Permanent consequences of temporary trends

Sam Wendorf, Staff Writer

The internet is no stranger to trends in appearance and body modification. The ideal body shape changes every decade, piercings and tattoos are more acceptable now than they ever have been before, and freedom in self-expression continues to grow. While these changes happened gradually in the days before the internet and social media were mainstream, a fad can now take over in the span of a few months or even weeks if it goes viral.

While most style choices can be easily left behind when they fall out of fashion, like hair dye or minor piercings, some take body modification to the next level. Teenagers and young adults are seeking cosmetic surgery in record numbers, some as young as 13 years old. While this may seem like a good idea now when these procedures are popular, many young people lack the foresight and life experience to understand just what permanence means. When social media moves on, they will be left to deal with the consequences of their body modification for the rest of their lives. Some of these consequences may be as minor as occasional discomfort or a body shape that is no longer seen as the ideal, while others can be debilitating or even fatal.

Two especially harmful procedures that have grown in popularity with those who do not research the risks of getting them done are the Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL), which takes fat from elsewhere in the body and injects it into the buttocks, and the BrightOcular iris implants, which inserts a colored disc in front of the iris to change the color of the eyes.

BrightOcular implants may seem safe enough at first glance. It is an implanted, incredibly thin and soft silicon disc that covers the iris so the eye appears to be a different color. This disc may be removed in another procedure, so it is technically reversible; however, the damage these implants can cause will never be undone. The iris is a fragile muscle, and the silicon discs rub against it every time the eye moves, slowly wearing it away. At first, this may not seem noticeable, but over time it will rupture the iris, destroy the pupil and blind the victim. Even if this does not happen, it can cause other long-term vision defects that will reduce or eliminate visibility. What seemed at first like an easy way to change one’s eye color can cause an irreversible disability and derail the course of an entire life. 

The BBL’s implications are worse. It aims to increase the size of the buttocks by taking fat from other parts of the body where it may not be wanted. Many consider this a better alternative to synthetic implants, as it is all-natural and the body should not reject the injection; however, it is more dangerous by far than any other butt-enhancing surgery. When injecting the fat, surgeons must be very careful not to go too deep into the tissue, as there are relatively large arteries located throughout the rear that lead directly back to the heart. If any fat is injected into the bloodstream, it will return to the heart and kill the patient. Unfortunately, many cosmetic surgeons are not careful. This complication happens in as many as one in every 3,000 patients, making it the most fatally dangerous cosmetic surgery that can be done in the modern day. About 3% of all cosmetic surgeons who have performed this surgery have had a patient die this way. Having a bigger butt is not worth this insane death toll.

These procedures are dangerous enough that the risks should stop any potential victim in their tracks; however, many of the people who seek these procedures simply do not look into these risks. It is popular and sounds good on paper, and famous people are getting them done with stunning results. For many, this is good enough. But permanently altering the body should never be taken lightly, and it should not be an acceptable trend.

Some body mods are perfectly fine and can make a person feel amazing in their own skin. Tattoos, hair dye and piercings can be excellent forms of self-expression. But this is where it should stop. Needles and pigment should be the only tools we need. Risking our lives to make our bodies fit the standard is not and should never be okay.