Lots of outrage last week about a viral video demonstrating “how much images of models are enhanced to look ‘perfect,’” or as one blog put it, the “Disturbing Airbrush Transformation Of Average Woman Before And After,” noting,
A top-voted comment on the YouTube video sums up a popular reaction to the Photoshop model video. "That, my friends, is society trying to hold you to an unachievable standard of beauty," writes Daniel S. "It is literally impossible to look like that: both anatomically and appearance-wise. The only way to you can look like the edited garbage is by completely rearranging your bone and skeletal structure."
If only Photoshop were the worst problem. In fact, in light of a story out today by the Market Watch/Wall Street Journal, called “10 things plastic surgeons won’t tell you; What to know before you and your wallet go under the knife,” we might be better off if Photoshop were the only option.
Here are some of the fun things you may not know about the $11 billion plastic surgery business:
- Those folks offering Botox? Many of them are trained during a weekend workshop offered by the “International Society of Cosmetogynecology, an organization that promotes plastic surgery as an extension of gynecology….”
- Complications from botched procedures can range from the cosmetic (think: frozen facial muscles) to the fatal, as in cases where patients have died from infections and other post-surgery complications.
- Patients should also be cautious about going abroad for treatments, some experts say. While a tummy tuck in a developing country might set you back $3,000, half of what it costs here, that savings can be easily swallowed up if complications occur. Dr. Eric Swanson, a plastic surgeon in Kansas City, Kan., says he treats patients who’ve had less-than-optimal surgeries abroad. In the case of a tummy tuck, he may have to fix the belly button scar or even redo the entire surgery. There are plenty of skilled surgeons abroad, says Swanson, who spent part of his training in Mexico City, but in some places doctors’ skill levels vary more than here, and regulations can also be more lax. “It’s not like taking a cheap cruise, where you’re not taking a chance with your life,” Swanson says.
- More than other specialists, plastic surgeons are under pressure to compete with one another, and an easy way to get the upper hand is to offer all the latest technology. Doctors are sometimes happy to try new techniques before the long-term effects are clear.
- Dr. Sam Rizk, a plastic surgeon in New York City, says 1 out of 3 of his rhinoplasty patients have had previous nose jobs. … The number of botched nose jobs he has repaired has soared over the past three to five years as more surgeons are performing the surgery who aren’t well trained or experienced, he says. … What’s more, “revision rhinoplasty” is a more complex procedure that can take twice or three times as long as the original surgery — and can cost 50% to 100% more, depending on what’s needed. Dr. David McDaniel, a dermatologist in Virginia Beach, Va., says he spends much more time these days correcting others’ mistakes with lasers and injectables than he did even a few years ago.
- Because any medical doctor can legally perform any cosmetic procedure, without obtaining any specific certification, and because certification boards are self-regulating, many certifications aren’t so telling. The American Board of Laser Surgery, for example, certifies nurses, veterinarians and oral surgeons in laser surgery — through a take-home written exam and video Web conference. (The American Board of Medical Specialties runs a website, CertificationMatters.org, where patients can see if their doctor is certified by a rigorous board.)
So maybe forget trying to look younger. How about just feeling better? Think herbal supplements are the answer for you? Well, yesterday, the New York Times published a story about a new study on herbal supplements:
Americans spend an estimated $5 billion a year on unproven herbal supplements that promise everything from fighting off colds to curbing hot flashes and boosting memory. But now there is a new reason for supplement buyers to beware: DNA tests show that many pills labeled as healing herbs are little more than powdered rice and weeds.…
Among their findings were bottles of echinacea supplements, used by millions of Americans to prevent and treat colds, that contained ground up bitter weed, Parthenium hysterophorus, an invasive plant found in India and Australia that has been linked to rashes, nausea and flatulence.
Two bottles labeled as St John's wort, which studies have shown may treat mild depression, contained none of the medicinal herb. Instead, the pills in one bottle were made of nothing but rice, and another bottle contained only Alexandrian senna, an Egyptian yellow shrub that is a powerful laxative. Gingko biloba supplements, promoted as memory enhancers, were mixed with fillers and black walnut, a potentially deadly hazard for people with nut allergies.
“This suggests that the problems are widespread and that quality control for many companies, whether through ignorance, incompetence or dishonesty, is unacceptable,” said David Schardt, a senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group. “Given these results, it’s hard to recommend any herbal supplements to consumers.”
Dr. David A. Baker, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive medicine who has studied supplements, “called the state of supplement regulation ‘the Wild West,’ and said most consumers had no idea how few safeguards were in place. ‘If you had a child who was sick and 3 out of 10 penicillin pills were fake, everybody would be up in arms. But it’s O.K. to buy a supplement where 3 out of 10 pills are fake. I don’t understand it. Why does this industry get away with that?’”