Women and Plastic Surgery

Published 26 Jun 2017


Plastic surgery pertains to the reconstruction of a part of the human body. The general reason behind a plastic surgical procedure involves the restoration of an area that has been disfigured due to injury or may just have happened to be born with such features that seem to be unfulfilling to the patient himself. The primary objectives of plastic surgery are to surgically repair physical defects, to restore lost function of a particular body part and to enhance an individual’s appearance. Plastic surgery is one of the oldest forms of surgery in the medical field. Reformation operations of the nose were first performed in prehistoric India as early as 2000 BC, wherein a caste of potters devised a method for transforming the nose into a part of the brow. Such technique is still employed in current plastic surgical procedures.

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There was controversy regarding reconstructive surgery during the ancient Greek and Roman eras. The development of essential plastic surgical techniques did not take place until about the 16th century, through the efforts of Italian physician Gasparo Tagliacozzi. In the 20th century, the psychotherapeutic significance of plastic surgery was established immediately after World War II, wherein war casualties of war carrying wounds and burns found a means to reconstruct their disfigured or lost parts and these individuals were able to receive cosmetic improvements as well.

The employment of plastic surgery during ancient times was then considered practical, unlike our current society, which perceives women as extremely vain if she attempts to receive plastic surgery in order to enhance her features. Our current society is influenced by media and several other factors to appear as good as they could. However, it should be taken to note that a great deal of our physical appearance is due to heredity and many aspects of the way we look are beyond our control. Height, body structure and eye and hair color are facial features that cannot, at present, be permanently altered. It is logical to eat a healthy diet and exercise before going through a procedure involving plastic surgery and more importantly, to make our body fit so that not only the physical features but also a physiologically healthy body is attained.

People concerned with maintaining a healthy body reasonably follow a battery of exercises and a routine diet. In order to optimize their physical appearance, women wear pleasing attire and jewels, have their hair styled and colored a certain way and use cosmetics. A significant number of women go through all of these activities for their own personal benefit, which is mainly based on what they see when they look into the mirror. Only a small fraction of women are satisfied with their appearance and most women would perform grooming activities to appear more pleasing to the eye. Regardless of whether efforts to enhance one’s personal features are to fulfill personal or some other physiological goal, such beautification efforts tend to be an individual’s unrestrained task. Beauty is inherent throughout the biological species and is a major constituent of attractiveness that serves more than just improving a species’ appearance.

Significance of the Project

This study aims to perform a literature review of current publications regarding plastic surgery among women in order to comprehensively discuss the importance of plastic surgery in relation to its impact on women’s physical appearance. The advantages and disadvantages of plastic surgery based on our current society’s standards will also be presented. This study will also illustrate the history of plastic surgery, including the development from ancient times to current surgical procedures.

Literature Review

Survey conducted among women show that majority of college-level women consider plastic surgery as an unnecessary medical procedure. Only five percent of college students in a current research expressed that they would request for cosmetic surgical treatment during their lifetime. It is interesting to know that most people who have undergone plastic surgery are generally financially capable and were influenced to undergo plastic surgery through the suggestion of their partners. A small number of college-level women received minor procedures in cosmetic surgery, commonly involving a small portion of their face being nipped, tucked or peeled and many have expressed that they would consider undergoing the procedure again sometime in the future, should the need arises.

Approximately 30% of women participating in the survey have indicated that they had undergone aesthetic surgery sometime within 1997 to 2003. Such significant increase in the number of women undergoing plastic surgery is mostly influenced by health advances, better public recognition of cosmetic surgery and the aggressive media possibly all contributed to that. Forty percent of women expressed that they would consider cosmetic surgery within the next few years. Almost half of the survey said that they would consider getting plastic surgery by middle age, and thirty three percent (33%) disclosed that they would consider it about it in their 60’s.

Women generally expressed favorable comments than unfavorable attitudes towards cosmetic surgery (Engler, 2000). Other participants of the survey showed lack of interest to plastic surgery while 43% declared that they have decided to receive plastic surgery and 32% disagreed with the declaration that people should receive plastic surgery no matter whether they want to appear good. Approximately 45% of the participants showed acceptance of plastic surgery, while 28% criticized cosmetic surgery because the procedures tends to psychological change one’s personal acceptance of one’s self. Kramarae (2000) stated that the majority women would not publicly disclosed whether they have undergone any reconstructive surgery, mainly because they feel uncomfortable divulging such information and would prefer discussing such issues only with their relatives and close friends. Other important external factors such as media descriptions, ventures in appearances and substantial comparisons to other women have also been determined to influence women’s responses towards the topic of plastic surgery.

Women actively invest in their looks and there are certain women who internalize images of beauty that have been disseminated by media, making them more susceptible to request for cosmetic surgery.

Survey studies show the 14% of women consider themselves to suffer from dimorphic body disarray, which is a psychological obsession associated to excessive looking through the mirror. Such obsession generally results in the observation of the smallest imperfections in their looks, causing significant disruption in their daily functioning. Those women consume a large amount of their time worrying over their external physical appearance, resulting in serious levels of anxiety. These individuals often find difficulty maintaining social relationships. Surveys show that a very small percentage of the participants suffered from dysmorphic body disarray, yet she still underwent cosmetic surgery. Three procedures were performed, including liposuction, tummy tuck and breast diminution. Among the women with no body dysmorphic disorder, 29% were worried that they were not slender enough or that they were too stout. However, their body mass indices (BMIs) showed that 77% of these women were not obese and 5% were clinically considered malnourished.


Review of current literature show that the major method used in plastic surgery is grafting, which is basically the transplantation or implantation of live tissues from one part of the body to another or from one individual to another. Grafting provides that opportunity for the transplanted tissue to stick to the new location in order to replace any disfigured or deformed tissues. More than a few techniques of skin grafting are usually used. One involves shifting of tissues from an adjacent area to the defective area by transposition or rotary motion of flaps of skin.

