An article recently in the Huffington Post from Lorraine Wilke struck a chord with me. Partly as a marketer, partly as a grandson, and mostly as someone who considers themselves a respectful human.
The article suggests that in becoming a culture that is obsessed with youth and doing anything to hold on to the beauty that is attached to youthful features, we’ve somehow subverted the value that the elderly provide. The piece paints an “Us vs. Them” picture between old people and the “Young turks” in various industries.
While it’s not actually disparaging towards older folks, there was an interesting statement about cosmetic surgery that I thought was inaccurately applied to the demographic. The implication was that older folks want cosmetic surgery to cling to a youthful image, and that surgeons might be catering to a market based on their fear of fading into a youth-less obscurity.
Some people who turn to cosmetic or plastic surgery are considered young already and may be trying to enhance certain features that provide personal satisfaction. But is this desire imbued upon these patients from societal pressure? Does simply looking youthful provide the utility to the patient that matches the demand for the annual cosmetic procedures?
Cosmetic surgery manipulates the outer appearance, but the long-term boost in self-confidence is where the true value of these procedures comes into play for many who elect to go under the knife. We are a species hard-wired to appreciate beauty, but for an individual, a healthy level of self-confidence goes much farther than being considered ‘youthful’.
In 2012 the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that the combined amount of traditional cosmetic surgeries and minimally-invasive procedures was 14,629,276. This figure was up 5% from 2011 and increased 98% compared to 2000. Plastic surgeons generally have a high satisfaction rate from their patients, is this because they have regained a few years in their outward appearance? Perhaps.
But there’s an intangible amount of self-confidence that comes from going about life knowing that an imperfection in your appearance has been remedied. Smoothing out a nasal hump that has bothered someone for many years provides a noticeable improvement in quality of life for a certain patient – a change that has little to do with appearing more “youthful.
Wilke hit the nail on the head in her closing statement from this article, “…that’s the secret. We’re all in this together; we’re just at different points of the trajectory: even that three-year-old is aging and you will be old someday, too.”
But let’s not make out all plastic surgeons to be peddlers of youthful ness who pander to those fearful of aging. Each of the 14 million procedures performed last year has a different story to tell. In addition to review sites like Yelp, some plastic surgeons offer patient testimonials on their website. Destin Plastic Surgery is an example of this; they offer plastic surgery to Panama City patients and have an extensive testimonials page for online visitors.