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Plastic patients seek to save face

Undo-plasties: A term cultivated by plastic surgeons and their disciples to refer to procedures that attempt to reverse the unnatural effects of a cosmetic surgery procedure.

In a recent edition of the Chicago Tribune, correspondent Kirsten Scharnberg explored the prevalence of these plasticity-reversing procedures in “After plastic surgeries, more do an about-face.”

“As plastic surgery has become increasingly common in America – some 16 million procedures were performed in 2007- so has the consumer backlash. Thousands of patients find themselves so displeased with the results of their surgeries that they are paying top dollar to undo what they had done,” Scharnberg said.

She noted that the rates of undo-plasties are so high that up to 50 percent of some doctors’ work is comprised of these cases and many now promote themselves as “revision plastic surgeons.”

Scharnberg quoted Dr. Andrew Jacono, a plastic surgeon at North Shore University Hospital in New York, who said many patients are bothered after a procedure leaves them with “standardized” and “cookie cutter” appearances.

“One out of about every two or three procedures I do is a revision surgery,” Jacono said. “Everyone kind of ends up looking the same.”

Wait – doesn’t the plastic surgery industry operate on a foundation of conforming to standardized concepts of beauty?

Small breasts, jiggly thighs, thin lips and crooked noses are all fatal flaws in the realm of homogenous beauty, let alone the apparently ravaging effects of age. Is that a wrinkled brow? A droopy eyelid? Quick, lift it and inject it with Restylane before the icky symptoms of maturity are revealed! Let me not forget the growing market for vaginal rejuvenation and labiaplasty – can anyone guess where women are getting these images?

Scharnberg told the story of a New York woman who regretted getting a nose job when she realized that she no longer looked “like herself” and accordingly had several more operations to “look like (herself) again.”

She also noted that many celebrities who have gone under the knife have since announced their dismay at their new features and often sought undo-plasties to replicate their natural appearances.

Scharnberg quoted musician and actress Courtney Love who, after undergoing a facelift, said she hated the results and wanted “the mouth God gave me.” Actress Annabelle Gurwitch said, “People are saying I look prettier, while I think I just look more standardized, like a new house where all the corners meet” after having plastic surgery to make her face more youthful-looking. Similarly, adult film star Jenna Jameson had her famous breast implants removed last year and remarked, “Why don’t I just be who I am?”

I find it odd that it comes as such a huge shock to plastic surgery patients to find themselves becoming representations of a “cookie-cutter” form of beauty post-plastic surgery. That is the bread and butter of the industry: Profiting off of people’s feelings of insecurity and shame when they do not resemble those who have been deemed beautiful in the media. It is okay if you don’t look generically perfect now – that can be promptly fixed inside a surgeon’s office.

I realize that not all plastic surgery patients choose to have work done for the same reasons, and I also realize that not all procedures are done out of vanity. I am also not trying to vilify those who have had plastic surgery or those who support it.

Beauty standards are things taught to people by their society and culture over time, not inherent preferences. The prevalence of token phrases like “I want to feel confident” and “I want to be attractive” as reasons for having plastic surgery only reflect such projections.

For anyone to refute that plastic surgery is fundamentally linked to people’s desire to acquire some quintessential beauty, is to deny its premise.

Furthermore, it is idiotic for those who get drastic cosmetic work done to be surprised when they wind up looking different than their previous natural selves. After all, that was the point.

Renee Sessions is a senior majoring in creative writing.