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Body modification and adornment is a universal culture. All civilizations have attempted to change their body in order to fulfil their cultural construct of beauty, religious and/or social obligations. Many activities in society involve intentionally harming one’s own body, such as tattoos, piercings, and cosmetic surgery. These are seen as acceptable ways to cope with feelings, and express emotions. If a woman is unhappy with her body, and wants bigger breasts, she can go to a doctor and have the operation done.

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Many other types of cosmetic surgeries are on the rise as well: liposuction, silicone implants in the lips and buttocks, and face lifts. All of these are only short- term solutions to a woman’s unhappiness with their appearance. They feel a sense of failure in not living up to the male-dominated cultures ideas of perfection. Last year, psychologists used computer generated composite images of about 60 different photographs of faces.

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They created the “average composite” from the most attractive faces and an “enhanced composite” with exaggerated features – bigger eyes and lips, higher cheekbones in the female group. The enhanced images were perceived to be the most desirable. Tattoos is more visible and difficult to hide may be less socially acceptable and more likely to represent resistance and individually. In contrast, another type of body modification and cosmetic surgery such as plastic surgery, Botox, Lasik and cosmetic dentistry are more acceptable in society.

But how does the funding of these modifications reflect our attitudes and values towards them? To qualify for surgery on the NHS specific criteria must be met; this is usually set out by your local health authority. The NHS does not pay for surgery if the reasons are cosmetic alone, but will fund you if the surgery is to correct, or improve, congenital abnormalities and injuries. Before a person will be eligible for surgery free of charge they will usually have to be referred by their GP and endure a consultation with a psychologist or psychiatrist.

This basically gives the GP’s, who do vary in different places, the power to decide if a person should be able to go on to the next step in the process of receiving surgery funded by the NHS. It is possible to have breast implants via the NHS, but only for a certain few where it is seen to be essential. On April the 26th a girl of just 17 received a ‘boob job’ on the NHS to help deal with the stress and pressure of having small breasts. It cost the NHS over i?? 4,000 to carry out the procedure which wouldn’t usually be done on a person under the age of 18 as her body hasn’t finished developing.

“It is worryingly easy to get a free boob job at an age when you might not be ready for it,” News of the World quoted her as saying. A spokeswoman, Susie Squire said “The NHS is struggling to provide basic and life-saving surgery”. This comment suggests that the attitude towards the NHS funding cosmetic body modifications is quite negative and not socially accepted. Another comment also demonstrated this attitude “Cancer drugs should always come above boob jobs. Some serious questions need to be asked about the spending priorities of this NHS trust”.

While other feel that much of so-called cosmetic surgery, for example the correction of gross nasal deformity, protruding ears or major breast hypertrophy, can enormously improve the patient’s quality of life and should be available under the National Health Service. As liposuction is usually a cosmetic procedure (used to improve your appearance) it is not normally available on the NHS. The Daily Mirror has reported on one young woman of 24 who has spent  23,000 on plastic surgery and, apparently, she has no intention of stopping now.

Chloe Loughlin is a beauty therapist has had two boob-jobs, lots of liposuction and Botox amongst other procedures. From The Independent on Sunday, November 19, 2006 it was reported that children who are dangerously obese and stand a high risk of developing cancer, diabetes or heart conditions, will be entitled to stomach-stapling surgery on the NHS, according to The Observer, this surgery is cost-effective, if after surgery, over time, patients will learn to eat sensibly.

The health service has spent 5.7million in the past year on giving 471 patients the procedure of liposuction and more than 1,600 patient’s nose jobs, tummy tucks and breast reductions, NHS Information Centre figures show. 471 people having body fat removed costs the NHS about i?? 1,500 based on an estimate of private operations. A nose job costs the NHS  3,000 each procedure, a tummy tuck or breast reduction would cost the NHS about  3,800 per procedure. Figures may look high but there are strict guidelines. The question is, how are these guidelines made and where is the line drawn.

When deciding if a person is entitled to a nose job on the NHS there is a basis on which the decision is made which involves the nose being measured to determine if it is in proportion with the face. Breast reduction can also be decided in this way, by measuring the body and asking is it in proportion or should surgery be used, long term effects would also be looked at. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) says that surgery should be offered surgery on the NHS for people who are morbidly obese.

This is a technical term for people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more. BMI is a calculation which compares a person’s weight with their height. A BMI of 20-25 is considered healthy and NICE has recommended that surgery should be an option for adults who have received intensive management in a specialised hospital obesity clinic and who have failed to respond to all other forms of treatment. It is expected to cost the NHS an extra i?? 21m over the next eight years.

Bibliography http://www.independent.co.uk

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