27. Cosmetic Surgery

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podcast transcript

Today I wanted to talk to you guys about cosmetic surgery, and this has become extremely popular here in the United States, even with people who are very young in high school. They’re getting these minor procedures to enhance their lips, or major procedures to fix things with their nose or change the way that their body looks. I think it’s become such an epidemic because people are trying to look like their Snapchat and Instagram filters. We also have apps like Facetune that allow you to change the way that your face looks, the structure of your nose, the height of your cheek bones. You can add makeup, and you can look like a completely perfected version of yourself using this app.

So what’s wrong with that is it’s creating this unrealistic image of how you should be. People go through surgery because they think that they can attain this level of perfection, and it creates this insatiable desire to keep looking perfect and more perfect every day. Cosmetic procedures have increased by 47% since 2013. I’m sure this is correlated with the rise of social media, as well. There were some facial plastic surgeons surveyed, and 72% of them said that they noticed that there was an increase in patients that were under 30 years old, so this is definitely happening with the young millennials who are on social media. If you flip through Instagram in the United States, you’ll see that there are so many perfect looking people, and there are YouTube videos that actually call these people out, showing the real versions of them and then the Instagram versions. And they look completely different. On Instagram, they have perfect, glowing skin. They have the smallest waist, the smallest nose, the biggest lips, and it’s all edited. And these kids are looking at these pictures and thinking that they need to look like that, so what they do is they ask their parents if they’re young, or they go straight to the doctor, and they get these surgeries to try to look like this perfect person, and that person doesn’t even look like that.

So four fifths of the cosmetic treatments that happened in 2018 were non-surgical procedures, like Botox, lip fillers, microneedling, and non-surgical rhinoplasty. So these are really minimally invasive procedures, like the lip fillers and Botox. These have become extremely popular, and I can see, even my friends have talked about getting them. I had a roommate get them, and it seems like no big deal, because everyone around you is getting them. However, it still is a big deal, because these lip fillers have been known to cause infections that destroy people’s faces. That requires surgery. And one doctor said that when you repeatedly enlarge your lips and pump them up as big as possible, that the lip filler can actually act as a tissue expander and permanently stretch your skin, which causes the lips to sag and deflate when the filler eventually degrades. So it leaves you looking worse than when you actually started. So that’s the thing about lip filler, is that it’s not a permanent solution to make your lips big. You have to keep going back. But if you keep putting so much lip filler in, eventually the lip filler is going to expand your lips to a point that it leaves it sagging when the lip filler isn’t there.

But what about the more intense procedures, like boob jobs or butt lifts? These are becoming extremely popular nowadays, with celebrities in the United States, like the Kardashians, who have small waists and big butts and big boobs. Everyone wants to look like them. One of the most popular surgeries now is butt augmentation, or butt lift, with fat grafting. So that’s where you’re going to take the fat from one unwanted area of fat, like your stomach, and then you’re going to put that fat into your butt. So this has been a hugely popular surgery. It’s increased 19% in 2018, with 24,099 procedures taking place. So this is a popular surgery. People want to have a big butt. And of course boob jobs have been popular for quite some time, but one of the things that bothers me about boob jobs is that people don’t actually realize how invasive and how serious this surgery is.

So breast implants can technically only last for around 10 years, and many of them are actually filled with toxic materials that can sometimes leak into your body, causing serious illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis. People have known to get very, very sick from breast implants. I don’t think the media quite covers the extent to which people have been hurt by breast implants, and how serious it is, because if you get breast implants at age 25, then they’re only going to last until 35. And if they last longer, they still pose a risk, so you’re going to have to keep getting surgery. I don’t think that people quite realize that when they’re going into it.

So what’s the problem with all of this? I had a roommate in Australia that wanted to get the fat grafting to increase her butt, and she started off with lip fillers, and she thought that they looked really good and she was happy. But then she thought, well if I do this, then I’ll be even happier with myself. So do you think that this really helps your self-esteem, or is there always going to be something more that you can change about yourself? I was speaking with one of my students about this, and they said, “You can change that one thing, and you’ll be happy for a little while. But then at some point, you’re going to be unhappy again, and there’s going to be something else that you’re going to want to change.” And I completely agree with this. I think that we have to start loving ourselves and accepting ourselves for who we are, rather than always trying to look at ways that we’re flawed and try to improve them.

