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
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
“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
“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.”