Under the knife, into debt

Plastic surgery loans democratize "vanity medicine."

Topics: Broadsheet, Elective Surgery, Love and Sex,

Nowadays, plastic surgery is a lot like the American dream: Hard work, a willingness to go into substantial debt and forgoing things like health insurance are all it takes to obtain it! The New York Times reports today that “vanity medicine” has been democratized — meaning, it’s no longer “the province of the rich and celebrated who would pay cash or write a check up front.” It has become “a coveted yet attainable luxury purchase” thanks to credit cards and financing companies, some of which specialize in plastic surgery loans, reports the Times.

Doctors report that strapped-for-cash patients are willing to go even beyond taking on hefty loans — some opt out of health insurance to make financing their surgery easier. “I have some 23-year-old women who are getting breast implants who think they are young and healthy and don’t need health insurance,” said Dr. David P. Rapaport.



Unwilling to take on years of debt or go uninsured? As I just learned from Yahoo! News (via I Blame the Patriarchy), there’s an alternative for those seeking breast implants: MyFreeImplants.com. The word “free” is used loosely, though: Women desiring implants create personal profiles and post photos of themselves. Site visitors then pay to view profiles and send girls messages. Some women auction off their underwear; others exchange X-rated photos for a monetary donation. The site’s creator has made sure that the sponsors aren’t swindled — that they get the implants they’ve paid for — by giving donations directly to the plastic surgeon, rather than the patient.

And, finally, in other breast implant news: An Australian men’s magazine is being investigated after it offered a contest prize of “a boob job for your girlfriend.” It turns out it’s illegal for Aussies to offer cosmetic surgery as an award.

Perhaps one day, all countries of the world will share in this great, American democracy, in which cosmetic surgery knows nothing of class limits and strangers on the Internet can sponsor your new breasts.

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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