The Olympics and Plastic Surgery

With the winter Olympic games ongoing in Vancouver, it gives one pause to ponder about more than the traditional meaning of this event. Every two years, the Olympics and the media exposure that surrounds it provides athletes, known and unknown, with the rare opportunity to showcase their skills and personality on an international stage. As an audience we are glued at night (and sometimes during the day thanks to Tivo) to watch athletes perform in ways that we only fantasized about in our youth. For some of these athletes, their accomplishments will be a springbroad to fame and riches thereafter.

The ancient Olympics were held in Olympic Greece over a span of nearly 1300 years beginning in the 8th century BC. Revived 1400 years later in 1894, Baron Pierre de Coubertin resumed the games in Athens. To adapt the games to the ‘new’ world, a variety of modern inventions since their rebirth have included the Winter Games for ice and snow sports, the Paralympic Games for physically disabled athletes, and the Youth Olympic Games for teenage athletes. To support all these activities, the games have long shifted away from pure amateurism to complete corporate commercialization. Over half of the Olympic coverage seen in Vancouver on NBC were commercials.

The vast majority of Olympic competitors are under the age of 35. As a result, most athletes  have much, if not all, of their youthful appearance. Some have had some form of plastic surgery, however, to look better under all this media exposure. Few have owned up to it however. In this young age group, Botox, injectable fillers, rhinoplasty and ear surgery would be the likely plastic surgery procedures. For obvious reasons, liposuction and other body contouring procedures would be unlikely given their state of physical conditioning.

Olympic gold medalist and four-time Word tennis champion  Lindsay Davenport has freely spoken about her experience with Juvederm injectable filler. The years of sun damage from playing tennis led her to seek non-surgical facial rejuvenation. Concerned about her ‘parentheses’ (laugh lines), she had those injected to restore volume and had Botox in her forehead and around her eyes to decrease wrinkles as well. Her experience was so positive that she has been a spokesperson for Juvederm’s educational campaign.

Olympic hurdler Jana Rawlinson from Australia has opted to have her breast implants removed in preparation for the 2012 Olympics in London. Such a cosmetic move may be the first in the world of competitive athletics. She felt they were slowing her hurdling down. Having breast implants, adding just 1% to one’s total weight and causing some minor adjustment in balance, may make the fraction of a second difference between winning and losing. Interestingly, she cited  a patriotic duty to do the best that she could  for her country over her own vanity for the removal decision.

While most recognize the Olympic symbol of the five interlocking  rings, fewer know that there is an accompanying motto as well. The Olympic motto is “Citius, Altius, and Fortius” which in Latin means “Faster, Higher and Stronger”.  Given the evolution of the Olympics today, perhaps the motto should include Richer and Better Looking as well.
Dr. Barry Eppley