A Delicate Canvas

Oct 222003
Authors: Gabriel Dance

The canvas has been cleaned and clearly lined with a red marker.

The artist begins a delicate task that requires exacting control

coupled with intense concentration. There is no starting over. The

canvas splits along a line following the artist’s tool. Red begins

to spread over the artwork, but the artist wipes it off- he is a

sculptor, not a painter. Several hours later the sculptor steps

back. He’s pleased with his work and believes that his subject will

also approve. His work is symmetrical, has clean lines, good form

and the right firmness. It is the perfect breast.

Body Shaping Boom

Plastic surgery’s history dates back far before breast implants

and liposuction. It is an industry that was initially driven to

help reconstruct physical abnormalities as well as those wounded in

war. The United State’s first prominent plastic surgeon was Dr.

John Peter Mettauer who performed the pioneer cleft palate

operation in 1827, according to plasticsurgery.org. With the great

wars of the 20th century, doctors were encountering more

destructive facial and head injuries than ever before. However, as

plastic surgeons gained experience working with the impaired they

realized the possibilities for those without injury or abnormality

who were simply interested in looking better. Herein lies the

difference between reconstructive plastic surgery and cosmetic, or

aesthetic, surgery, both of which are commonly referred to simply

as plastic surgery.

Breast augmentation, which is commonly referred to as breast

implants, is just one of the many different types of cosmetic

surgery, and among the increasingly popular trend of cosmetic

surgery, breast augmentation is one of the most prominent.

“The most common cosmetic surgery in Fort Collins is breast

augmentation,” said Jeffrey Chapman, a cosmetic surgeon at the

Northern Colorado Plastic PC.

Recently Sharon Osbourne, wife to rock legend Ozzy Osbourne and

pop mom from “The Osbournes” MTV reality show, declared plastic

surgery “just like going to get your teeth cleaned.” Osbourne has

admitted to having operations, including a face lift, tummy tuck,

liposuction and breast augmentation.

But today cosmetic surgery goes far beyond just superstars,

millionaires and models. Some of the most common procedures include

tummy tucks, cosmetic eyelid surgery, breast reduction, liposuction

and nose reshaping. But those are just the surgical procedures.

Nonsurgical procedures, many using lasers and injections, are far

more popular and include Botox injections, which is the process of

deadening nerves to create smoother skin, chemical peels, collagen

injections and laser hair removal.

While not quite as common as going to the dentist, cosmetic

surgery is definitely becoming more popular. According to the

American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery there were nearly

6.9 million cosmetic surgical and non-surgical procedures performed

in 2002, a 228 percent increase from 1997. Females compromised 88

percent of the procedures while males accounted for 12 percent. The

top surgical procedure for both males and females was liposuction,

with nose reshaping coming in second for males and breast

augmentation holding the number two spot for females.

Media Shaping Us

Along with the boom in cosmetic surgery there has been a surge

of newspaper stories, television shows and magazine articles

focusing on the topic.

In the Oct. 6 issue of “Time” magazine the implications

associated with ethnicity and cosmetic surgery were addressed.

Although cosmetic surgery was originally thought of as an

upper-class procedure typically performed on Caucasians, that

perception is quickly changing. The number of nonwhite Americans

opting for cosmetic surgery has quadrupled since 1997, according to

www.time.com. The magazine article focused on an African-American

woman who wanted to change the shape of her nose without making it

“look white,” an unusual request in light of the fact that in

cosmetic surgery the ideal nose generally has stereotypically

“white” characteristics.

One of the most popular new television shows, FX’s “Nip/Tuck,”

also dealt with this issue in a recent episode where a white man

had his eyes cosmetically altered to appear Chinese in order to

satisfy his fianc�e’s mother. The demand within the field of

cosmetic surgery to change physically ethnic characteristics is

steadily becoming more common place.

