Cosmetic Surgery: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

While cosmetic surgery certainly has aesthetic and functional advantages, it’s not without its disadvantages.

In 2011, the official worldwide number of people who had undergone some form of cosmetic surgery was 15 million. 20 licensed plastic surgeons were surveyed and the results placed the US at the top of the list of countries with the most procedures done. However, South Korea topped the world ranking in terms of procedures per population of 1000. South Korea is followed by Greece, Italy and the US. The most popular procedures include non-invasive skin procedures and invasive procedures focusing on breasts, face, fat elimination as well as the rest of the body.

Cosmetic Surgery: The Good


Cosmetic surgery – when done correctly – can be helpful and beneficial. A study performed by scientists Margraf, Meyer and Lavallee stated that aesthetic surgery may produce long term positive psychological effects. The study compared 544 individuals who had undergone plastic surgery with a group of 264 people who desired to have some kind of cosmetic surgery done, but hadn’t yet undergone any procedures.

The researchers followed their subjects for one year after their surgeries and found that those who had gone under the knife had a more positive outlook than those who had never done it before. The study reported positive effects on quality of life, satisfaction, self-esteem, attractiveness and well being.

Surgery and congenital problems

One of the biggest benefits of cosmetic surgery is its ability to address congenital problems or victims of accidents.

Cosmetic surgery is available for those who are born with physical body impairments and who wish to be able to correct them for the better. Examples of congenital impairments include protruding or closed ears, cleft palate and strabismus among others. For those who have been physically affected by accidents like burns, broken noses and scars, cosmetic surgery can be a liberating process. cosmetic surgery is often done in conjunction with therapies and social support in the case of physical impairments from traumatic experiences.

Surgery and self-esteem

Cosmetic surgery often boasts the benefit of boosting self confidence. It helps increase self esteem and some people even use it to get ahead in their careers.

In the psychology of the career world, those who appear healthy, young and fresh with an added hint of self confidence may be more likely to be hired or promoted compared to those who do not give importance to their looks. This can be due to the fact that we psychologically associate youth and confidence with a better work ethic, however, the medical world does not encourage the haphazard or whimsy use of cosmetic surgery in order to reach career goals.

Cosmetic Surgery: The Bad


There is certainly a “dark side of the moon” when it comes to cosmetic surgey. The practice is constantly facing backlash from critics who see procedures being abused by patients, causing a distorted view of reality and beauty.

Celebs and cosmetic surgery abuse

Ironically, celebrity endorsement of cosmetic sugery procedures have given them a bad name; many celebrities go over the top when it comes to cosmetic surgery, setting a bad example for their fans and the wider public. This is where the distorted view of cosmetic surgery intensifies.

While there are some celebrities who have rocked the idea of enhancing and maintaining their beauty without going overboard, there are those who seem to not know when to stop. These celebrities may have botched nose jobs, overdone Botox injections, too much lip fillers or drastic facelifts, not forgetting breast implants gone wrong.

Famous celebs with plastic surgery gone wrong:

  1. Kenny Rogers
  2. Joan Rivers
  3. Donatella Versace
  4. Michael Jackson
  5. Jocelyn Wildenstein
  6. Heidi Montag
  7. Jennifer Gray
  8. Mickey Rourke
  9. Carrot Top
  10. Priscilla Presley

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder can be categorised as a type of cosmetic surgery addiction. BDD causes the individual to see themselves below their own expectations. They often persuade themselves to undergo more cosmetic surgery.

BDD affects both men and women and creates anxiety, especially if one is in front of the mirror. At its worst, this disorder makes people withdraw from society or abuse cosmetic surgery use. However, BDD only satisfies 2 percent of sufferers, with the remaining 98% suffering from dissatisfaction after the surgery. This is what leads to more cosmetic enhancements one after another.

Too much surgery can be fatal among those who obsessively seek it. Many clinics and cosmetic surgeons have reported cases of BDD sufferers suing their medical provider after the initial satisfaction has worn off.

In a recent UCLA study, it was found that BDD and Anorexia share similar brain abnormalities.

Cosmetic Surgery: The Ugly

feat-109860_1280The ugly side of cosmetic surgery is full of malpractice, unregulated practice and black market surgery. These things give cosmetic surgery a bad name although governments all over the world try as much as possible to regulate the practice.

Cosmetic surgery is not without risk. The most common complications for all procedures include infection, bruising and bleeding. However, in about 1 out of 13,000 cases, surgery can lead to a coma and even death.

Cosmetic surgery and malpractice

Cosmetic surgery malpractice occurs due to either an unlicensed doctor or haphazard administration of the surgery. In liposuction, fatalities occur 1 in every 5000 cases, while 1 in 500 cases of tummy tucks are botched jobs.

In an article titled 5 tips for picking a good plastic surgeon, CNN discussed ways to prevent cosmetic surgery mishandling and malpractice. Their recommendations include:

  1. Check for the doctor’s board certification
  2. Check for the surgeon’s track record
  3. Ask for the surgeon’s hospital privileges
  4. Ask the doctor questions about the surgery
  5. Be wary if he/she suggests multiple procedures

Unregulated surgery and the Black Market

Black market and unregulated cosmetic surgeries are causing concerns all over the world. These blackmarket procedures include the use of illegal silicone for breast, butt and lip fillers.

Most of these surgeries are administered in places like parlors, motels and houses without access to quick emergency assistance in case something goes wrong. Even worse that this, surgeries are administered by people who are not in any way qualified to be doing cosmetic surgery.

Some of the worst reported cases include:

  1. Rajee Narineesing – who asked for fillers but was injected with cement in her face instead.
  2. Justin Street – had a penile enlargement for a cheap price but died of silicone embolism.
  3. Shaquanda Brown– opted for an unregulated butt-enhancement procedure but had an infection after her unqualified doctor closed injection sites with superglue.

All black market procedures are very cheap, drawing people to them despite the huge chance of infection and fatalities. One of the most used products in cosmetic surgery is silicone. Among the black market practice, unqualified doctors use a cheaper, more easily available kind of silicone which isn’t suitable for injecting. Botox, a deadly toxin if mishandled, is also one procedure popular in the black market.

Several malpractice and black market surgeons have been brought to court, although the number of these practices is still on the rise.


The cosmetic surgery industry has a good side, a bad side and a very ugly side. It is recommended that those seeking cosmetic surgery procedures exercise caution and common sense before taking any action.


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