Strange Plastic Surgery

In 2017 about 1.8 million cosmetic plastic surgeries were performed in the US, totaling more than $16 billion when combined with minimally invasive procedures, according to data released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


Despite the prevalence and growing acceptance of plastic surgery, there are some things that may come as a shock to many people. For instance, some doctors use medical-grade leeches to treat gangrene in which the tissue dies due to insufficient blood flow after surgery.


weird facts about plastic surgery

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Leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley shares some weird facts about plastic surgery:


* Medical grade leeches are sometimes used to treat postop complications.


Smoking causes poor healing by constricting the blood vessels that are supposed to bring the much-needed oxygen, leading to gangrene and other complications. This is where leeches come to the rescue.


Leech therapy has been around for 2,500 years. Its concept is fairly simple: Blood-sucking worms drain the old blood and thus improve circulation. Oftentimes, the unhealthy purplish tissue turns into healthy pink just after a few days of treatment.


  • Today’s men are placing more attention on their appearance.


Last year more than 1.6 million cosmetic plastic surgeries were performed on US men, accounting for 13 percent of all the procedures. In addition, they had about 14 million minimally invasive treatments, with Botox and dermal fillers being the most common.


Meanwhile, South Korean men kick it up a notch. Not only they undergo plastic surgery to have a softer, more feminine face (juxtaposing it with their macho physique), they also consume 20 percent of the world’s cosmetics for men.


  • Cosmetic surgery may motivate people to live healthier lives.


A recent study published by journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery has suggested that patients quit smoking or at least smoke less after their surgery. (Note: The vast majority of plastic surgeons require complete smoking cessation two weeks before and two weeks after the operation.)


In addition, several studies have suggested that tummy tuck patients who were previously obese were more successful in keeping a healthy weight compared to patients who skipped body contouring following massive weight loss. Some researchers concluded that the improved physique could serve as their motivation, while others attributed it to the reduction of belly fat, which is linked to the feeling of hunger.


  • Selfies are driving plastic surgery’s boom.

Small surveys and anecdotal reports have pointed out a link between selfies and the growing popularity of facial plastic surgeries and non-surgical enhancements. Dermal fillers, Botox, chin augmentation, and rhinoplasty (nose job) are often mentioned by Selfie enthusiasts.

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A Korean woman has admitted getting a series of plastic surgery in an attempt to look like her celebrity idol Miranda Kerr who is known as one of Victoria Secret’s popular angels.  While now that she looks like the model’s long-lost twin sister, some people still think that her “inspiration” to go under the knife is an unhealthy one.

Hong Yuh Reum, who is now a budding model, has appeared on a Japanese TV show that tackles the issue of extreme plastic surgery and told the audience that seeing Kerr for the first time in a magazine inspired her to undergo surgical enhancements.


“I knew I wanted to be like her,” the Korean model said, referring to Kerr’s “baby face and sultry body.”

In a separate interview, Hong’s said the Australian model was the only one who captivated her attention despite the presence of other beautiful supermodels while watching Victoria Secret’s runway show, which she saw in TV.

During the show, Hong’s “before” plastic surgery photos were presented that revealed that she was attractive even prior to her surgical enhancements.

Hong has admitted that some people discouraged her to go under the knife, telling her that she would look like a “plastic surgery monster.”  But since she sparingly and carefully used surgical enhancements, no one can deny that she looks naturally pretty.

But despite her seemingly successful surgical enhancements, even some plastic surgeons have expressed their concern that her “goals” are not that healthy.

In US, the vast majority of patients only ask for “ subtle improvements” rather than “complete overhaul,” a trend which is the exact opposite in many Asian countries where extreme plastic surgeries have almost become the social norm.

For instance, in Korea and China invasive procedures that can significantly change the shape of the face—such as jaw reduction and cheek shaving—are quite common these days.

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It is increasingly becoming a common news: fugitives undergoing extensive plastic surgery to avoid arrests, with some of them even resorting to do-it-yourself procedure such as the story of one Japanese man who cut his own lips.

According to local news in China, a woman has changed her appearance through eyelid surgery and rhinoplasty (nose job) in an attempt to evade police authorities who were looking after her.


It has been reported that the 21-year-old fugitive and two of her accomplice were under police surveillance over a report that they were engaged in blackmailing a victim of the so-called “badger game” wherein the male target was tricked into some kind of compromising situation.

While the woman evaded the police for more than a year with her new look, it backfired when airport security staff saw the great disparity between her passport photo and her current appearance, and took her into custody.

During interrogation, the fugitive admitted stealing the identity of her cousin after realizing that she resembled her following the cosmetic procedures.

But surprisingly, it was not her nose or eye that made the staff at passport control suspicious of her.  Instead, the suspicion was based on the fugitive’s ears that did not match her photos.

Several years ago, a fugitive has done the same thing.  Daniel Barrera, who was the most wanted drug lord at that time of his arrest in Venezuela, underwent countless of plastic surgery procedures to evade authorities.  He was only captured when he used a public payphone.

Because a growing number of criminals—from lowly crooks to the most wanted fugitives—are changing their appearance through surgical enhancement, a team of scientists has developed facial recognition software that is designed to match individual facial features of a person rather than his entire face, resulting in a more accurate comparison.

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Now that vampire-themed movies and television series are the in thing, a new type of facial rejuvenation procedure called vampire facelift is getting a lot of attention these days, with some Hollywood celebrities even swearing by it.

But what really is a vampire facelift?  Does it deserve the media hype, or is it nothing but a misnomer?


Despite its namesake, a vampire facelift is different from the traditional facelift surgery in which the goal is to lift and reshape the skin and deeper tissue in an attempt to minimize the appearance of facial aging, e.g., wrinkles and saggy skin.

The basic idea behind the procedure is to take a sample of the patient’s blood, process it in order to collect the platelet rich plasma or PRP, and then inject it to the face, together with traditional dermal fillers such as Juvederm and Restylane.  Initially, this was only given to patients with certain health problems such as those involving the bone.

Proponents of vampire facelift are even bold enough to claim that PRP is the new “fountain of youth,” with an additional bonus that it is au naturel.

But amidst the media hype, there is much controversy surrounding the intrinsic effectiveness of the vampire facelift, in addition to its rather misleading name.  While the traditional dermal fillers have a long track record of safety and benefits, a procedure that combines it with PRP has no comprehensive data showing its “purported” advantage.

In fact, even with dermal fillers alone one could achieve good results if the only concern is loss of facial volume or fat.

If one really desires an all-natural approach to correct loss of facial volume, most doctors would agree that fat transfer—also referred to as fat graft—is a better approach because of its long track record suggesting its reasonable safety and effectiveness if the right techniques are used.

Fat graft to create more facial volume involves collecting a small amount of excess fat from the body—preferably the tummy or buttocks—with the use of syringe or gentle liposuction.  The fat is then purified to remove blood and other biomaterials that could affect its survival rate in its new location.

However, it is important to mention that fat graft works better in correcting loss of facial volume, while traditional fillers such as collagen and hyaluronic acid are more ideal in treating deep wrinkles such as the nasolabial folds or the lines between the nose and mouth.

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While South Koreans have long been known as the most ardent patrons of cosmetic plastic surgery, outsiders may still find it surprising that a procedure in which the shape of the head is “enhanced” and turned into a rounder shape is gaining popularity in the country.

Called as the round head plastic surgery, the aim is to correct the flat or “deflated” back of the head through the use of a small discreet incision that will allow surgeons to attach a type of bone cement, which weighs 20 to 80 grams.  Some patients requesting for the procedure has a condition called plagiocephaly or “flat head syndrome,” which is often corrected with the use of helmet for a few months as the child grows.


According to one clinic in South Korea, most patients who asked for the round head surgery, which is not yet a mainstream procedure, were ridiculed for the shape of their head.

(Image from For most Westerners, the procedure would most likely appear as too excessive especially when their culture does not favor a particular head shape—or simply put—they really don’t care about the appearance of other people’s head.

But South Koreans are not the only ones who are asking for weird plastic surgeries (from the perspective of most Westerners).  For instance, a growing number of Chinese are asking for dermal fillers to enlarge their earlobes, which are believed to attract more luck, while Japanese are asking for palm surgery in an attempt to change their fate.

However, over the past several years South Koreans have still ranked as the most surgically enhanced people in the world.  According to a recent study, about 20 percent of women aged 19 and 49 living in the capital Seoul had some form of cosmetic enhancement.

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Why would anyone want to undergo a plastic surgery procedure in which the goal is to plaster a permanent smile on her face?

Apparently, some women in Korea, which is dubbed as the plastic surgery capital of the world, are even asking for the procedure called the “smile surgery” that lifts the corners of their mouths.  According to previous reports, most patients requested for it after receiving criticism from work because of their “unfriendly” expression.


While a vast majority of patients are women in their 20s and 30s, a growing number of men are also persuaded to undergo the procedure.

One clinic that offers the procedure, Aone Plastic & Aesthetic Surgery, has been under controversy in recent weeks after posting before-and-after pictures online of patients who had the smile surgery.  Some people commented that the “result” resembled the appearance of Joker, a fictional character from the Batman series.

But despite some criticism, the Korean doctors who perform the procedure have recently released a statement saying that their patients with “naturally” downturned lips had been “emotionally and psychologically” scarred from hurtful remarks about their appearance.

The cosmetic surgeons of Aone said most of their patients asking for the smile surgery are working in the service industry (e.g., flight attendants and consultants) where a “friendly” appearance is important to attract and “appease” customers.

In the West, the procedure is typically only reserved for older patients with downturned lips asking for facelift surgery to rejuvenate the face; it is not generally used to create a permanent smile on the face over concern that it may not look natural and at the same time impede with facial expression.

The smile surgery is performed by removing some muscle tissue located at the lip’s corners, a technique that was initially developed as part of facelift surgery.

According to report, the average cost of smile surgery is $2,000 and requires up to six months of recovery.

In terms of the number of plastic surgery patients per capita, South Korea is in the number one spot, according to a survey released by the Internal Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.

In Seoul, one survey has suggested that one out of five women aged between 19 and 49 have had undergone some of plastic surgery.

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