Let’s be honest, some people in today’s society attach stigmas to plastic surgery – some may be good but others can be scathing. Everyone has an opinion on just about everything these days and I find myself still being disappointed by the negative comments I read on cosmetic plastic surgery articles. In my over 22 years of plastic surgery experience, the main motivator that pushes me to do better and work harder is the positive way plastic surgery can change lives. It’s the giant smile on a mother of three’s face when she expresses she never thought she’d see her youthful body again, the teenager who is excited to be able to swim with his friends without feeling embarrassed by his male breasts, and the tears of joy from a young woman in her 20s who had stopped looking at herself in the mirror because her nose was all she could see – it’s for all of them, and those to come that I do it. So when I see such judgment being directed towards those that choose plastic surgery because they want nothing more than to lead a happy, active lifestyle, I feel the need to speak up. Even though certain tabloids and media outlets love to cover the most bizarre and often over the top, one in a million fanatical cases, plastic surgery is not a freak show.
For many people, plastic surgery is the only way to help reduce functional body issues some active men and women face on a daily basis. I saw an article over the past few months that claimed more women were electing to have labiaplasty (a procedure that reduces the folds of skin surrounding the vulva, called labia majora and labia minora) because they weren’t happy with the way they looked in yoga pants. That type of motivation is purely cosmetic and not exactly a reason that I would have ever considered before reading that article, but for the aspiring dancer who can barely move without having extreme discomfort due to chafing or the teenager whose period causes incapacitating labial swelling and pain, this type of procedure is life changing.
Our bodies are not symmetrical and many of us have quirks that make each of us unique. It’s when day-to-day living is a physical struggle or when a person’s health is at risk that plastic surgery becomes the type of treatment that is most effective. Men who have gynecomastia, the medical condition where they have oversized male breasts, can cause an immense amount of insecurities that keep them hiding inside. Exercise is vital for both brain function and nourishing the body so we can perform at our best. Women with overly large breasts also find themselves in a similar boat in regards to health concerns. Large breasts can contribute to chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain, leaving it virtually impossible to properly exercise without experiencing discomfort. Instead of suffering day in and day out, these types of cases look to breast reduction (for women) and male breast reduction to alleviate the excess fatty tissue and skin that make up their once pendulous and extremely heavy breasts.
The thigh gap concept was also another “trend” I saw that got a lot of attention but also added some negative opinions of body contouring. Instead of certain body contouring procedures being accredited for helping patients with what I like to call “friction syndrome” (like when the inner thigh rubs together constantly to the point of causing clothes to feel uncomfortable, chafing, and pain) that interferes with walking and simply being able to function without being miserable, the benefits are being overshadowed. But whether a patient chooses to go with liposuction or a thigh lift to address their lower body or the SculpSure™ nonsurgical fat reduction method, they’re alleviating a genuine concern that is persistently bothersome – and there’s nothing freakish about any of that in my opinion.
Thanks to advancements in technology and the constant improving of surgical techniques, patients have access to more options today than ever before. The internet and social media certainly have become hot beds for conversations and shared opinions on all things plastic surgery, but at the very core, the choice for a person to undergo any surgical procedure should be extremely important, personal, and shouldn’t be dictated based on societal views and prejudices. Vanity will perhaps always exist but I think keeping an open mind when considering the pieces of a person’s story we may not know, before lumping them into negative stereotypes, will foster a stronger support system within our community and view those who benefit from plastic surgery in a more positive light.