On Parenting: Leave no body part behind in plastic surgery trend

A collection of trouble spots in need of fixing. Sound like geopolitics?

Nope, just women's bodies in the brave and booming new world of plastic surgery.

Men are having more cosmetic work done too, but it's still the women leading the pack when it comes to rearranging body landscape.

Women had 87 percent of the 8.3 million surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures done in 2003, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Our natural selves, we seem to believe, were a badly engineered product from the start and need constant upgrades.

Tummy tucks, brow lifts or breast jobs? That's old school trussing. The new mantra in makeovers is Leave No Body Part Behind.

For example, toe reduction is an increasingly popular service on the reshape-my-meat menu.

Female toes, especially as the foot ages, are too long, too broad or offer too much evidence of the weight they've born over the years to fit into today's chic shoes designed for elegant tootsies.

So now you can lop them off. Or have them "trimmed," conjuring the image of some guy firing up a weed whacker to deal with overgrowth in the troublesome toe region.

But I mustn't wax too snide. I remember being dismayed - post pregnancies - when the shoe clerk told me not to worry, lots of mothers' feet go up a size.

Then there's bellybutton sculpting. More women are opting to transform what they perceive as an ugly umbilicus into a specimen worthy of display, perhaps to complement a bellybutton ring.

And myriad body parts can now be liposuctioned to make them smaller or injected with substances to make them bigger.

That includes the balls of the feet, which apparently lose fat as you age. Does seem a bit unfair, considering all the parts of the body that do the opposite.

But never fear; podiatrists can now pad bony feet with collagen or hyaluronic acid. This relieves the pressure caused by wearing high heels, including the fashionable brand of footwear known as mules.

Put your trimmed and plumped dogs in your mules and you're set for a glamorous evening.

Seems silly, not to mention bizarre and disturbing, especially when you imagine how such voluntary tortures must seem to people who undergo plastic surgery to correct actual deformities, or repair damages from injury or disease. Going to the flesh doctor for an eyelid renovation or to get a little frappe of fat whipped off the flanks isn't cheap either.

Americans spend billions of dollars on such treatments every year, and we're doing it earlier in our shelf life. Thirty-year-olds, for example, are waging bacterial warfare on wrinkles by getting Botox at the first appearance of a crease.

Talk about pre-emptive strikes.

More bizarre, if you're not well-heeled enough to afford cosmetic work, Uncle Sam might be willing to pay for it.

Military doctors, under the rationale that they need to stay in practice, have performed hundreds of free facelifts, breast enlargements, nose remodelings and liposuctions on service personnel since 2000, New Yorker magazine reports.

If any of that work actually helps military surgeons reconstruct the bodies of wounded troops, then so be it.

But doesn't it seem like there's some weird connection between military and medical strategies going on here?

Maybe someone who hasn't had their dots surgically removed yet can connect them for us.

Clifford is a freelance writer for the Daily Press.

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