Cosmetic surgery: filled with danger?
Aran Grover discusses the new UK law on cosmetic surgery and whether it goes far enough to protect against dangerous procedures.
A new UK law has just banned cosmetic lip-fillers and Botox for under 18s to protect young people from non-surgical treatments often performed by underqualified practitioners. This has raised the question of whether we should extend this ban, or at least introduce restrictions for adults, because of the serious health risks associated with certain procedures.
BBC News has highlighted a few examples of lip filler treatments going awry and resulting in black, swollen lips and pockets of blood forming – nasty stuff indeed. One patient stated that during her treatment she could “see the practitioners face and knew something was wrong”.
Though the dangers are rife and damaging, in principle, it is in my inclination to argue for cosmetic surgery. In the name of liberty, bodily freedom, and autonomy, it should be permissible to alter one’s body to the desired aesthetic properties. Do we not dress ourselves, apply makeup to our faces and, of course, create a contrived image of ourselves online? Of course, we do; the aesthetics of our outward selves are so inherently fabricated that even the least ‘fashionable’ person chooses what to wear in the morning and how to cut their hair. If science presented us with a new opportunity to develop and tailor our personal aesthetic to whatever we want, the vainest of us would be inclined to do exactly that.
Dangerous treatments are symptomatic of a desperate need for companies to profit off of consumers trying to ‘fit in’
Lip fillers treatments in particular, however, are a relatively new development. I looked at the websites of three of the biggest clinics here in Exeter for lip filler treatment. Of these, one had two qualified dentists, one had a single qualified doctor and two nurses, and the other had no information on the team of workers. Perhaps, then, we should question whether these clinics are truly qualified to carry out these non-surgical (but still potentially dangerous) procedures – only one of these clinics has a specialist in medical aesthetics. The success of all these clinics is nevertheless evidential of an endemic strive for unreachable beauty standards.
With magazines, social media posts, and headlines so freely accessible to us, we are force-fed a diet of looks that many of us could never dream of pulling off, workouts a reasonable person has no time for and diet plans allowing you to eat less than half of what you crave. All of this convinces us that we are obliged to attain such unattainableness. If we want to stop people from having dangerous cosmetic procedures with unwanted side effects, perhaps we should look to critique the standards that drive people to want cosmetic surgery. Consumerist culture demands that we strive to achieve these unachievable standards in order for producers to make profit. Dangerous treatments are symptomatic of a desperate need for companies to profit off of consumers trying to ‘fit in’.
Before you go to a lip filler clinic, think about these standards that pervade all of our lives and whether getting that ‘Kylie Jenner’ or ‘Cat Eye’ look is worth the risk of something going wrong. If you’re still set on it, however, make sure you do your research!