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The Dangers Of Illegal Plastic Surgery In A Beauty-fixated Culture
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“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
- Betty Friedan
“I turned 55 today,” is a statement that not many people are willing to proclaim today. Rather than feeling proud to be recognized and respected as an elder by their communities, many suffer from a fear of growing old.
In the U.S. market alone, consumers spend $80 billion on anti-aging products annually, and that number is estimated to rise to more than $114 billion by 2015, according to market research. People are desperately seeking new ways to slow the aging process or find the next breakthrough, cutting-edge, age-defying procedure. While most of us look at aging as a natural process that we can’t escape, there are those who approach aging with an enormous amount of dread and fear, and so they attempt to fight it tooth and nail.
The fear factor linked to aging and its perceived social stigma seem to play the catalyst when it comes to the rapidly growing number of people electing to go under the scalpel for the sake of good looks. In 2012, 14.6 million Americans underwent cosmetic plastic surgery, including both minimally-invasive and surgical procedures, according to statistics released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). In addition, 5.6 million reconstructive plastic surgery procedures were performed last year.
Although we have an ever-increasing population resorting to surgical and minimally-invasive procedures in order to feel confident in their skin, there are many who are in no financial position to afford these beauty-enhancing procedures. These people opt to seek out alternative, discounted procedures from non-qualified, illegal “cosmetic specialists.”
This past year alone saw multiple deaths resulting from black market buttocks injections, which have been reported in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada and New York. An interior decorator in Mississippi who passed herself off as a plastic surgeon — even though she was not board-certified and had not undergone proper training — faces trial in the deaths of two women who she injected with industrial grade silicon at her house after telling them that it was a “butt enhancing” procedure.
The situation is even more alarming in Venezuela, a country that has produced a string of beauty pageant winners over the past few decades. The country’s focus on beauty is in turn fuelling a cosmetic surgery craze among its citizens. Researchers estimate that more than 30 per cent of Venezuelan women between 18 and 50 have undergone one or more procedures in order to achieve an attractive figure. This superficial obsession has become the reason why many young Venezuelan women are dying slow, painful deaths as a result of illegal silicone buttock injections and other similarly unsafe procedures.
But beauty-conscious and cash-strapped women aren't the only ones willing to risk their health and lives by undergoing under-the-table cosmetic procedures. The trend of going under the knife has caught up to men too, as a recent ASAPS report shows that the amount of men choosing to undergo cosmetic buttock procedures has nearly tripled since 1997.
Whether it’s black market, industrial grade silicon injections or illegal anti-aging procedures, the risks that reduced-price cosmetic procedures pose far outweigh any of their promised results. Patients should always do their research when contemplating plastic surgery and should only select a board-certified plastic surgeon.
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