Corporate Promotion of Cosmetic Surgery and Enhancements

Celebrities who undergo plastic surgery without question have a compelling influence on the general population, particularly those under the age of 40. One has to look no further than the checkout aisle in the grocery store to see how celebrity visibility is thrust upon us. From these consumer magazines to numerous television shows, anyone with a Hollywood connection is tracked and speculated upon about their cosmetic surgery, even if they have never had it. The media’s desire to push these cosmetic surgery tales of the stars fuels the public’s obsession with discovering the secrets to what keeps the beautiful and famous looking so.

While the star’s experiences may fascinate, they do little to actually educate. It is easy to confuse entertainment with reality because it is simply more interesting. Take the recent case of 23 year-old Heidi Mondag who had numerous cosmetic procedures done to satisfy her narcissistic and career agendas. While she may have had a lot of procedures, they were all quite small in scope. Most of her procedures were really ‘nip and tucks’ and not major overalls. After all, how many physical problems could a young person really have particularly given her appearance beforehand?  But this is not how the media interpreted her surgery. Rather it was made to sound like it was a great undertaking and required supernormal surgical skills to complete.

These ‘tweakments’ are largely what is fueling the increasing visibility of plastic surgery. Botox, injectable fillers, lasers and minor skin lifts of the face have created a whole new set of treatment options that did not exist just a decade ago. While a 23 year-old partaking of this cosmetic menu does border on the overly self-indulgent, those in their late 30s and 40s have a more significant purpose. Fending back the early signs of aging is proving to be a more effective strategy than awaiting the day when major plastic surgery is needed. While my mother may have waited until retirement to wage the battle against the effects of time, today’s middle agers understandably what to look better and more rested now.

What is unique about these minimal procedures is that most of them are fueled and promoted by the cosmetic device and pharmaceutical industry. Plastic surgeons have taken a back seat to the promotions and marketing that billion-dollar-in-sales companies can do. The once retail approach to cosmetic and beauty products has expanded to include drugs and surgery. Targeting consumers through popular magazine and internet strategies, rebate coupons for Botox and eyelash stimulants are widely available as well as even franchise surgery for facelifts. Breast implant sizer kits are mailed to prospective patient’s homes with incentives for other procedures packed inside. Plastic surgeons collectively spend an insignificant fraction on marketing compared to that of the corporate world. This wave of industry’s promotion for profit and media attention for sales is why most people today know something about cosmetic enhancement and why it is now mainstream.

But like all entrepreneurial endeavors, making a profit and driving sales does produce some good byproducts that have wide benefit. Like the old commercial slogan from decades ago, there is ‘better living through modern chemistry’.

Dr. Barry Eppley