When you hear the words “plastic surgery”, what do you think of? A Beverly Hills celebrity trying to escape the effects of aging? This pair, who have gone to extreme measures to look like a real-life Barbie and Ken?
The truth is, there are a lot of misconceptions about plastic surgery. It’s often fueled by what we hear and see on TV and in magazines. But plastic surgery is not just about looks, nor is it only for wealthy celebrities or a shortcut to weight loss.
Let’s clear up the misinformation and take a look at some common myths about plastic surgery:
1. Plastic surgery = cosmetic surgery
There’s a lot of confusion around these two terms, as they are often used interchangeably. But they are actually two different things. “Cosmetic surgery” is about making the body look a certain way for the sake of aesthetics. It’s usually done out of choice, rather than necessity.
It’s also a more generic term than plastic surgery. Many doctors from different specialties have ventured into “cosmetic” procedures. For example, an ophthalmologist may have training in cosmetic procedures involving the eye area. However, only physicians who have specialized in “plastic surgery” are recognized as board-certified plastic surgeons. That means they’ve had five years of general surgical training and another two years of plastic surgery training. Plastic surgeons are licensed to perform all types of cosmetic and plastic surgery and are knowledgeable on the nuances of each.
The distinction may be confusing, so it’s always a good idea to ask about a doctor’s specific board certifications if you are considering a procedure.
2. Plastic surgery is all about looks
Sure, we always hear about the latest celebrity who got a nose job, breast lift, or Botox. But what about the teenager who has his jaw rebuilt after a car accident? Or the baby who gets cleft lip surgery? Or the woman who undergoes breast reconstruction after cancer? There’s so much more to plastic surgery than what we read about in the tabloids. Plastic surgery can correct birth defects or be a second shot at normalcy after an injury or illness. Plastic surgeons also care about function (though they do always optimize for looks). And when a patient does get surgery for cosmetic reasons, it’s often for areas that are not addressable by diet, weight loss, or nonsurgical procedures.
3. It’s only for the rich and famous
Nope. If only the 1% does plastic surgery, plastic surgeons would run out of business! Most patients who undergo plastic surgery are average people who want to enhance their appearance, improve their self-confidence, or otherwise better their lives. And it’s not a luxury reserved for the very wealthy, either. Technology has caused procedures to become less invasive and more affordable, which has helped increase the number of people who choose to undergo plastic surgery. According to data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were 21.7 million people who got plastic surgery in the US in 2015 (15.9 million cosmetic and 5.8 million reconstructive). You can check out the most common types of procedures done here.
4. It’s only for women
Contrary to popular belief, cosmetic surgery is not gender-specific. And the number of men who are pursuing cosmetic surgery is rising. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, the most popular procedures amongst men are Botox, hair transplantation/restoration, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion and liposuction (in that order). About 1.3 million cosmetic procedures were performed on men in 2015, comprising about 8% of all cosmetic procedures performed.
5. Liposuction: a quick and easy weight loss solution
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “liposuction?” Perhaps you envision fat literally being sucked out of a person’s body. And if that’s what you’re thinking, you’re not wrong. But that does not mean liposuction is a shortcut to significant weight loss. Liposuction can remove up to ten to twelve pounds of fat at MOST. It’s designed more as a means for patients to remove fat from trouble spots after first losing most of their weight through non-surgical methods (diet and exercise).
The procedure could be a good option for someone who is in general good health, has a workout routine, and is looking for very slight adjustments – say, reducing love handles. Surgeons will almost always ask you to lose as much weight as you can first, because when you lose weight through diet and exercise, you lose weight throughout your entire body. Then, liposuction can help target those remaining tough spots.
There’s more to plastic surgery than what we see in the media. People who choose to undergo plastic surgery come from all ages, genders and backgrounds. And their motivation can be to improve their appearance, but also to get back to a normal and fulfilling life. When making the decision to get plastic surgery, cut through the myths and do what will allow you to be the best version of yourself.
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