Plastic surgeons slam TV makeovers

Last updated at 10:49 12 May 2004

Plastic surgeons in Britain have criticised television's "dangerous" new craze of putting members of the public under the knife, often to make them look like celebrities.

In the latest reality TV fad, American twins have undergone surgery to look like actor Brad Pitt, while another man underwent a sex change and buttock surgery to look like pop diva J-Lo.

"The growing trend in cosmetic surgery reality shows, such as MTV's 'I Want a Famous Face,' sends a dangerous message," the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) said on Tuesday.

"They prey on the vulnerabilities of a society increasingly obsessed with physical perfection," it added.

In I Want a Famous Face, Arizona twins Mike and Matt Schlepp paid a small fortune for nose jobs, chin implants and porcelain dental veneers to look like Hollywood hunk Pitt, who later said he felt sorry for them.

Michael J Tito, 23, underwent hormone therapy and two months of painful surgery, including buttock implants, in a desperate bid to look like his heroine Lopez.

Emotional damage

"This is very far from being just a bit of fun," said Douglas McGeorge of BAAPS, the main professional body for Britain's aesthetic surgeons.

"There can be emotional damage and often these patients need counselling. And no matter what they look like, they will never have the personality of the celebrity."

BAAPS also singled out "Extreme Makeover" on ABC television in the United States and the upcoming "Cosmetic Surgery Live" on Britain's Channel Five, which denied its show would glamorise the process.

"Anyone watching this is going to have an unprecedented insight into what plastic surgery involves and what the consequences are from both a scientific and human perspective," said a Channel Five spokesman.

BAAPS McGeorge highlighted the physical risks of extreme cosmetic surgery. "You only have to look at Michael Jackson to see what happens when you push the envelope," he said.

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