Cosmetic Surgery Television Shows: Are They Real or Fake?
by Cosmetics Expert Mike Dune
Reality television shows about plastic surgery focus on the good, bad, and ugly sides of cosmetic procedures. Why else would someone call a show Botched? But if you think that type of programming is scaring away viewers from going under the knife themselves, think again.
A new study suggests that — at least for one specific group of people — the opposite appears to be true. Researchers who surveyed college students who watch reality shows about cosmetic surgery perceive it in a more positive light.
“Participants who perceived realism in reality TV shows were most likely to find cosmetic surgery acceptable socially — meaning, if others approved, then they would pursue cosmetic surgery,” an article on the study posted in August to Healthcare Professionals Live® says.
Additionally, students who used Twitter to discuss the shows were even more inclined to have a positive view of cosmetic surgery, according to the researchers from Brooklyn College in New York. In other words, according to the study, people watching reality television shows about cosmetic surgery aren’t just being entertained — their attitudes about the subject are changed.
The study’s authors extrapolated the results, which appeared in the August issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, to conclude that plastic surgeons should consider advertising on reality shows.
“These reality television programs portray cosmetic surgery in a positive manner, and viewers with increased perceived realism will be a potential receptive audience toward such advertising.”
This isn’t the first research appearing in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery showing a link between cosmetic-themed reality television shows and the attitudes of people who watch them. The academic journal published a study in its July 2007 issue that surveyed 42 first-time cosmetic surgery patients about their television viewing habits and to what degree did reality shows influence their decision to have cosmetic surgery.
“Overall, four of five patients reported that television influenced them to pursue a cosmetic surgery procedure,” the results showed, “with one-third feeling ‘very much’ or ‘moderately influenced.'”
The study also suggested that the more reality shows about cosmetic procedures someone watched, the more knowledgeable they felt about cosmetic surgery in general. But both studies seem to suggest that someone watching an episode of Extreme Makeover just pops off the couch and goes to a plastic surgeon and gets a procedure done, no questions asked.
Ethical, board-certified plastic surgeons routinely screen out patients who come in wanting procedures that are not appropriate for them. Additionally, the shows usually feature extreme cases of patients who want drastic changes.
Dr. Jeffrey Rockmore, who is part of The Plastic Surgery Group, says on his website that most people who visit the plastic surgeon in Albany, New York, for cosmetic surgery “don’t want to look like someone completely different; they simply want to look good for themselves.”
That may not make for the most interesting reality television show, but it is more realistic.
And another surgeon said the success of the shows may simply reflect that attitudes about cosmetic procedures are already changing.
“The [cosmetic procedures] trend existed before the reality shows did,” Dr. Robert Singer, a plastic surgeon and a past president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), told Newsweek magazine in 2007. “The shows were just one more thing adding to it.”‘