beauty

'After plastic surgery, my confidence bloomed so much I became school captain.'

Here’s a fun (and slightly disturbing) fact: plastic surgery has been around since the Bronze Age.

The earliest transcripts of surgical tinkering date back to around 3,000 BC, where an Ancient Egyptian medical text dubbed the ‘Edwin Smith Papyrus’ gives directions on how to repair a broken nose.

Fast forward to 800 BC, and Indian surgeon Sushrata was instructing his students on reconstructing noses, genitalia, earlobes and more that had been mutilated for religious or legal punishment.

Um, do you think they had anaesthetic?

Wait, wait...did Sushrata have anaesthetic?

And onwards we marched through history, playing with knives, noses, and new looks.

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By 1923, the first modern rhinoplasty procedure took place, and in 1962, American Timmie Jean Lindsey received the first ever silicone breast implant.

The rest, as they say, was history.

Here we are in 2016, and cosmetic surgery is prolific.

We only need to look to a single family for proof: enter stage left the Kardashian-Jenner clan.

As a family, they tick every box for every procedure imaginable. Caitlyn Jenner underwent a $70,000, ten hour  'feminisation' surgery marathon, whilst daughter Kylie is barely recognisable after multiple procedures, most notably her lip fillers and rumored buttock/hip implants.

Oh, and she's 18.

Among the sisters, Kourtney, Khloe, and Kim have all been reported to have had similar procedures. From rhinoplasties to breast lifts, breast augmentation to brow lifts, this million-dollar TV family have come to represent our modern, oh-so-casual approach to plastic surgery.

Whether it's a flat chest or a large nose, our lesson to teens worldwide is very clear: nothing needs to be permanent.

Well, perhaps not for much longer.

Hitting the news today was the announcement from the Australian Medical Board that they are 'cracking down' on cosmetic surgery procedures, particularly in regards to those under the age of 18.

"Cosmetic surgery is growing in popularity. According to the latest figures, Australians spend more on cosmetic procedures per capita than Americans," says a report from the ABC today.

"Each year, 16,000 Australians get breast implants and another 15,000 undergo liposuction, with up to $300 million spent annually on anti-wrinkle injections."

Given our growing addiction to the nip/tuck, Aussie doctors are now being asked to step up and take greater responsibility in guiding and supporting patients electing to go under the knife for the sake of beauty.

Key points from the new Medical Board guidelines are:

>> A seven-day cooling off period for all patients considering a major procedure;

>> A three-month cooling off period for patients under 18 years old, as well as mandatory counselling by a psychologist, psychiatrist or GP;

>> The treating practitioner to take "explicit responsibility" for post-operative care, as well as emergency facilities when using anaesthesia;

>> Mandatory consultations either in person or via Skype for patients considering prescription-only injectables like Botox and fillers; and

>> Detailed written information about costs for patients.

With girls as young as 13 getting rhinoplasty surgeries, one can only imagine that this is a positive move.

Should people considering cosmetic procedures be encouraged to have second, third, fourth thoughts about permanently changing their bodies? Absolutely. Regardless of age, the mental repercussions that accompany plastic surgery are vast.

In a report from Norway, women aged from 12 to 70 were interviewed and studied in the years prior and following their cosmetic procedures, with results showing that their original emotional or mental distress was not solved by surgery - rather it was amplified.

"It seems like those who get cosmetic surgery have more problems than others," says Associate Professor Ingela Lundin Kvalem, a co-author of the study. "And after the surgeries, their symptoms of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and excessive alcohol consumption have increased."

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So, should plastic surgery be the realm of a surgeon, a psychologist, or both?

Julia Morris talks about getting botox. (Post continues after video)

The Tillman* family know all about cosmetic surgery. Sharon, 62, and her daughters Amy, 32, and Lucy, 28, have all had breast reduction surgery. They were around a 14E before their surgeries, with all women opting for a 14B.

Speaking with them, you understand very quickly this was not a decision grounded in vanity. From severe back problems to crippling self-confidence issues, the girls and their mum consider themselves extremely lucky to have a second lease on life thanks to the surgery.

Amy was 15 when she underwent her breast reduction surgery. An extremely sporty child, she was devastated at her 14E chest that prevented her from playing the sports she loved.