We are beautiful just the way we are, and we don’t want to all look the same. That’s the beauty of the human race, is that we’re all unique and have beautiful traits, each and every one of us. And if you keep getting these surgeries, at what point do you stop? One of my students said that her mom was getting Botox, and she said that it was addictive for her, that she started getting a little bit at first and maybe now she’s gotten a little bit too much. So at what point are you able to stop this and say okay, I’ve reached the point where I think I look my best? I don’t know that you actually do reach that, because it’s like tattoos. You just keep wanting more and more. One of the things that I think people don’t consider when they’re getting this work done is how it will affect them in the long run. How is that going to look when you’re 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 years old? If you get a boob job now, are you still going to want those large breasts at age 50? Maybe so, but it’s very possible that you won’t.

My mom had a boob job, or breast implants, and I know that she told me to never get them. She wished that she hadn’t gotten them, because now at her age, around her 50s, it’s just not as pleasant. It’s just not as necessary as before. So I think that your perception will change if you think about things long term, and if you start to work on your relationship with yourself and start to accept and love yourself. Now, I’m not saying I’m against all cosmetic surgery entirely. If you’ve been in an accident and you want to fix a problem on your face, or if you want to adjust your teeth to make them straight, or if there’s one thing that’s bothered you your whole life and made you insecure that you want to fix, I understand. But if you are going into this to look like Snapchat filters or that perfect person on Instagram, you’re never going to be satisfied, and the surgeries will never stop. So I would love to hear what you guys think. Check out the post for this on wonderinenglish.com, under cosmetic surgery, and leave a comment there and let me know what you think about these kinds of procedures. Are they equally as popular in your home country? Because they are getting super popular here.



Cosmetic surgeryA treatment intended to restore or improve a person’s appearance.
ProceduresA surgical operation.
EnhanceIntensify, increase, or further improve the quality, value, or extent of something.
EpidemicA widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. In this case, I used it figuratively to describe a widespread occurrence of plastic surgery.
To achieve or to reach something you desire.
When it’s impossible to satisfy your appetite or desire for something.
When two things have a mutual relationship or connection, in which one thing affects or depends on another.
To investigate the opinions or experience of (a group of people) by asking them questions.
Shining, give out steady light without flame.
The small area of your stomach above your hips.
A drug that’s injected to cosmetically to remove wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing facial muscles.
FillersHyaluronic acid fillers can improve the appearance of your lips by adding shape, structure, and volume. There are many types of dermal fillers that can be injected in your lips and around your mouth. But the most common fillers today are products that contain substances similar to hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance found in the body. It helps increase volume in your lips. The effects typically last around six months. After that more injections are needed to keep the volume of your lips.
MicroneedlingThe insertion of very fine short needles into the skin for the purposes of rejuvenation. It makes you have less cellulite and gives your skin more elasticity and collagen which makes your skin look younger and less wrinkled.
RhinoplastyA surgery that changes the shape of your nose.
Minimally invasiveInvolving very little use of instruments or other objects being put into the body.
EnlargeTo make bigger
Pump upTo fill something; to increase in excitement; to fill something with air

ex. I was pumped up for the concert next week.

ex. I pumped up my bicycle tires for the long ride ahead.

SagTo lower or sink down because of lack of strength or structure
DeflateTo let air or gas out of something
Degrade Break down or deteriorate chemically. This can also mean to treat or regard (someone) with contempt or disrespect.
Butt augmentationAugmentation means to make something larger, so you’re making your butt bigger via surgery.
Leak intoA leak involves the release of something. Leak means to allow light or fluid to escape through a hole. In this case, the breast implants caused silicone to leak into people’s bodies.
Rheumatoid arthritisAn autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system – which normally protects its health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks the joints.
PerceptionYour way of seeing, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.

Idioms and Collocations

Call someone outWhen you expose someone for being wrong about something.
Pose a riskThis is a collocation we use all the time to say that something creates a risk or has a risk. We also say “runs a risk” in different contexts.
In the long runThis is a phrase we use to mean after many years. For example, you should make decisions that will be better for you in the long run when you are older.


1. How popular is cosmetic surgery in your country?

2. What are your opinions on cosmetic surgery?

3. How do you think cosmetic surgery will affect people’s health in the long run?

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