Awful plastic surgery stories sell papers

Beauty in Seattle on 15 Aug 2006 at 11:20am

Tragic and awful plastic surgery events are headline grabbers. These stories get attention much like afternoon talk shows attract an audience. If you don't know what I mean, today you can watch Oprah's segment "Her husband tried to kill her three times."awful plastic surgery sells

My hunch is that (some) reporters cannot resist an awful plastic surgery story for reasons beyond selling their newspaper. It's because, based on their values, they believe that cosmetic surgery is vanity surgery. These procedures are unnecessary risks that are taken for the superficial cause of looking more attractive.

My suspicions are usually confirmed when the reporter fails to mention a single positive reason or benefit sought by a plastic surgery customer. They don't cover the fact that these plastic surgery patients are seeking, at the very least, to give a psychological boost to their lives. Perhaps the pursuit of greater self-esteem is insignificant to these writers.

Awful plastic surgery sells newspapersCase in point: "Liposuction Surgery can turn Deadly" (reported by MetroWest Daily News). Here we have three stories that got lumped under this sensationalist plastic surgery-related headline.

First, it appears that a number of the surgery-related deaths were due to general anesthesia. In other words, the patients could have just as easily died from an appendectomy as liposuction. This points to a problem with anesthesia, not with liposuction. The risk of anesthesia is inherent with any surgery. That's the story here.

Second, the reporter refers to a case where a man had liposuction in a basement of a house. That's an extremely odd and rare situation that unfortunately happens with all sorts of medical conditions and procedures. The story: quackery is everywhere, not just in the field of cosmetic surgery.

Finally, and most damaging to the credibility of this reporter, he admits that he doesn't know how many deaths were caused by liposuction-related complications: "State officials would only say that "fewer than six" of the deaths were caused by liposuction complications." In other words, the reporter built his entire story about lipo deadliness without hard facts. The story here: liposuction is not risk-free.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that liposuction can lead to very bad outcomes, but there's a lack of balance out there when it comes to telling the cosmetic surgery story.

What about highlighting the person who had liposuction and now feels no fear from being seen in shorts or t-shirts...or the woman who decided against liposuction but felt the consultation was life changing...or the woman who underwent a tummy tuck and now has the self-confidence to swim with her children... or the person who can look someone in the eye because they feel radiant with their surgery-altered nose?

These stories are coming through to, so I know they're out there. If you have one to share, please do so to help others get both sides of the story. Please comment below to do so!