"I was a tortured little soul," remembers Amy. "I had been bullied to no end about it [her breast size] and given up all sports - which were my identity - because of it."

I ask Amy whether or not it was a quick decision - or indeed one that required three months of 'cooling off'.

"I was facing big choices regarding whether if I made this decision: would I be able to breastfeed, would I have breasts that anyone would find attractive, would I find a life partner that would support my choices?"

"This is a big deal for a 15 year old but I knew I needed and wanted to do it. I didn't go into it lightly and had been experiencing significant mental and physical health problems as a result. Would a cooling off period hurt in this instance? No. I didn't feel rushed."

Over 15 years since the operation, Amy notes that whilst her body still holds the scars of the surgery - posture disfiguration, back problems, and scarring under her breasts - she wouldn't have changed her decision for the world.

"I wanted it and my confidence bloomed so much as a result I ended up becoming school captain. I still remember someone saying, 'I had no idea you were in our grade 8-10. You just seemed to appear in grade 11!'  So yes, it hurt physically, but the mental anguish of being a teen that was sporty with size E breasts was worse."

Coachella ???????? (follow me on Snapchat winter.ariel)

A photo posted by Ariel Winter (@arielwinter) on Apr 22, 2016 at 3:03pm PDT

Younger sister Lucy has a slightly different story to tell.

She was 18 when she had the operation, and notes that her body actually ended up changing so much that they have almost grown to the same size they were pre-op.

At the same age as Modern Family actress Ariel Winter when she got her operation, she too was sick of constantly being made to feel awkward for her large chest.

"I don't regret it, I wish the timing was different." says Lucy.

"I loved not being identified as just my boobs - leaving the labels of 'tits magee' was excellent, but my body was still growing then and in fact my breasts have pretty much almost grown back to size! I didn't expect that to happen I think. I think if I had done the surgery a few years later, the long term results would be better."

Cosmetic surgery with a medical reason is one thing. But what about teen procedures that aren't exactly necessary?

Kate, 29, had her ears pinned back when she was 15.

After years and years of merciless teasing, her confidence was shot.

"I never wore my hair up because of my ears," remembers Kate, "but I did once when I was six. That day, a guy who was about 15 and the 'cool' guy, told me I was really ugly. From that day forward I always wore my hair down to cover them up."

"But then, when it was done [the surgery], I felt much better and dared to wear my hair as I chose to."

This isn't a new story: most of us will know at least one person who had a minor operation as a teen that saw their confidence soar. From Lucy and Amy's breast surgery, to Kate's ear procedure, there is no doubt that a 'cooling off' period wouldn't be necessary for some teens.

But for others, it saved a major mistake.

Amanda Lepore has had decades of plastic surgery work.

26-year-old Jake came close to surgery as a teen.

Young, gay, and suffering from acne; Jake was eternally unhappy with what he saw in the mirror. Thankfully, the closest he came to body-modification was heavy make-up and outrageous wardrobe.

"I had horribly low self esteem for most of my teenage years, and battled with really bad acne for ages," he says.

"I never had nice skin, and from very young (maybe 15) I was very vain. I actually fear that I would've done a lot when I was that young. I would've had a nose job....probably had laser on my skin. I actually felt really good about who I was when I was a child, but never compared my physical self to others, but when I hit adolescence it was a problem I guess."

 

Jake is thankful, ten years down the track, that he persevered through difficult times and learnt to accept who he was. "I think I'd also have been emotionally a different person if I had gone down the path of cosmetic surgery. I don't think that a nose job actually would have made me happy with my appearance at all.. And so I think it would have led to other procedures.. Other "faults" that I could fix." Jocelyn Wildenstein.

From the Bronze Ages to now, the human body has intrigued and impressed at it's ability to be chopped and changed, and still bounce back. But where do we stop?

I mean, you only need to look to celebs like Michael Jackson, Jocelyn Wildenstein, Amanda Lepore, and more recently Lil' Kim, to fully understand how far an individual is actually able to go when it comes to changing their appearance.

And whilst it is rare for someone to become so fully addicted to cosmetic surgery that, well, their nose falls off; there is no doubt that it's a slippery slope when you start in your teens.

So without closing the door on young people who have their lives changed positively by cosmetic procedures, let's catch the others before it's too late.

*Name changed for privacy reasons.

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