The distinction between cosmetic surgery and other types of surgery such as reconstructive surgery is that cosmetic surgery involves techniques intended for the 'enhancement' of appearance. Cosmetic surgery involves both surgical and medical techniques and it is specifically concerned with maintaining normal appearance, restoring it, or enhancing it beyond the average level toward some aesthetic ideal. Cosmetic procedures have grown in popularity dramatically, in 2006, nearly 11 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the United States alone. The number of cosmetic procedures performed in the United States has increased over 50 percent since the start of the century. Nearly 12 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2007. In Europe, the second largest market for cosmetic procedures, cosmetic surgery is a $2.2 billion business. Cosmetic surgery is now very common in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. In Asia, cosmetic surgery has become an accepted practice; currently most widely prevalent and normal in China where it is currently Asia's biggest cosmetic surgery market1. Proponents argue that the risks inherent in surgery that is not medically necessary are too great and that women are merely succumbing to the pressures of men. Opponents, in contrast, argue women have a right to choose both how they look and what methods they choose to get to how they look. This debate will examine whether cosmetic surgery should be banned.
1 Cosmetic Surgery,(accessed 8/6/2011)
Elayne A. Saltzberg and Joan C. Chrisler, Beauty is the Beast: Psychological effects of the pursuit of the perfect female body, (Mountain view, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1995) (accessed 11/6/2011)