11 Points

11 Most Bizarre Cosmetic Procedures People Actually Pay For
written by Sam Greenspan

There's a scene that takes place in the 2015 segment of Back to the Future Part II where Doc pulls something called an aging mask off his face and says, "I went to a rejuvenation clinic and got an all-natural overhaul. They took out some wrinkles, did a hair repair, a change of blood." That's one of at least three references to ubiquitous plastic surgery in the movie. I put all of them in my list a few years ago of 11 Predictions That Back to the Future Part II Got Right... but they got it even righter (?) than they realized.

Cosmetic surgery isn't only peaking in popularity this decade -- it's bounding as far as the human imagination can take it.

This list isn't about breast augmentations, calf/butt/pec implants, botox or even vaginal rejuvenation. Everyone knows about those. This list is focusing on the cosmetic procedures and plastic surgeries that take it way further, into the realm of, "What kind of stone cold lunatic dreamed this up?"

Here are 11 totally bizarre and often insane cosmetic procedures that someone actually thought up, some doctors are actually willing to do, and some people are actually eager to pay for.

  1. Ball ironing.
    Scrotum ironing. For around $600, there's a non-surgical treatment that uses lasers (perhaps magic lasers?) to remove hair, reduce wrinkles, and fix discoloration and splotches on the testicles. Sounds great. I mean, for a very reasonable price, men can have their testicles completely rejuvenated to look like... I'm not sure. The testicles of a 20-year-old? Is it like a hair salon where you flip through a book, pick a style you like, and say, "Make me look like this"?

  2. Palm reading hand line etching. When you have your palm read by a gypsy or faux-gypsy, the point isn't to beat the system. If you genuinely believe that the lines on your palm dictate and predict your future, wouldn't you also believe your lines are inexorably tied to your fate? Apparently not. There's a relatively new phenomenon in Japan where people are having cosmetic surgeons etch new lines in their hands... so they get better results at the palm reader. No word if anyone there is developing remote controlled tea leaves or a system for tarot card counting.

  3. Rectal bleaching. Over time, it turns out, one's anus transitions from bright, fresh, and flesh colored to dark, weathered, and not-so-flesh colored. Since no one ever looks at my anus, I don't have any insecurity or vanity regarding its aesthetic qualities. Some are not so lucky, though, and regularly have people gazing at their anuses. If you're one of those, there are now several places that will provide bleaching services for you. Warning: When you look up "anal bleaching" on Wikipedia, you're immediately face-to-face with a very vivid photo of the "after" look at the process.


  4. The tongue patch.
    Tongue patching. If you can handle unbearable agony, a month without talking and the possibility of causing permanent damage to your tongue -- hey, you might lose a very quick 30 pounds. A surgeon in Beverly Hills created a procedure where he sews a postage stamp-sized patch of plastic on your tongue to help you hemorrhage weight. The patch is so painful it becomes impossible to eat. You only drink liquids for a month and, assuming you opt for raw vegetable juices and water instead of milkshakes and pina coladas, it's impossible not to lose massive amounts of weight. It's not FDA-approved, has high risk of complications, burns muscle as well as fat and costs at least $2,000. Doesn't it seem like it would just be easier to just commit to eating salads for four weeks?

  5. Belly button inverting. You can go from an innie to an outie or an outie to an innie. Which is more popular? An estimated 90 percent of people have innies, so there are far more potential innie-to-outie patients than vice versa. But maybe the outie people are more insecure because of their belly button minority status? I don't know. This is one of those debates I'd have with two or three friends if we were really, really, really, really bored between beers four and five. Then we'd frantically search for something else to talk about before everyone immediately retreated into their phones.

  6. Nipple darkening. I have no idea why anyone would be bothered by light colored areolas. Or dark colored ones. Really, anything areola-related. There isn't such a thing as bad areolas. But some people dislike their general nipple coloring enough to get special tattoos to darken the color. It sounds like it's incredibly painful -- and just might have the worst ratio of horrifying pain to self-esteem boost of anything on this list.

  7. Re-virginizing. There's a procedure called hymenorrhaphy where a surgeon reconstructs a woman's hymen. It doesn't really make you a virgin again -- that would take a time machine and a heart-to-heart with your younger self down about the insidious alcohol content of wine coolers -- but it's somewhat symbolic. It costs $2,500, which immediately is flushed away as soon as you have sex or go horseback riding.


  8. Sex symbol.
    Ear pointing. There are plenty of pop/nerd culture icons with pointed ears: Elves, Vulcans, werewolves, Avatar blue things, Zelda characters, pretty much everyone in Middle Earth, Peter Pan, the Taco Bell chihuahua. So it was inevitable that people would want to get their ears pointified to match those characters. (Or, at least, all of those characters excepting the chihuahua.) It's apparently irreversible, but fortunately your love of elves will never go away, so you're cool.

  9. Ab etching. You have to have extremely low body fat for your abs to show. So why not skip all that and just have a six pack carved into your fat? This is essentially the surgical equivalent of taking a magic marker and drawing six ovals on your stomach. Surgeons whittle bits of fat away to give you the look and texture of a six pack without the actual six-pack muscles. Since abs are the new ultimate male sex status symbol, this is the 2013 equivalent of stuffing a sock down your pants.

  10. Penile reductions. What an incredibly cocky surgery to get. Although it establishes a lovely paradox, since announcing you need to have a smaller penis makes you a much bigger one. HI-YO!

  11. Snaggle toothening. This is another Japanese innovation. They are so ahead of the game, as usual. They are to plastic surgery today what they were to electronics in the 1980s and deviant pornography in the 2000s. Women pay thousands to have their perfectly straight teeth altered so a few snaggle out. One article says that's a popular look because it provides "impish cuteness." If only my parents and I had known about this before my Decade of Braces. We could've saved the money and preserved my impish cuteness. But my orthodontist would only have three houses instead of his current seven, so I guess that's a downside.


This post was originally published on Friday, July 19, 2013 at 11:00:00 AM under the category Personal.

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