Unnecessary cosmetic surgery

Other Names:
Plastic surgery without medical justification
Unnecessary breast enlargement

Major reshaping of face and other cosmetic surgery which requires bone removal or skin grafting is usually done under full anaesthetic and requires considerable time for healing. Many minor procedures are now often carried out under local anaesthetic and may includes (a) forehead smoothing (one technique uses botulin toxin, otherwise used for chemical warfare, which freezes the muscles for several month so that the frown lines drop out); (b) hand surgery, which plumps out claw hands with fat transferred from buttocks, thighs, calves or abdomen; (c) ear pinning, to reduce protruding ears (particularly used for children); (d) permanent colouration, in which a range of pigments can be introduced into the top layer of skin; (e) implants and augmentation (with silicone, collagen, or own- fat transfer) to plump up breasts and pectoral muscles (men), thighs, lips, chin, eye furrows, acne pits and wrinkled areas; (f) fat and cellulite removal by liposuction and/or melting techniques; (g) vein removal or sclerotherapy -- glycerine injections to flush out and seal thread veins and varicose veins; (h) hair transplants, in which punch grafts of living hair follicles are removed from the back and sides of the head and moved to the dome; (i) penis extensions and implants; (j) skin tucking for face-lifts and eyelids; (k) skin peeling or dermabrasion to removed surface skin imperfections and sun damaged skin; (l) nose remodelling; and (m) breast reduction. Most treatments cost a minimum of around $2,000; breast operation, the most common are around a minimum $5,000.


In 2018, Australia overtook America as the country with the most cosmetic surgery operations per capita;  500,000 cosmetic procedures were performed in 2017, more than $1 billion.  According to the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery (ACCS),  Australians underwent 20,000 "boob jobs" (breast enhancements), 30,000 liposuction procedures and $350 million worth of botox procedures in 2017.  Dermal fillers and laser treatments made up the rest of the top five most popular procedures.

The cosmetic surgery industry in the USA grosses $300 million every year and is growing annually at a rate of 10%, making it the fastest-growing "medical" speciality. The average income of an American cosmetic surgeon is $1 million a year. More than 2 million Americans, at least 87% of them female, had undergone cosmetic surgery by 1988, a figure which had tripled in two years. Breast operations are around twice as common as face-lifts. By 1991, more than 2 million American women had had silicone-gel brest implants (since 1964 when the devices were introduced) -- half of them since 1983 and at a current rate of over 10,000 per month. The devices are also sold in at least 30 other countries (but have since been taken off the market in the USA for reasons of toxicity). 90% of the 60,000 people in the UK who have cosmetic surgery each year are women and more than 90% of operations are to counteract the effects of ageing (wrinkle and vein removal and face-lifts, for example).

The procedure of lengthening legs has become popular in modern China, notably Beijing. Up to 8 cm can be gained by cutting the leg bones of girls and applying an external brace. Many employers specify minimum height in job assessments. This, and fashion magazine models, are cited as reasons why Chinese girls will pay $16,000 to be taller.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST