Plastic surgery has existed in one form or another for hundreds of years. Of course, 16th century plastic surgery was by no means as refined as it is today, but it did set a precedent and start a trend of trying to fix, at first, disfigurements and then, in time, just things people felt were aesthetically displeasing about themselves. These days you can go to a doctor and get them to change literally any part of your body if you can afford it, whether there’s a problem with it or not. And some of the procedures being done are stranger than you’d think.
10. Elf Ear Surgery
Ears have been a staple of fantasy and sci-fi for many years now. Specifically, ears that look a little weird. If you want to give a quick sign that someone is not quite human, you give them weird ears. Just look at Vulcans and elves, both of whom are known for having pointy ears and are generally human-looking otherwise, at least in most popular stories about them.
The pointy ear trope is so prevalent in fiction that a certain subsection of fans have opted to make a permanent alteration to their bodies to keep the look. Rather than cosplaying as elves or other whimsical creatures, they’re getting surgery to have elf ears.
The trend has really taken off in China, where the concept of elf ears is not necessarily pointy ears but noticeable ones. The surgery makes the ears more prominent. Injections of hyaluronic acid can be used, and potentially surgical alteration by implanting cartilage behind them can make a person’s ears stand out away from their head. It’s believed this offers a more slimming appearance to the face overall.
Of course, literal elf ear surgery is also a thing where surgeons can cut into the cartilage at the top of the ear and reshape it into a point, though it’s not without complications and the potential for serious infection or malformation.
9. Selfies May be Driving an Uptick in Nose Job Surgeries
There’s no denying we’re living in a bit of a self-obsessed age. The idea of a selfie in a time before camera phones was pretty unheard of. Most people didn’t want to waste film turning a camera on themselves. But your phone can take a million pictures and you can delete all the ones you don’t like, so it’s pretty easy to chronicle what you look like all day long every day if you want. But that does come at a price.
The way you take a picture can alter your perception of your appearance. If you hold your phone at a distance of 12 inches from your face or closer, it’s going to make your nose look 30% larger compared to all your other facial features. That works out to your nose looking 6.4% longer than it really is. The base of the nose looks wider and your chin looks shorter. Basically, every selfie has a fun house mirror effect on your face. That’s a simple matter of perspective. But in the world of selfies, you’re often limited to close up shots because you can only hold a phone at arm’s length, usually. The result has been a rise in people wanting nose jobs because they have a distorted perception of their face thanks to close up selfies.
8. Arowana Fish Get Plastic Surgery in Asia
Not everyone knows that there have been a fair number of innovations in the world of plastic surgery for animals over the years, often for surprising reasons. Imagine, for instance, a turtle or tortoise injured in a way that nearly destroys their shell. In the past this might have killed the animal, but we can design shells for them now and perform life saving surgery. Then there’s the arowana fish.
In China these fish are a symbol of wealth and status. Why? Why not? Young fish may start at a staggering $1,000 a piece but prices can skyrocket to over $300,000 for others. They can grow to as much as three feet in length and can live for 10 to 20 years. Some owners have spent close to a million dollars establishing aquariums just to show them off.
Because they are so prized and so valuable, they’re also well taken care of, at least in the minds of their owners. Fish with droopy eyes can be taken to a plastic surgeon to have an eyelift. According to the doctor who performs surgeries like these they’re not cruel because the fish will look better and the owner will love it more as a result.
7. Takeji Harada Had Six Inches of Silicone Added To His Head To Meet a Sumo Height Requirement
In the world of sports it’s typically against the rules to get any kind of medical intervention that might give you an advantage. But that also usually means you’re getting performance enhancing drugs. It’s rare that plastic surgery could ever help an athlete, but it’s not impossible, as Takeji Harada proved when he found a way to become a professional sumo wrestler.
It turns out that if you want to be a pro sumo wrestler you need to be at least 5-foot-8. Harada, who was just 16-years-old, was 5-foot-2. After being rejected many times for not meeting height requirements, Harada came up with a new plan. He had six inches of silicone implanted in his scalp, thus giving him the needed height to compete. The move prompted the Japanese Sumo Association to make an official statement saying they would no longer allow people to qualify if they artificially boosted their height.
Harada apparently spent a year and underwent four procedures to get the required height which, in the end, was literally a six-inch mound on top of his head. Word is another wrestler just bashed his head against a wall so they could measure the bump and he’d qualify as well.
6. Cinderella Foot Surgery
There’s a clear divide in Western society between traditional men’s and women’s footwear. A lot of women’s footwear is fairly impractical. High heeled shoes require you to walk with your foot at an uncomfortable angle, and they are often very narrow, which can squish a person’s foot. Rather than choosing different footwear, however, some women have opted to choose different feet. The Cinderella surgery allows this to happen by reshaping the foot so it fits into smaller shoes.
One doctor from Beverly Hills started doing the procedure after patients would increasingly bring in the shoes they wanted to fit into. Surgeries can include toe-shortening, toe-lengthening, and a Foot Tuck, which adds padding for wearing heels.
The process is a bit of a self-fulfilling one as many of the patients only go to a doctor after years of wearing shoes that they shouldn’t be wearing. Their feet become deformed as a result and they need surgery to correct what happened so they can keep wearing the shoes.
5. Beard Transplant Surgery
Hair transplants are not an entirely new concept by any means, but you may not be aware that beard transplants are also a thing for the man who has issues with growing facial hair. Patchy beards are the bane of many a man’s face, so beard transplant surgery aims to fix that by taking hair from a donor part of a man’s body, say the back of his head, and grafting it onto his face.
You could be looking at 1,000 to 1,500 individual grafts to get the desired effect. The grafted hair will also fall out as a normal part of the process. However, within three months to one year the idea is that it will take root and new hair will start growing on its own. Now whether it comes in as thick, bristly beard hair, or fine hair – like the texture of scalp hair – isn’t really addressed.
4. Abdominal Etching
A six-pack is more than just a convenient way to enjoy beer, it’s a way to show off your well-sculpted abdominal muscles. Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability or discipline to get their body in that kind of shape. But if you still want abs without the work, maybe surgery can get you there.
Abdominal etching is a kind of liposuction that can help define your stomach muscles when crunches don’t do the trick. Fat is removed in very specific places to help accentuate the musculature, but doctors note it will work best if you already work out and stick to a healthy diet. Consider it a helping hand.
Post-op, the patient needs to keep the lines compressed during the healing process for two weeks in what sounds a bit like reinforcing wrinkles or folds in clothing.
3. Snapchat Filter Surgeries
We already saw how a selfie can distort someone’s body image enough to make them want surgery, but that was almost understandable. The image is being distorted, which gives the individual an incorrect perception of themselves. It’s based on an illusion. The rise in Snapchat filter surgery is a little harder to account for because, in this case, people are intentionally distorting their appearance and then wanting the reality to match it.
Snapchat’s rise to fame in the late 2010s brought about what some called Snapchat Dysmorphia. Snapchat (and now most image-based apps do the same) allows for the application of various filters and manipulation techniques that changes the way you look in your photo.
Filters can sometimes make drastic appearance changes, but there are many more subtle ones that might make your eyes bigger and brighter, your skin smoother and lighter, and so on. Doctors began seeing a rise in patients wanting their real appearance to mimic that filtered appearance, even when it was not even realistic.
The result is more procedures using face fillers, Botox, nose jobs, and so on. Doctors would see patients who brought in photos of themselves with filtered features instead of pictures of celebrities they wanted to look like. Some were so unrealistic the doctors had to turn the potential patients down by telling them what they were looking for was literally impossible.
Despite how well known the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is, people are still quick to point to specific things that are apparently beautiful. You can Google it and get lists of features that might include full lips or high cheek bones, among others. Another fairly well known feature considered attractive are dimples. There’s a sense that dimples imply youthfulness and innocence. And since not everyone naturally has dimples, plastic surgery is there to ensure you at least have the option.
Dimpleplasty is the all-too-obvious name for the procedure that seeks to simply mimic the defect in cheek musculature that would normally cause a dimple. The process may require some muscle tissue to be removed, or just anchoring skin to soft tissue with sutures. For many it’s a very simple procedure that just requires a local anesthetic.
1. Pet Plastic Surgery
The pet plastic surgery industry is about as weird as you might guess. The variety of procedures is not as high as it is for humans, but much of it still plays to vanity, but a sort of vanity-by-proxy since it’s unlikely the pets know or care that they look a certain way.
Neuticles have existed since the mid-1990s and they are an artificial testicle replacement for neutered animals. According to the company website the purpose is to help “neuter-hesitant pet owners overcome the trauma of altering and allowing their beloved pet to retain its natural look and self-esteem.” Some vets agree that it’s a great idea. Some think it’s completely ridiculous and just for insecure owners. The product has made its inventor a millionaire, however, so a lot of people are on board.
The full range of pet surgery can be unexpected. Aside from testicular implants, people are giving their pets Botox for wrinkles and nose jobs, both of which could have practical and even life-saving reasons for certain breeds. Many pug-faced breeds do have breathing issues, and some of the wrinklier breeds can develop dangerous infections. But then there are also tummy tucks, eye lifts and even braces.
Many of the procedures are intended to improve the dog’s quality of life, though it’s debatable whether a neutered dog has any idea that it lost its testicles and now has a new pair thanks to Neuticles.