The Changing Face of Cosmetic Surgery

By: Dr Bryce Cowan BSc MSc MD PhD FRCSC

The North American public’s increased demand for cosmetic surgery has been well documented.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (which represents many Canadian and American physicians), in 1992 there were 389,024 cosmetic surgical procedures performed - in 2003, this figure jumped to almost 2.9 million.

Forty-seven percent of women and 34 percent of men, who were undecided on the topic of cosmetic surgery a decade ago, are now in favor of it.

It is interesting to also see the change in demand for cosmetic surgery in the last decade.

In 1992, the top six cosmetic procedures (surgical) were:
  • eyelid surgery;
  • nosejob (rhinoplasty);
  • liposuction;
  • collagen injection;
  • facelift; and
  • breast augmentation.
Compare that to 2003, when the top six cosmetic procedures performed became:
  • Botox® injection; (Click on http://www.botoxfacts.ca for more uses of Botox®)
  • microdermabrasion;
  • breast augmentation;
  • liposuction;
  • laser hair removal
  • eyelid surgery

The popularity of cosmetic surgery keeps increasing, with reality shows that showcase dramatic physical transformations and overjoyed recipients adding to its mainstream appeal. What’s more, people are more willing to use their disposable income for these procedures and they now know all about them …or do they?

If you find yourself considering cosmetic surgery, this is what you must know:
  1. Who am I am speaking to and are they truly qualified? In many cases this will require that the physician be a Board certified Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon.
  2. What is their experience with the procedure in question (can they do the job they say they can)
  3. Do they have representative photographs of their work to show me
  4. Where do they intend to perform the procedure (clinic or hospital) and under what type of anesthesia
  5. What are the potential risks and complications of the proposed procedure(s)
  6. How do these risks change in light of my medical or smoking history
  7. Am I a good candidate for the procedure (if not how can I make myself a better candidate)
  8. What happens if I require further care for a complication (who pays)
  9. How soon can I return to work
  10. In sum: Do I feel comfortable placing my looks and perhaps my life in the hands of this individual

If you are considering any type of cosmetic surgery, it’s important to educate yourself and feel confident with your choices. This is an action you will live with forever so be very cautious. In subsequent articles we will feature the current state of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures.


About the author:
Dr Bryce Cowan BSc MSc MD PhD FRCSC, Reconstructive & Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon, The Skin Care Centre, Vancouver, BC


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