Another article in the Aug. 21 issue of “People” magazine

recently featured famous personalities who had undergone cosmetic

surgery such as the aforementioned Sharon Osbourne, Roseanne Barr,

Melanie Griffith, Queen Latifah and Pamela Anderson.

“It was like opening Pandora’s Box,” Osbourne said in the


“Ozzy said anyone who gets one tattoo wants another one. I think

plastic surgery is like tattoos. If you’re happy with the results,

then you push the button again and again.”

She does counter that though with some advice to younger


“You have to be you and know who you are,” she said. “It takes

years to do that. When you hear these girls who get graduation

gifts of nose jobs, it’s like, hey, wait a little to see who you


A June article by Reuters posted on MSNBC.com discussed another

recent trend in cosmetic surgery- men are becoming more common

customers. The article stated that contrary to the previous year

when men’s use of Botox, laser resurfacing, collagen injections and

skin smoothing decreased, they had all risen in 2002. During last

year, men’s use of Botox jumped 88 percent and fat injections were

up 497 percent. Chapman has also observed this within his own

private practice.

“The number of males having cosmetic surgery in FortCollins is

on the rise,” he said. “Rhinoplasty (nose reshaping) is the most

common male procedure that I perform.”

ABC’s and check out “Extreme Makeover” takes the idea of

cosmetic surgery to a whole new level. Using the skills of what ABC

calls an “Extreme Team” comprised of plastic surgeons, eye surgeons

and cosmetic dentists, the show features two people per episode who

undergo various procedures in their quest to become beautiful. An

example of just how extreme the show is Liane from Upton, Wyo.

Liane had nose reshaping, fat injections in the face, lower eye

lift, face and neck lift, pre-hairline brow lift, erbium laser of

the mouth, breast augmentation, liposuction of the thighs and teeth


Shaping our Values

At the forefront of the controversy surrounding cosmetic surgery

is questions about patients motives.

“The best surgeon in the world can’t help you if your motivation

is wrong or if your expectations are unrealistic,” according to The

Institute for Cosmetic Surgery. “You should be doing it for


Approaching cosmetic surgery “won’t turn you into a movie star

and it won’t turn an unhappy life into a happy one,” says the

Institute’s web page.

Sharon Osbourne has a different outlook.

“For me, if something bothers you about your appearance, just

get it changed,” she said. “If you’re lucky enough to be in a

position to afford it, if it makes you feel better about yourself,

go for it. You’re not hurting anyone.”

The age at which the surgery is performed is another debate that

continues to become more controversial with the ease and popularity

of cosmetic surgery. In 2001 a doctor in Britain rejected a

parent’s request to give their daughter breast implants for her

16th birthday saying that the daughter’s body and breasts in

particular hadn’t developed to the point where alteration was a

viable option. This sparked a large media interest in Britain with

American cosmetic surgery at the forefront. However nose jobs and

breast implants are not uncommon amongst teens. Many parents and

doctors feel as if cosmetic surgery could be what makes the

difference in the child’s life.

“There are no hard and fast guidelines (for teen cosmetic

surgery), you really have to make an evaluation,” said Gerald

Colman, a plastic surgeon with the Plastic Surgery Group in Albany.

“If something is interfering with a child’s life and development,

you can do miracles. You just see lives changed by this.”

All over the world cosmetic surgery is taking large steps in

different directions. A trend with Asian women is to have their

eyelids cosmetically altered and even their legs lengthened in

order to more fit the western view of beauty. Ethnically-sensitive

plastic surgeons are trying to open the field to all races in order

to allow them to experience cosmetic surgery, while still holding

onto their individual characteristics. With a rising number of

cosmetic procedures being performed within America comes an

ever-increasing awareness of the issues involved in such a

decision, however across the board cosmetic surgery is becoming

more acceptable.

“There is no question,” Chapman said. “Cosmetic surgery in

general is becoming more acceptable by the public. Another trend is

that people are more educated when they come in because of things

like the Internet.”




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