Dying for the Promise of Perfection

Sun, surf, and surgery gone awry. Lisa Espinosa's real-life cautionary tale of overseas cosmetics surgery


Long considered an indulgence confined to the wealthy and famous, cosmetic surgery has become an accessible and mainstream fascination. Its increased popularity has been spurred by a number of factors: greater affordability, innovative procedures, and most notably, the popularity of reality television shows such as Extreme Makeover, Dr. 90210, and I Want a Famous Face. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, or ASPS, $10.3 billion was spent on 12.1 million cosmetic procedures in 2008.

While the majority of  patients are still white, cosmetic procedures among Caucasians dropped 2% in 2008. On the other hand, procedures among ethnic patients increased by 11% in 2008, with more than 3 million performed. ASPS reports that Hispanics experienced the largest increase, up 18%. African Americans made up 8% of total procedures, up 10% from 2007.

Historically, African Americans have rejected cosmetic reconstruction, seeing it as a way of conforming to white ideals of beauty; however, attitudes have shifted dramatically over the past decade. Cosmetic surgery is now viewed as more of a way to enhance beauty rather than an attempt to look Caucasian. ASPS’s 2008 statistics indicate that 907,141 cosmetic procedures were performed on black patients, with rhinoplasty (nose reshaping), liposuction, and breast reduction being the top three procedures requested.

Dr. Ferdinand Ofodile, clinical professor of surgery at Columbia University, board certified plastic surgeon, and expert in ethnic rhinoplasty, specifically black and Hispanic, explains. “Nowadays, plastic surgery is perceived as a way to streamline and enhance what you already have. The stigma surrounding nose reshaping has decreased, it’s now perceived as a means of creating greater harmony and balance in facial features, thereby increasing beauty while preserving ethnicity.”

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  • Cuyahoga

    This is a MUST READ for anyone considering a cosmetic procedure. Realize first that you are trusting your body – the ONLY one you have (and it does not regenerate) – to a stranger. If anything goes wrong, anything at all, you must trust this person to do right by you without your immediate oversight or input. This is major surgery and the patient is usually anesthetized, unable to consult, advise or even react. Any invasive procedure requires you should want to be fully apprised of the procedure from beginning to end, that you have developed a rapport with the clinician and you have reviewed references for his work. The option is being scarred for life mentally, emotionally if not physically. How great a deal is that?

  • Very useful information . Thanks for sharing. Many people have similar situations in their lives.

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