Dying to be beautiful

Last winter, author and satirist Olivia Goldsmith, 54, died on the operating table from complications during six hours of plastic surgery. A few months later, 51 year-old Michele Charest, known for her successful children’s books, died of heart failure during a surgical face-lift at Notre Dame Hospital.

Joan Rivers. Roseanne Barr. Barbara Walters. All these celebrities have gone under the knife for countless nip and tucks, lifts and injections and who knows what else. Like these celebrities, Goldsmith and Charest were successful and accomplished women. But unlike Rivers, Barr and Walters, Goldsmith and Charest died tragically.

Read virtually any magazine and you’ll encounter the obsession with beauty.

On TV, programs like Extreme Makeover, a show that attempts to cure self esteem problems with plastic surgery is just one of the many vacuous productions that capitalize on our youth obsession.

On ABC’s Extreme Makeover we see women who have had so much plastic surgery that they’re thrilled when their own children don’t recognize them. On MTV’s I Want a Famous Face, people who are barely old enough to vote want to be cut to look like Brad or Britney. The Swan, is a show that follows a group of eight women who claim to have had nose jobs, breast implants and liposuction, all for the slim chance to compete in a beauty pageant.

Producers would have us believe the Swan’s reality is a true reflection of society. They may have a point.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported there were 8.7 million cosmetic procedures performed in 2003, more than four times the amount done in 1992. Most were non-invasive techniques such as botox injections and chemical peels, but more than 1.7 million procedures done last year involved going under the knife.

Despite the deaths of Goldsmith and Charest, people are still flocking to clinics for procedures.

Formerly exotic procedures, like botox injections to fight wrinkles and Restylane injections for fuller lips, have now become commonplace and acceptable.

The clientele is getting younger, too. Once considered the fountain of youth for the over 40 crowd, nip and tucks and botox injections are gaining popularity among people aged 18-35, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). The ASPS also reported there were 24 per cent more plastic surgery patients under the age of 18 in 2002 than in the year 2000.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) now identifies that, one in five cosmetic surgery patients is a man. More and more men are refusing to accept baggy eyes, turkey necks, wrinkled brows, a bulging waistline or even love handles. Receding hairlines and greying hair are no longer distinguishing features. Hair implants, liposuction, and penis enlargements are just some of the procedures men are opting for.

Take Gregory Wolf, who gave his real name but was against posing for a picture. Wolf drove down to Toronto on his vacation and walked into Surgeon Mark Dup


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