Reality TV linked to plastic surgery

Last updated 05:00 15/03/2010

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Reality television shows could be leading young people to have cosmetic surgery.

Researchers have studied the attitudes of two groups of US viewers with an average age about 20: one group watched a home renovation show and the other an "extreme makeover" program.

Charlotte Markey of Rutgers University in New Jersey and Patrick Markey of Villanova University in Pennsylvania found those who watched the cosmetic surgery show wanted to alter their own appearance more than the others.

Those who had favourable impressions of reality TV shows featuring cosmetic surgery were also more likely to have an interest in pursuing surgery, according to results published online in the journal Body Image.

Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery chief executive John Flynn agreed that reality TV made people more likely to consider surgery for themselves but such shows were regarded as a double-edged sword for his industry.

"On the good side of this, they do show patients what is able to be done," he said.

"Where the college does have some concerns, though, is that after looking at these reality shows, they may get a false expectation of what can be achieved."

Dr Flynn is also concerned at the trend for programs to show patients receiving multiple procedures at the one time.

"The more procedures you have done, the greater the risk for your body and the more your body has to do to cope with its injuries," he said.

Lily O'Hara, an expert in body image at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, said the programs affected people with poor esteem as they influenced them to think the treatments would improve the way they look, and therefore help them lead a happier life.

"Unfortunately, the evidence shows that this is not necessarily true and in many cases the poor body image continues even after treatment," she said.

Dr O'Hara said it was important parents discussed body image with their children and encouraged them to look at the way the media influenced their ideas and feelings.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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