{Aired 04.26.14}

Today Real Talk’s discussion is about the pros and cons of plastic surgery as it becomes more and more anchored within our culture. No longer seen as a product for the rich and famous but is becoming mainstream.  Some say it enhances one’s self esteem and appearance while others are totally against it in any form. What is the medicine of plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery all about and what are the great divides that separate opinions about its role in our culture today.  This show focuses on  the positive effects of plastic surgery.

The subject of plastic surgery is a mixed bag of reviews and has a stigma attached to it. Typically people are either for or against it.  On which side of the aisle do you sit?  Perhaps there is a lack of understanding about this  field of medicine/surgery  in general. Maybe you know someone who had it done and the results were disastrous. Maybe you believe everything you’ve read about it and think its all vanity. And maybe you yourself are not a candidate for anything – at least not yet – and you cannot understand why anyone would subject themselves to surgery. You think its just about  people wanting to imitate and look like a specific celebrity – in other words its complete vanity. Some people think it is wrong and a sin against God – there are blogs written about this – people really can be very closed minded when it comes to this subject.

5 Major Reasons Why Plastic Surgery is Popular

  • Health
  • Accidents
  • Self Esteem
  • Reconstructive
  • Vanity

With this kind of demand, the industry has modernized and organized with increased safety guidelines, improved techniques, faster recovery time, and technological advances but still remain true to their first mission to restore the natural. In fact the father of modern plastic surgery Sir Harold Gillies developed many of the techniques of modern facial surgery in caring for soldiers suffering from disfiguring facial injuries during the First World War.

How Plastic Surgery Heals

Combat Trauma – charities like PROJECT CARE  came to fruition as a result of combat trauma and training accidents. This group chooses military personnel who suffer major, life-altering injuries, including the loss of limbs and severe disfigurement. This trauma leads to emotional distress & an altered self image. The benefits of reconstructive surgery is life changing for these soldiers.

Congenital Birth Defects –  Groups such as American Association of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery started the program Face to Face to help patients abroad that were born with congenital birth defects. A plastic surgeon will donate their time in hopes to eliminating the amount of physical limitations a child may endure with birth defects.

Accidents & Disease – many people surviving horrific accidents and disease are at times left with massive surgical scars that were made to save their lives.  RECONSTRUCTING LIVES is a blog dedicated to sharing these  stories and how plastic surgeons volunteered their services to help restore the patient’s body. From cancer to car accidents many people never really consider who the surgeon is that helps bring back their natural self.

Women & Domestic Violence – Over five million women a year are affected by domestic violence in the United States with over one million victims require medical attention. In the United States, a woman is beaten every nine seconds by an intimate or former partner leaving 75 % of women who are in an abusive relationship in need of surgery to the face and head area. Women are more often victims of domestic violence than victims of burglary, muggings or other physical crime combined. The first surgical group to take a firm stand against domestic violence – American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery when they created the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  This group is responsible  for a majority of shelters in the United States – FACE TO FACE: The National Domestic Violence Project. Individuals are helped emotionally as well as physically. After the victim is safely away from the violent relationship, surgery is performed to repair damaged facial features and to hopefully alleviate the painful memories of past abuse. This initiative hopes to end the cycle of abuse, enhance their self-esteem and begin to rebuild their lives. Participating AAFPRS surgeons offer complimentary consultation and surgery to survivors of domestic violence.

 Morbid obesity  – Many Americans struggle with their weight and even morbid obesity. When surgical intervention is needed and patients seek gastric bypass surgery to save their lives there may be a need to remove excessive skin. This skin hangs and creates a climate for infections, dermatitis and other embarrassing ailments. At the hands of a plastic surgeon these patients will undergo upper and lower body lifts to alleviate the pain and embarrassment of excess skin.

Breast Reconstruction – With technological advancements women now know they have options when surviving breast cancer. After a mastectomy, plastic surgeons will rebuild a woman’s breasts using skin from her tummy or back. This procedure is covered by insurance including the breast implants used to restore the breasts. After a combination of a tummy tuck and breast augmentation women no longer have to live with the scars of a mastectomy but rather a restored body along with a healthy perception of their body.

Reconstructive Surgery – More than 5 million reconstructive plastic surgery procedures are performed yearly in the United States. Many of them are life-changing for patients and for the surgeons themselves.

Before we judge, consider why. I wonder if those people have ever felt the depression and desperation of a person involved in a motor vehicle accident that altered the individuals  physical appearance to the extent  they no longer recognize the image staring back at them in the mirror.

The Positive Effects of Plastic Surgery

Self Esteem – Many studies have been conducted to show the positive effects of plastic surgery. The number of teens requesting surgery is increasing due to bullying.  As controversial as it may be self esteem can be restored with procedures like otoplasty (pinning of the ears; can be done as early as 7 years old) or nose jobs(rhinoplasty; can be done as early as 13 years old). The group Little Baby Face Foundation was created by surgeons to help children with birth defects and low self esteem due to facial abnormalities. Cosmetic procedures are used to help the patient’s self confidence and over all mental health. Self esteem and self confidence are essential to living a happy, fulfilled life.