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When Surgery and Body Arts Go Wrong

Updated on February 20, 2013
Tattooed wrestler Roshi Ensei, by Kuniyoshi, Utagawa (1798 - 1861)[Photos on this page, public domain]
Tattooed wrestler Roshi Ensei, by Kuniyoshi, Utagawa (1798 - 1861)[Photos on this page, public domain] | Source

Attitudes and Events

People in general have differing views of the importance or acceptability of plastic surgery and cosmetic dentistry. Some think that these disciplines are useful, desirable, and even mandatory in several instances; while others conceive them as frivolous, dangerous, and ludicrously expensive – some, even as sinful.

I think closer to the truth is the notion that these procedures can be very useful, but that some patient-clients using them can become addicted to acquiring increasingly more numerous procedures. I think that happens with certain individuals that acquire a large number of tattoos and piercings as well, but certainly not all or even the majority of these folks. After watching The Swan, Miami Ink, and other makeover and Tattooing shows, I stand in awe of the effort put forth and ordeal experienced by their clients. Further, I am astonished with the life-changing results enjoyed by several participants (not all) on TV's The Swan, and with the depth loving tribute infused into gaining a special tattoo to commemorate a loved one.

Invasive Procedures

Piercing is a matter for me. At age 16, a classmate in high school walked down the corridor in school with new pierced, hoop earrings. A treacherous male student reached out as she passed by and ripped them simultaneously out of her ears, cutting the earlobes clear through. As he accomplished this premeditated event, he laughed while she bled. I fault the school administration in part for this, because of the tortuous, humane, abusive, false “sex education” class they had forced upon us – the opposite sex (either one) was patently evil and deserved any maltreatment they received. [Read about that disaster at How to Ruin Youth with Bad Education.].

So, piercings are not something good for me, but they are great for some other people. I did know a girl that lost ½ of her tongue because of a piercing infection, but that is rarity when professionals perform piercings. This is similar to the results obtained from a non-professional acupuncturist in our town that was spreading infections through his work – it's it neither licensed nor regulated in this state. My point is that cleints need to carefully choose a professional for any of these procedures.

The latter decorative procedures are surgeries of a kind as well and standard safety measures make these procedures very much safer in comparison with some performed in slapdash manner in the past.

Any and all surgical and surgery-related clients should have the assurance that they will have as high-quality a result as can be delivered by the professionals performing the procedures and that is my topic for today:

When Perfection Goes Wrong

Another facet of all of these more-invasive and less-invasive types of procedures is that some customers of cosmetic surgery and dentistry, tattooing and piercing, can experience the same endorphine increase as do “cutters” - finally, they can feel something, or they feel better than at other times.

Hopefully, professionals and clients work together to prevent or remediate addictions and unwise choices in physical procedures.

When this does not occur...

A Perfect Nuisance of Dental Havoc

A friend of mine that I will call Lizbeth never had any dental problems growing up – not even braces. After college, though, she'd discovered that her bite had been uneven and that this was the reason that two teeth cracked and suddenly died without her realizing it and fell out of her mouth. There had never been any pain associated with these teeth.

In graduate school, she went to the dental clinic and was assigned an advanced dental student that had graduated with a DDS and was studying advanced prosthodontics. He also worked at a friend's dental office on weekends and saw Liz there to fashion two high-quality bridges to repair the case of the missing teeth. Unfortunately as it turned out, he was not working under the auspices of the dental school and botched the job pretty badly over the course of six months, which seemed a long time to me. He cancelled appointments to go on dates with other patients, leaving Liz with temporary bridges that were broken. She went to the clinic and found he was not working under their supervision, although he really did possess a DDS.

She prepared legal action against the man and received the rest of her realted dental work in good time. However, the permanent bridges – glued on with the glue that holds the protective tiles on the US Space Shuttles – moved and caused significant pain.

In summation, Liz visited the dental board and received brand new replacement work – and a few now-needed root canals - from an experienced professional at no cost.


Cosmetic Surgery

A Perfect Storm of Head to Toe Havoc

I accompanied Liz on two of her original weekend appointments with the clinic student, because she did not want to drive. Going into the building, we met a happy-looking, friendly woman leaving. She was pleased with her mouthful of “Hollywood crowns”, she told us. Indeed, they looked beautiful. Her husband had asked her to have every one of her teeth capped, and she did. The next time we encountered her leaving the office, she was not looking as happy. In fact, she broke down briefly in the lobby...

