by Liz Walter
For around 40,000 women in the UK, the festive season will have been tinged with anxiety as scare stories about breast implants hit the news. While in France, where the so-called PIP (Poly Implant Prothese) implants were made, women have been advised by the government to have them removed, the UK government has still to finalize its advice, and arguments are raging about who should foot the potential bill.
One of the surprising aspects of this story is the sheer numbers of women involved. Whatever one’s views on cosmetic surgery, it is clearly far from being the preserve of the narcissistic, privileged few. In societies where at least a proportion of people aspire to the age-zero or year-zero look, with skin so flawless that it is impossible to guess the person’s age, new practices spring up regularly – some more enduringly popular than others.
Despite its reputation for producing a ‘frozen’ look, Botox has been widely-used since the 1990s, especially by women, but with significant numbers of men now willing to invest in their personal grooming, the same procedure applied to men has become known as the boytox. For those who still balk at injecting a powerful toxin under their skin, there is always the no-tox, which is basically any non-invasive procedure, such as massage or the application of electrical impulses to firm and tone the skin.
One clever-sounding new procedure is the ribbon lift, in which tiny, barbed devices are inserted into the body part to be lifted – usually the cheeks or neck – and then pulled upwards. These devices then dissolve over a period of months, during which time the skin fixes into its new, more lifted position.
Much less benign-sounding is the so-called Dracula therapy, in which blood is taken from the patient, the platelets extracted and then injected back into the face. Amazingly, even cosmetic surgery clinics seem happy to use this term on their own websites (the more formal term is Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy), though the alternative names vampire face lift or vamp lift have tended to be restricted to lurid reports about the process.
We can all remember the dreaded ‘trout pout‘ caused by over-enthusiastic lip enhancement (if not, Google Images provides a marvellous gallery for anyone wishing to indulge in a little schadenfreude). The more modern version is the pillow face, the unnaturally plumped-up look of someone who has had too many fillers or injectables squeezed under their wrinkles.
Of course, surgery is never without danger, but for some the potential results of a mummy job to remove post-pregnancy belly sag, an umbiloplasty to turn a protruding navel inwards, or a dimple-plasty to create cute dimples is worth the risk. And if things go wrong, there is always undo-plasty – surgery to reverse the previous procedure. Apparently, this kind of reverse surgery is now big business, with many clients reporting a sense of satisfaction at getting their ‘real’ selves back. But as the gossip site Jezebel so neatly puts it: ‘Isn’t the ultimate undo-plasty not to go under the knife in the first place?’