Plastic surgery is practically a rite of passage for our friends in South Korea, where everything from eyelid surgery to chin-shaving is affordable and fair game. In the U.S., it's a slightly different story, but anyone with deep insecurities and deep pocketbooks can easily go under the knife — or the laser, or the liposuction vacuum — to chase perfection in the mirror. And in recent years, plastic surgery has expanded beyond the traditional nose job or face lift. Here are four of the more questionable and painful-sounding plastic surgery "trends" of recent memory:
1. Arms like Michelle Obama
The first lady has put a spotlight on toned triceps, and a new report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons claims that more and more Americans are opting for a strange procedure called an upper arm-lift. In 2012, more than 15,000 patients (98 percent women) spent a mind-blowing $61 million to have the fat from their arms liposuctioned. The Los Angeles Times notes that the procedure — termed a brachioplasty — "involves making an incision from the armpit to the elbow, usually along the back of the arm, to remove excess skin." In other words, it's the perfect quick-fix if you're religiously opposed to dumbbells, cardio, and eating a healthy diet.
2. Artificial limb-lengthening
Who doesn't dream of being taller? That's why a few masochists — mostly men — are going to extreme, painful lengths to add two to three precious inches to their frames. The grotesque procedure requires a doctor to break a patient's shin bone and insert a telescoping rod. The rod pulls the bone apart gradually — about 1 millimeter a day for three months straight. This adds height to the legs while bone, nerves, arteries, and potentially infectious bacteria slowly fill in the gaps. One man, who went from 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-9, described the excruciating ordeal as "the worst decision I made in my life." All yours for $85,000 and at least six months of immobility.
If buff arms and long legs aren't your thing, how about a more pronounced jawline? In 2011, the ASPS claimed that the procedure du jour was something called a "chinplant," the popularity of which skyrocketed by 71 percent from the previous year for reasons science will never quite figure out. For $2,000 to $5,000, surgeons will take a scalpel to your lower lip or chin, and insert an implant into the soft tissue to create a more authoritative jaw. While it probably won't make you the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, the thinking goes that at least you'll kind of look like one from your neck to your lower lip.
Summer's almost here, which means it's time to dig out the flip-flops. And if you consider your toes fat, ugly, or otherwise imperfect, please don't be one of the hundreds of Americans who are opting to have their little piggies shaped to a more eye-pleasing standard. The procedure has introduced the plastic-surgery term to end all terms — "toe-besity" — which, let's be real, might just be the stupidest reason to get plastic surgery, ever. While getting rid of something as uncomfortable as a hammertoe is perfectly understandable, electing to have $2,500 toe surgery purely for vanity's sake deserves nothing but contempt.