Cosmetic surgery is usually performed to correct a physical abnormality or to enhance an otherwise normal physical feature and, therefore, improve a person's appearance. It's an extremely broad field that may offer reconstructive surgery for a patient after a damaging burn or other physical trauma, yet can also be used to smooth out wrinkles, enlarge breasts, or reshape a nose. In the not so distant past, it was confined only to surgery that was absolutely necessary to the health and well-being of the patient, such as skin-grafting for serious burns, reconstructing a dislodged eye, repairing a broken nose or jaw, or treating an unseemly birthmark across the face. Cosmetic surgery was first used regularly after World War I, when treatment and reconstruction of war injuries gave hope to young soldiers.
As recently as 50 years ago, as the rich and famous began opting for elective surgery, the subject was whispered about and considered taboo. Celebrities and others in elite circles would disappear for months and then emerge after secret cosmetic surgery looking younger, prettier, and thinner. Over time, it has become accepted and even encouraged in some circles. Today, there is open acceptance of such procedures to the point that there are even television reality shows about them. There are a wide range of variations, from tiny tucks and snips to full-blown face lifts.
Some of the more popular forms are liposuction, in which excessive fat is sucked out of the body with a tube and vacuum device; laser facial resurfacing, which smooths lines on the face around the eyes and mouth and eliminates facial blemishes; a facelift, which pulls back the skin around the face, jowls and neck; breast enlargement, which enhances the size of the breasts using implants; and hair replacement surgery, which fills in balding areas using a patient's own hair. There are many more forms, including variations of these.
Anyone interested in cosmetic surgery should consider the risks and remember that it is, ultimately, surgery. Not all procedures come out exactly the way surgeon and patients foresee, and recovery is just like any other surgery, complete with pain and the possibility of infection. Patients should choose their doctors wisely, obtain several references, and keep realistic expectations.