Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

An eight-year-old girl in California, US, went in for botox this month. The reason: She was worried about the wrinkles on her face. The young girl’s mother came on a national telvision show to explain why her daughter who participates in young girls’ beauty pageants — went for the procedure. “I knew she was complaining about her face, having wrinkles and things like that. When I brought it up to Britney [her daughter] she was all for it.” Has the ease with which a person can get plastic surgery pushed people towards making unintelligent decisions? Where can society draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable cosmetic surgery? This month’s live debate touches upon the subject, by asking how cosmetic surgery impacts our social ethos. Join the debate by writing in to readers@gulfnews.com

 

 


 

Plastic surgery should be limited to only reconstructive procedures.

Syed Luqman Faraz
When it comes to cosmetic surgery, I tend to see a lot of it affecting society in a negative way. Sure, it can often change things from bad to good, but sometimes they try to fix something and it goes wrong and that actually ruins the image of the profession. I do understand the need for plastic surgery, because a friend of mine suffered third-degree burns and she had to undergo plastic surgery and it actually helped. But, cosmetic surgery gives an image issue to people, because they think something is wrong with their features and surgery is the solution.

Dr Imran Tahir
Plastic surgery is a very broad speciality and cosmetic surgery is a part of the speciality where we can correct the deformities which are either congenital or as a result of ageing, or psychological or physical changes. As a man, your ageing process is totally different from a woman. So, after 30 or 40 years of living and having given birth and brought up children, a woman is under a lot of stress and at the same time there are a lot of physical changes taking place. So, she will probably need surgery/correction at some stage if she wants to do it. And now because of society and culture anybody who has a slight deformity of the face or the nose will be constantly asked about it, if their nose is slightly crooked or if they have a scar. So, it may also become a psychological problem, which needs to be sorted out. Such a person can go to a plastic surgeon to correct it, and the surgeon would give her an idea of what the correction would look like and if she feels this isn’t much of a hassle and it is worth going in for surgery, she will be fine with it.

It can become an obsession as people are never satisfied with their looks.

Dr Imran Tahir
No, it is just that people have become more aware about this speciality and they have realised that such things can be corrected. It is the responsibility of the doctor to see if they can actually help the patient – if the patient is healthy and can undergo surgery. For some health reason, if they may not be able to make the change, then the surgeon should set the boundary and make it clear that the procedure cannot be done. The patient’s safety is of prime importance when any procedure is considered. It is also the responsibility of the media to make people aware that some plastic surgeons do not follow precautions which can lead to procedures going wrong. Also, from the patient’s point of view, you can always ask the surgeon that you want to talk to some of their patients. Go for three or four consultations and then make up your mind on who is giving you the most appropriate results.

Syed Luqman Faraz
I come from a Muslim background and we’ve been taught that the way you have been made is for a reason, you have been crafted in a beautiful manner by God. So, if you are trying to ‘enhance’ that, who exactly are you trying to please? Also, in the Western media, they do promote a particular kind of image, but they also bring out cases where plastic surgery has gone bad. I recently read about the case of Jocelyn Wildenstein, who has become famous as ‘Cat Woman’ after undergoing countless procedures. And I’m sorry to say, if you look at her old photograph you will see how disastrous it has been. There is a fine line between altering the creations that we are and doing it because there is a genuine problem. Frankly speaking, not having the most perfect nose, or features, is not a very big problem.

Dr Imran Tahir
If a patient comes to you, who really doesn’t need surgery and is still insisting on it, you can advice them in a nice way, even recommend them to see a psychiatrist. But you can’t stop them from going to another surgeon, even if it is in another country. But, you don’t really see such patients here. I think people around you make a bigger psychological problem for those with minor physical deformities. There are many children who may be born with pointed ears. Even at the age of six, when they start going to school they get teased by their friends, who keep talking about their ‘bat ears’. A man, who has a bit of breasts, can’t stand in the locker room with his friends or colleagues. These can be corrected as it is not really a big thing.

Syed Luqman Faraz
But my view is – who actually decides what looks good and what doesn’t? And I am sorry to say, the younger generation is blowing it out of proportion. Kids will tease you — they’ve teased me, they’ll tease you, it happens through school. But you need to bring up that kid with the understanding that the reason you are like this is because that’s how you’ve been created. The idea that it is ‘correctable’ is what I have an issue with. Why are you doing it – to fit in to society? Tomorrow, if the society says that your hair or waistline are not correct, what will you do? But, I understand that there are people who have a very low morale, and if plastic surgery helps them, I am really not one to stop them.

Dr Michael Salivaras
Plastic surgery is a speciality — you have to go through a process, you have to make the patient understand what the problem is and what can be done. The real problem happens when a patient is psychologically unstable. One of the ways to work is for the patients to see a psychologist before they go to a plastic surgeon. But that really won’t happen, will it? So, what is important is for the plastic surgeon himself to be well-educated and not just have a financial perspective. The problem is that not every surgeon is like that. To say no to a patient is a privilege which every one may not have.

Cosmetic surgery panders to a world that is image-obsessed.

Syed Luqman Faraz
I have cousins who are in their early teens and they worry about not ‘looking beautiful’. I tell them that they look fantastic, but then they open these magazines with the photographs of models and they compare. They are part of cliques in schools, trying to be accepted by their friends and peers, these things hit them. That is when it comes to the upbringing and how you teach them to deal with it.

Dr Imran Tahir
In fact the media is almost promoting plastic surgery, through programmes like ‘Extreme makeover’, where they show an ‘ordinary-looking’ woman being transformed into this woman who looks like a model within a few hours’ surgery. They don’t show how the whole process works, the make-up that is done on the women after the surgery before presenting them on TV, so the media should also be checked. They shouldn’t be showing such programmes. They should show both sides of the picture — things that go wrong, things that are right.

Syed Luqman Faraz
On the internet, the advertisements that come up show: This is your face and this is what you can look like through such and such software. You can do that to your photograph, but what do you do in real life? So, a very crude way to put it is — it is an issue of demand and supply. The media has created the demand, and plastic surgery is providing the supply.

Dr Michael Salivaras
The problem is three-fold. First of all the doctor has to respect the patient and has to understand that he is practising medicine. Secondly, the media and journalists need to be sensitive and do their research because the main purpose of the media is to give information. The third is to have regulatory bodies like a society of plastic surgeons, which has to be strict and has to control each doctor. They have to punish the surgeons who do not abide by ethics. Also, advertisements need to be controlled, because the more money I have the bigger billboard I can put up.

Dr Imran Tahir
I think professional doctors will never do something unprofessional, it is an unprofessional or inexperienced doctor who might try to promote himself and get the help of the media by putting up ads which claim things like they can remove all the fat by using a particular liposuction machine or in hours they can change your body completely. That is wrong.

Conclusion

  • It is an individual’s right to go for cosmetic surgery.
  • Some people will never be satisfied with the way they look and may need psychological help.
  • The media needs to make people aware of both the good and the bad of cosmetic surgery.
  • Stricter regulations and accreditation laws will ensure procedures do not go awry.

Quotes

Areej Jomaa, Dubai
If you do your nose, that’s one thing, but sometimes women go overboard, go for too many procedures and they can’t even smile properly anymore. That’s not acceptable. I consider the lines on the face as years of wisdom, you don’t remove them. You age gracefully.”

Aisha Yaqoob Al Khadar, Dubai
A patient should go for psychological tests to determine if this case needs a surgery. If it is an obsession, they should be deterred. People have the right to do it, because frankly it is their life. I know some of my friends who have done nose jobs, and I think it’s okay. It actually changed for better. ”

Asma Abdul Rahman Bahassan, Dubai
I would never go under the knife. The other day someone came up to me and asked me to use ‘fillers’, because apparently I have two lines that show on my face when I smile! I would blame the media programmes that project this image of how your body must look like. ”