The woman and her husband were in their late 30s. In the last two years, he had asked her to have a couple of minor cosmetic surgeries performed, but had escalated his requests into never-ending demands. She had been afraid to refuse him in fear that he would leave her for a younger woman.

It began with an eyebrow lift, a lid lift, and procedures to relieve fine lines and wrinkles. Then some other facial procedures were completed. Next came decreasing the waistline and the thighs. Then came breast implants, followed by reshaping the buttocks. Next, the calves of her legs were changed, followed by the ankles.

The final procedures to be accomplished were the placement of caps on each of her teeth. The Sunday night after the afternoon in which she had had the final group of crowns set in, this wife's husband left her to live with a 19-year-old woman. He had decided that he required a natural beauty without the marks of incisions and artificial parts, or so he told her. She was first sad, but then became somewhat angry. She had been shocked by her loss, but was happy with her appearance and great new teeth.

We never learned why the clinic dentist told Liz to “not tell anyone” that he was practicing on the weekends with his own cases. He may have been hiding income from the IRS or from the school, which may have awarded him educational funding based on income; but we never found out. We did learn that dentists as a group experience a comparatively high rate of alcohol and substance abuse and suicide and the student had been engaged to a cocaine addict.

Suicide is almost understandable for some dental students. One young man in his final semester was required to complete a set of dentures (with gold) for a clinic patient (same clinic as above). Tired after a number of 12- and 14-hour work days and final exams, he inadvertently forgot to lock up the finished dentures one night, they were stolen, and he did not graduate. Neither did he commit suicide, but it was a possibility.

None of the above are even the worst events that results in cosmetic and dental surgeries, but they are the ones I know first hand. Cable TV programs often present others.

An Almost Perfect Answer

US healthcare needs some reform, right down to some of the tortuous training requirements, financial costs, and various pressures required of practitioners. At the same time, clients and patients can check out the professionals they wish to patronize by contacting state medical and dental boards and referral services.

A cosmetic face lift or a tattoo can be as edifying for some as dentures or the repair of cleft palates and mastectomy-related breast reconstructions are for others. While associated risks are involved for all of these, clients and professionals in good conscience can work together for the best possible results.

Comments & Stories

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Yes, that's right. Oh! - I recall a friend's story - one of HER older friend had an abdomenal procure done without her husband knowing about it. She got stuck in an armchair and could not get up for the pain and could not get to the phone. Luckily our friend showed up and got her out of the chair. She gave up on plastic surgery after that.

    • Army Infantry Mom profile image

      Army Infantry Mom 

      10 years ago

      Nice hub,...A lot of intresting stories. If any man asked me to go get surgery to enhance something of mine, red flags would be waving thats for sure.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Hi OM - thanks for your comments; this type of surgery can sometimes be too risky for some folks to enhance their appearance. Can't stop them, though, can we?

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      10 years ago

      Interesting hub! I'm not against tattoos or piercing, but I think unnecessary cosmetic surgeries are ridiculous. My friend just got breast implants. Her old breasts were fine and not small at all. Now they just look waaayyyy too big for her little body.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @elayne001 - I'm so sorry about your ears. I think I would rather have them cut off than pierced - but then, I'm just clumsy with jewelry in that it catches on everything.

      @creativeone - thanks for reading!

      @Larry - so may stories, so little time! I'm sorry for your dental problems as well.

    • maven101 profile image


      10 years ago from Northern Arizona

      I'm amazed how you can take a rather mundane subject and interweave it with anecdotal filler that brings out a vibrant and interesting read...I can relate to Liz with a very painful and incompetent dental surgery I had in the service years ago...still having problems with it to this day...Thanks for such a well written Hub...Larry

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      10 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Very informatve hub, thanks for sharing. creativeone59

    • elayne001 profile image


      10 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      I enjoyed your article. I had a friend pierce my ears in high school because I didn't have the money to do it professionally. She took a piece of ice to numb the earlobe and put a piece of soap behind and a big needle that was sterilized over the stove. Since that day I have suffered from earlobe infections. I cannot wear any cheap jewelry (ironic isn't it) and so I have to wear real gold or silver to avoid infections. A lot of misery and pain because I didn't go about it the right way. It was a peer pressure thing at the time since all the girls were doing it.


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