By Tiffanie Reynolds firstname.lastname@example.org
Just by looking at her, it’s hard to tell that Shannon Aument was in a life-threatening car accident.
On April 22, 2006, Aument slammed her head against the back of the passenger’s seat, disfiguring her face. After stitches, doctors used plastic surgery to rebuild her nose. The procedure took two years, but the results left her looking almost exactly as she did before the accident.
The Flagler College junior is one of many that use plastic surgery to get back what accidents or illnesses took away from their appearance. The experience completely changed Aument’s opinion about plastic surgery.
“Now I’m looking at it like, wow, these people really help that self-conscious half of the world who get into these horrible accidents and look so disfigured, really come out feeling top-notch,” she said.
To many Americans, plastic surgery is only seen and used as a quick fix to their appearance. The number of plastic surgeries has steadily increased since 2000, with breast augmentation and nose reshaping as the most popular, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
“I think it’s become more acceptable. People are more willing to talk about it then they did twenty to thirty years ago,” said Dr. Cayce Rumsey, founder of Ponte Vedra Plastic Surgery in St. Augustine.
Even with shows like Extreme Makeover and Nip/Tuck making the practice more popular, plastic surgeries don’t give the immediate, clean results that people see. A common condition after plastic surgery is post-operative depression, where patients feel vulnerable due to the side-effects of anesthesia and the appearance of scars around the area of surgery. Aument is no exception.
“I was so miserable my sophomore and senior years because I had these huge, red scars on my face,” Aument said.
She spent most of her high school years at home because she was embarrassed about how she looked. Her greatest support was her friends, who stayed with her after her surgeries and encouraged her to go back to school.
It wasn’t until her junior year in high school that she went through dermabrasion, a surgical procedure that rubs away the upper layers of skin so new skin can grow back. It took three sessions over the course of a year, and by the end her scars were completely removed.
The experience helped her accept her body image. Now she carries herself with confidence, and it shows with everyone she talks to.
“I’m really good with people now who have disfigurements because I remember how self-conscious I felt. I can imagine how they would feel.”