In Hollywood, California there has been talk of eating disorders and plastic
surgery and how they affect people. The science of eating disorders and plastic surgery is
important to look at and research. People need to see the reality behind celebrity eating
disorders and cosmetic surgery. The media plays a big part in showing which celebrities
has eating disorders or has had cosmetic surgery. The media skews the reality of the
situations of the celebrities. There are eating disorders that are hurtful to the body and
cosmetic surgeries that have devastating side effects. The media does not show what the
side effects are. This paper will be talking about what the side effects are in eating
disorders and cosmetic surgeries.
Research on Eating Disorders:
There are three main eating disorder types. According to Palme, (2008) the three
main eating disorders are Bulimia Nervosa, Anorexia Nervosa and Binge Eating. People
can also suffer from Partial Syndrome, (Palme 2008) which is a combination of the three
eating disorders. Palme describes Bulimia Nervosa as a person eating a lot and quickly
eating and then follows the eating with “vomiting, fasting, exercise, laxatives or medicine
in order to avoid an increase in weight” (2008). He describes Anorexia Nervosa as not
eating enough food to have a normal weight and the person is afraid to be fat and has
incorrect views on their weight (2008). He describes Binge Eating as eating too much
There are many aspects that can cause eating disorders. According to Walsh and
Devlin (1998) cultural factors can contribute to the development of an eating disorder.
Anorexia Nervosa can be caused from young people being obsessed about their body
image and the disorder has been around for over 300 years (Walsh, Devlin 1998).
Bulimia Nervosa has been recently acknowledged as an eating disorder and is from the
same obsession of body image especially in weight gain and loss (Walsh, Devlin 1998).
Eating disorders in celebrities can be hurtful to the youth that look up to them, especially
if they think that a celebrity is struggling with an eating disorder. The youth may be
more inclined to think that it is a good idea, when in reality it is harmful to the body.
Eating disorders are harmful and are caused from the people’s image of the way their
body should look.
There has been some research that indicates some biological and genetic factors in
acquiring an eating disorder. According to Kaye, (1999) eating disorder patients have
new ways to combat their eating disorders through new medications that modify
serotonin activity to help people fight their eating disorders. Although, it has been more
helpful for people with Bulimia Nervosa than people with Anorexia Nervosa because
people with Anorexia Nervosa are usually underweight and it confuses the body, when it
is underweight (Kaye 1999). According to Kaye, (1999) there are genetic factors that can
either benefit or deter having an eating disorder because of a twin study that was done
that showed a correlation to heredity in eating disorders. Krom, Bauer, Collier, Adan and
Fleur looked at that same twin study and found a connection to eating disorders and
genetic function of “meal size, frequency, satiation and hunger, and taste preference” (pp.
286, 2009). There have been animal studies that show the connection of Anorexia
Nervosa and body hair growth as being a side effect (Krom, Bauer, Collier, Adan and
Fleur 2009). Genetics are connected to eating disorders as discussed above.
There are physical side effects of eating disorders other than the obvious of losing
weight. According to Mortimer, “cardiac complications are the most common side
effects of eating disorders” (2007). Eating disorders can cause Arrhythmia is an irregular
heartbeat (Mortimer 2007). People with Anorexia Nervosa can acquire bradycardia, a
state where the heart does not beat fast enough (Mortimer 2007). Heart failure and liver
failure cause the most deaths of people who suffer Anorexia Nervosa (Mortimer 2007).
People who suffer from Bulimia Nervosa can have electrolyte disorders and imbalances
(Mortimer 2007). Electrolyte imbalances can develop into “fuzzy” thinking, organ
failure, and arrhythmia. Laxatives can give people who suffer from Bulimia Nervosa
colon problems (Mortimer 2007). Binge eating can lead to obesity with in turn can lead
to Type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and sleep apnea (Mortimer 2007). Overall
eating disorders cause serious damage to the body.