Another frequently used method, particularly in quite minor facial defects, is full-thickness grafting, which involves the detachment of the full depth of the skin and transfer as a free transplant to the faulty area (Sullivan, 2001). A third method, called split-thickness grafting, is used especially for severe burn victims who suffer from large burnt portions of the body. Through the use of an electrical machine or dermatome, a portion of skin at the donor site can be isolated at an accurate thickness that will hold enough living dermal cells to unite at the burnt spot, while separating enough cells at the donor site for the skin to grow back. The burn victim’s life can then be saved by temporarily covering the surviving dermal cells at the burn site, with skin grafts from donors who are genetically compatible. These grafts can live on permanently. Despite our fascination and curiosity over beauty, plastic surgery has existing consequences. Research has revealed that attractive people are more likely to be successful in effectively noticing such transformation, despite the standard uses of plastic surgery. Individuals with higher paying jobs generally received higher salaries hence they have more resources to spend for enhancement procedures such as plastic surgery.

One report in which this occurrence was established persuasively aired on ABC News’ 20/20 (4th day of November 1994, Transcript number 1444). In one segment of this report, two people, one more beautiful and one less beautiful, were positioned in a series of equal situations, such as employment interviews. Cosmetics were employed to overemphasize the differences of the two individuals, and certain Western values on beauty were unspecified. Each person was given identical resumes and clothes and was trained to say very reserved remarks during the interview. Results show that the better-looking individual was often considered to be more intelligent, competent more prospective than the less attractive person.

Breast augmentation is one of the accepted procedures that women request during plastic surgery. The degree of augmentation is based on the size, shape and types of implants that would best suit the physical structure of the patient. Inside the operating room there are test plants that are used to confirm the best size and type to contest the patient’s structure and achieve their visual goals. Once the best test implant is determined, it is replaced with the same permanent implant.

Liposuction is a routine surgical procedure that has been acclaimed in the last decade. This procedure is also known as lipoplasty or suction lipectomy. Tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, involves modification of the abdominal region of an individual. The surgical procedure involves elimination of excess skin and fat from the center and lower abdomen in order to tense up the muscles of the abdominal wall, thus reducing the protrusion of the lower abdomen.


Research of current literature on plastic surgery shows that the rate of women undergoing plastic surgery has significantly increased in the last 10 years. Unfortunately, women tend to ignore the possible risks that may occur from such procedures because women are generally more concerned about getting their physical features enhanced than worrying over risks that still remain unfounded. There are so many factors that women should always consider before pursuing plastic surgery.

It has been suggested that only highly competent plastic surgeons provide plastic surgery procedures, because any mistake from these procedures may result in severe personal frustration in the patient. There have been anecdotal reports that describe unnecessary and avoidable deaths among isolated plastic surgery cases. Society is aware that women are more attractive after receiving cosmetic surgery and the benefits of this procedure has continuously fascinated people. It has also been determined that plastic surgery is strongly associated with self-esteem and beauty, not only for the patient himself, but for the beholder.

Our current generation considers plastic surgery as a cure for any imperfections that may exist in an individual. There are certain individuals who are interested in acquiring facial features that are uniquely present in certain ethnic groups. At the same time, the growing multicultural society has also shown that there is a gradual transformation of features as one follows the generations originating from a multi-ethnic marriage. However, it is also important for women to know that plastic surgery only changes how one looks like and the inner self will still remain the same after surgery. It is important that the patient be educated about the issues related to plastic surgery because he or she undergoes the actual procedure itself. Heredity involves the segregation and transmission of genes from the parents to the offspring. When an individual undergoes plastic surgery, only the external part of his body is changed, not his original cells, therefore the next generation will express the original features of the parents.

It is important to consider plastic surgery as a quick solution for transformation external appearances, yet it is more important to understand that genetics plays an important role in the phenotypic appearance of each individual. There will always be some features that are either beneficial or disadvantages to a particular person. Plastic surgery is currently a benefit that only the affluent can afford. However, there is a great chance that plastic surgery will be a common procedure in the future. Should this happen, society has to be educated with regards to the psychological, sociological and biological aspects of this procedure.


It is human nature to be fascinated with beauty hence the field of plastic surgery has resulted in a modification of society’s outlook towards external physical features. In addition, the effective influence of mass media towards beauty and cosmetics has influenced women to consider cosmetic surgery to repair any defective features that women find to be unattractive or defective. Unfortunately, women consider beauty enhancers such as cosmetics as temporary and plastic surgery is thus perceived as a solution to effective incorporation of more attractive physical features into the human body. Plastic surgery provides a surgical solution to removing unwanted physical features, as well as a method of incorporated any features that are deemed attractive to the patient. Plastic surgery is often considered as an unnecessary surgical procedure if the patient does not actually carry a physical defect but would only want to make her self more attractive to society. Cosmetic surgery may provide immediate solutions to certain conditions, yet it is also important that different aspects related to reconstructive surgery be explained to a patient, in order for the patient to fully understand the physical, mental and emotional changes that may occur after the surgical procedure itself.


  • Engler AM (2000): Body sculpture: Plastic surgery of the body for men and women. New York: Hudson Publishing.
  • Kramarae C (2000): Encyclopedia of women’s issues and Knowledge. San Francisco: Routledge International.
  • Loftus JM (2000): The smart woman’s guide to plastic surgery: Essential information from a female plastic surgeon. Toronto: McGraw Hill Professional.
  • Seaman B (2001): For women only: Your guide to health empowerment. Los Angeles: Seven Stories Press.
  • Sullivan D (2001): Cosmetic surgery: The cutting age of cosmetic medicine in America. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
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