surgery" is becoming more and more common place, thanks in part to its acceptance in Hollywood. Although many practitioners now refer to their field as "aesthetic surgery" there really is no difference between the two terms.

The desire to look youthful and attractive is not a new trend, and certainly isn't foreign to the United States. The improvement of one's own beauty is an assumed part of daily healthcare, and this is reflected in television commercials and magazine ads. Cosmetic surgery is becoming commonplace to the point that many women are comfortable discussing these types of procedures with friends or family members without guilt or apprehension. It is rare, of course, for someone to blatantly point out their cosmetic surgery results, and surgeons are becoming more sensitive to the needs of people who want to have their post-operative conditions shortened or disguised.

Preoccupation with a young-looking appearance in the United States is a primary factor in the rapid acceptance of cosmetic surgical procedures. This in turn has resonated into the workplace, where studies have shown (for better or for worse) that attractive, youthful-looking people are more likely to receive promotions and raises, or even get the job in the first place. The rise of these disparities and the presence of a large, aging-population, that has long-benefited from "medical miracles," in the workforce is leading to cosmetic surgery being adopted by Baby Boomers looking to maintain an edge on more youthful workplace competitors.

Of course, media has played a key role in influencing the acceptance of cosmetic surgery. Previously, plastic surgeons were not allowed to advertise their procedures, until the FTC decided this created an unfair situation and opened the doors. Plastic surgeons have now flooded the market with advertisements, which has increased the number of people willing to consider a procedure, and in turn increased the coverage of cosmetic surgery in newspapers, magazines and television programs.

Technically, dermatological surgeons are not "plastic surgeons" as they deal mostly in rejuvenizing the skin with chemical peels and other techniques. There are also qualified physicians who specialize only in surgical procedures on the head, face and neck who are not technically plastic surgeons. Those who are accepted by the American Board of Plastic Surgery are the only practitioners who are qualified to reconstruct or modify any part of the body (face and skin included).

Despite recent rises in health care costs, rates for cosmetic procedures are becoming increasingly affordable, primarily due to the fact that these elective surgereies are commonly paid for by the client alone. Some procedures, such as those intended to correct birth defects or improve the cosmetic aspect of trauma (like loss of limb or organ) may be covered under health insurance plans. Some procedures are becoming so affordable that they are packaged with vacation destinations and the patient's recovery is spent enjoying a relaxing holiday!