According to customizedgirl.com, (2008) at least 15 celebrities suffer from eating
disorders. The media makes a huge impact on how people perceive themselves. The 15
celebrities who suffer from eating disorders are Nicole Richie, Felicity Huffman, Tracy
Gold, Allegra Versace, Fiona Apple, Katharine McPhee, Mary Kate Olsen, Paula Abdul,
Princess Diana, Oprah Winfrey, Karen Carpenter, Wynonna Judd, Sharon Osbourne,
Lara Flynn Boyle and Victoria Beckham. There are more celebrities that suffer from
eating disorders but do not talk about it.
Research on Cosmetic Surgery:
There are two particular cosmetic surgeries that are interesting to discuss: breast
augmentation and liposuction. Breast augmentation is a very common surgery in
Hollywood, although majority of celebrities are probably not informed in the long-term
effects of breast augmentation. According to Berkel, Filius, Dik and De Boer, there is a
correlation between implants and the risk of cancer in patients who have had breast
augmentation (1994). These researchers have studied some studies on animal and human
experiments in regards with implants and its connection to cancer. These authors have
found more connection to silicone being injected into the breast as being more dangerous
(1994). The person who has had breast augmentation is likely to acquire cancer later in
life (Berkel, Filius, Dik and De Boer 1994). Berkel, Filius, Dik and De Boer did notice a
delay in diagnosis of breast cancer in patients who have had breast augmentation (1994).
These authors also found a correlation between implants and connective tissue disorders
(1994). Breast augmentation is a procedure that can have hurtful effects but also can be
aesthetically pleasing to people.
Liposuction can have major side effects. Liposuction removes fat from areas
around the body. According to healthsearchonline.com, after liposuction surgery one
may experience “localized swelling, bruising, pain, minimal scarring and numbness in the
treated area” (2009). On the other hand, these side effects go away after a few week after
the operation. According to healthsearchonline.com, during the procedure one could
have an “allergic anesthetic reaction, infection, fluid imbalance, skin necrosis or death,
damage to internal organs and burns” (2009). Liposuction is not for everyone. It can be
dangerous but the gains of less fat can be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Cosmetic
surgery can be dangerous but it is a risk some people are willing to take.
Eating disorders and cosmetic surgery are seen all over Hollywood and in
celebrities. It is important to understand what the risks are before going through cosmetic
surgery. It is also important to understand the effects of eating disorders and how to
combat them so the youth does not acquire them. Eating disorders are dangerous and
cosmetic surgeries can be, too.
1. Berkel, J., Filius, P.M.G., Dik, E., and Boer, A.D. (1994). Long term heath effects of
breast augmentation: A review. Pharmacoepidemiology Drug Safety. 3(5): 265-273.
2. Devlin, M.J. and Walsh, T. (1998). Eating disorders: Progress and problems. Science,
580(5368), 1387-1390. doi:10.1126/science.280.5368.1387
3. Kaye, W.H. (1999). The New biology of anorexia and bulimia nervosa: Implications
for advances in treatment. European Eating Disorders Review. 7: 157-161.
4. Krom, M.D., Bauer, F., Collier, D., Adan, R.A.H., and Fleur, S.E.L. (2009, April 16).
Genetic variation and effects on human eating behavior. Annual Review of Nutrition, 29,
5. Mortimer, N. (2007, March 8). The Physical side effects of eating disorders. Retrieved
November 4, 2009, from Mount Holyoke News website:
6. Palme, G. (2008, August 15). Different kinds/types of eating disorders. Retrieved
November 4, 2009, from Web Health Info website: http://web4health.info/en/answers/ed-
7. 15 Celebrity eating disorders that make you want to vomit. (2008, April 7). Retrieved
November 3, 2009, from CustomizedGirl Blog website:
8. Liposuction- side effects after the procedure. (2009). Retrieved November 3, 2009,
from Health Search Online website: http://www.healthsearchonline.com/liposuction-side-