Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cosmetic Surgery is Kinda Shady, Too


Writing in the New Statesman, Michael Brooks argues that “Cosmetic surgery is nothing more than an industrial-scale scientific experiment”. After 50 years, it is time to question its validity.

‘Viewing cosmetic surgery as an experiment means we should also submit it to ethical consideration. The Nuremberg Code governing experimentation on human subjects states that the individual "should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved"; that the experiment "should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods"; and: "Proper preparations should be made and adequate facilities provided to protect the experimental subject against even remote possibilities of injury, disability, or death." The great breast augmentation experiment does not meet these standards.

‘Cosmetic breast implantation is a flawed and ethically corrupt psychological experiment, carried out for commercial profit on vulnerable women. And it should now be halted.”

Brooks cites a Norwegian study in the March issue of Psychological Medicine which has dismal news for cosmetic surgeons. Researchers followed about 1,600 adolescent women over 15 years. Those with mental health problems were more likely to have cosmetic surgery, but the procedures did little to help them. On the contrary, they suffered more from anxiety, depression, eating disorders and alcohol abuse.

I have thought about having cosmetic surgery.

But the case of Micheline Charest has always haunted me.

Micheline Charest was the former head of CINAR, an animation production company that produced Caillou, Paddington Bear and other cartoons.

She went in to get a breast augmentation and she died on the operating table.

The futility of that death has always struck me.

Going in to get your boobs done-- and dying!

Heck, even women who in for abortions are trying to solve genuine problems.

Women who get breast implants just want to look good.

To put people at risk for the sake of looking good is wrong.

Other procedures don't hold the risk of dying, but the potential complications are still serious.

There were two reports recently about shady operations. One was a W5 investigation that showed the low standards of training for operating laser equipment (the kind used to do people's legs or erase birthmarks). The undercover investigator was given a diploma after spending an afternoon learning how to use it. Poor use of laser equipment can lead to serious burns.

Another report on the CBC focused on Botox injections.  I also learned that only a licensed physician can inject Botox, but there are many unlicensed operators who do so after a very superficial training session.

The problem with these set ups is that if something goes wrong medically, you're on your own. A trained medical professional would be able to assist with complications.

I often contemplate getting my fat melted off with new cosmetic procedures involving either intense heat or intense cold. These kinds of reports dissuade me. I would trust going to an actual doctor to get it done, but then, why should we encourage doctors to practice this kind of frivolous medicine instead of treating people with bona fide medical problems? Yes, fat is a problem but I can burn it off through diet and exercise if I really want to.

This is all reminiscent of abortion. Applying "medical" solutions to non-medical problems.  When the real solution lies elsewhere.