Friday, August 10, 2007

The Risks of "Fitting In"

Breast enhancements. They are now the most popular of all surgeries (in the U.S.) followed only by liposuction and eyelid surgery. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 329,396 enlargements were performed last year; up 13% from 2005. So why are those numbers scary? Recently, a new study* came out showing that women who got these surgeries were more likely to commit suicide. The study followed 3,527 Swedish women from between 1965 and 1993. (Breast cancer patients who had reconstruction surgery were not included.)

Scientists then documented the women for as long as 29 years after the surgery. At first, the risk of suicide was the same. But from 10 to 19 years after the surgery, the risk jumped to 4.5 times higher and 6 times higher after 20 years. Other studies have shown us that, sadly, many of the women (15%) who get plastic surgery have body dysmorphic disorder. People with this disorder have rarely benefited from enhancement surgery.

Researchers also said alcohol/drug dependence and deaths related to mental disorders increased 3 times. However, some researchers discredit the study, saying that the results aren't appropriate for women today because breast augmentation is more "acceptable now than it was 40 years ago"(L.A. Times). Right. If anything, we have even more pressure to look perfect today. 80% of women in the U.S. are unhappy with the way they look (Love Your Body); so the danger is very real.

It was only last year that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifted the 14 year ban on silicone-filled implants because there wasn't enough evidence that they were unsafe. Still, the FDA has called for a 10 year study (on 10,000 women who receive the surgery) to look for long-term side effects. Hopefully, they gather enough research to, once again, place a ban on the silicone-filled implants.

What's your opinion on plastic surgery? Is it good or bad? Should women be screened to see if they have body dysmorphic disorder before the surgery? Send in your answers.

*The study was published in the August issue of the Annals of Plastic Surgery.

Peace, friends.


Angel said...

I think that plastic surgery depends on the woman. If the only reason she's getting surgery is to be more attractive, or if she thinks it's the only way to happiness, there's bound to be a bad outcome, mentally.

Personally, I'm a 37 yr old mom of 2 (1 daughter, 12, and 1 son, 5). I am working to lose quite a bit of weight for health reasons. I will be having plastic surgery partly for comfort (as in a breast reduction due to back/neck pain) and partly to "rearrange" things after having 2 kids and gaining quite a bit of weight. It's something I have thought about for a long time, researched carefully, and thought about the impact on myself and my family. The things I want done cannot be fixed by eating healthy and exercise alone.

So, I can't say that plastic surgery is bad, outright. But I think it is overused and abused and should never be done on children (thinking of the 12 yr old who just had lap-band surgery after having a tummy tuck and lipo ::shaking head::)

I love this blog, and my daughter adores your magazine. Keep up the great work!

Natalie said...

I think that its wrong that a lot of women are spending LOADS of money just to get bigger breasts....I also find it wrong that men usually like women because of there breast size. Our society needs to focus more on inner personality, then outer "beauty". Keep up the great work!

Lilly said...

In general, I am opposed to plastic surgery. I think true beauty comes from within and I would never wish to perpetuate the media myths that women are supposed to look a certain way to be beautiful.

That said, I have had plastic surgery and believe I can admit this without being hypocritical. I think we need to acknowledge that there are “different” kinds of plastic surgery. I have a large nose, among numerous other bodily imperfections that I once hated; now I’ve learned to love and embrace these “flaws” and would never dream of having them “fixed” with plastic surgery. I understand that these are some of the things that make me, me. But I underwent breast reduction surgery as a 20-year-old. Before my health care provider suggested I have the surgery, I’d struggled with the concept. I didn’t want to have to have plastic surgery just to feel better about myself. But the truth was, besides being plagued with low self-esteem from the unwanted attention and blatantly rude comments I often received from others, I was suffering from back, neck, and shoulder pain and other various ailments related to my disproportionate breast-size.

When my doctor talked to me about having the surgery, she told me it would change my life. I was nearly in tears as I realized what she was telling me and the possibility it would hold. I had the surgery five months later and I have never once regretted this decision. It did change my life. I feel better about myself and I can find clothing that actually fits. But I’ll always remember the negative and hurtful comments that contributed to my decision to have the surgery, and that’s what feels so wrong about plastic surgery. Even though I made my choice and stand by it, I wish that I had made it completely on my own. I wish that those people would have been compassionate and understanding, rather than hurtful: pointing out the size of my breasts to me – as if I hadn’t been attached to them, as if I didn’t notice them!

Though I was the first in my family to have plastic surgery, they all embraced my decision. I believe breast reduction surgery is just another – albeit extreme – medical procedure. The truth is, sometimes I feel degraded when people bash plastic surgery and those who have it without making any sort of qualification or exception to their statements. I’m not a vain, plastic surgery junkie and I will never have another cosmetic surgery in my life. But I do I wish women could walk proudly in our society, no matter their flaws, as I wish I could have done. That’s the issue here – why are women and adolescent girls driven to plastic surgery in the first place? We all need to work together to tell the world that we are beautiful – no matter what.