Strange Surgeries from Around the Globe

From Face/Off to South Park to Nip/Tuck, some of the most seemingly far fetched procedures of television and film are actually being undertaken in various clinics across the globe. The following cosmetic or experimental procedures run the gamut from the shocking to the just plain absurd.

Becoming a "Music Faun" - New York, United States

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Dr. Lajos Nagy asks the important question "Do rounded ears mean an evolutionary impasse?" Not if science has anything to say about it they don’t. With a "one-day-surgery, mostly under local anesthesia" the upper earlobe is reshaped in order to “focus sounds in a better way.” Plus "Ears becoming pointed as a result of plastic surgery not only enhance the attractiveness of the face, but also improve the experience of listening to music." Pan flutes have never sounded so good.

Lengthening Your Legs – Russia

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The Ilizarov Scientific Centre in southeast Russia offers people of limited height a way to add a few inches to their stature. With a procedure that involves breaking the legs at the shin bone and then gradually pushing the bones further apart, the process can take upwards of one-year in some extreme cases. The broken bones are gradually pushed apart by a metal frame which prevents the bone from healing naturally, and over an extended period of time, new bone cells form and fill in the gaps between the two pieces.

Vestigial Tail Removal - Worldwide

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Between 1960 and 1997 there were 59 reported cases of babies being born with vestigial tails. So it's no understatement to say that a child with a tail is a rare occurrence in pediatric surgery. The vast majority of these cases can be easily remedied with a relatively simple procedure, as the appendage is only attached superficially by a cord of fatty tissue. There is just one recorded case of a human tail containing vertebral remnants, and the longest tail on record was measured at an impressive 20 centimeters.

Pubic Hair Transplants - Korea

Apparently in Italy and South Korea there are some that consider a dense pubic region to be a strong sign of fertility. In order to cement their status as the fertilist of the fertile, some women are obtaining pubic hair implants. The antithesis of a Brazilian wax, this procedure can cost as much as $3,500.00 and is frequently accomplished by transplanting hair from the patient's head onto the pubic region.

Transforming into a Cat – United States

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Body modification is nothing new, but some people have taken it to such extraordinary lengths that it’s worth taking note. David Avner has spent in excess of $200,000 on plastic surgery in an attempt to make himself look like a tiger. Somewhat of a celebrity, "Catman" has appeared on various TV shows, showing off his tattooed stripes, pointed ears, surgically implanted whiskers, modified upper lip, and feline-like teeth. He'd probably look better without the tattoos. Wonder if he'd consider getting laser tattoo removal.

Magnetic Sixth Sense – United States

If the traditional five senses aren't enough, you can consider surgically implanting a rare earth magnet just beneath the skin of your finger so you can sense electromagnetic fields in addition to your boring old sense of touch. Todd Huffman, an Arizona State grad student with a background in neuroscience, was the first to undergo the procedure. Upon getting the implant, he quickly discovered he was able to recognize live electrical cables with what he describes as a "light, rapid buzz." Unfortunately, there is no word on whether he is able to manipulate Wooly Willy sans pen.

480 Pound Woman Fused to Couch – United States

In 2004, after nearly six-years of complete immobility, a 480 pound woman who was too large to leave the sofa even to use the bathroom was taken to Martin Memorial Hospital South in Florida. Over the six years spent on the couch, the woman had literally fused to the fabric, her skin merging with the material. Still attached, the woman was transported to the hospital using a trailer on the back of a pickup truck. At the hospital, doctors underwent an unsuccessful surgical procedure, and the woman died during their attempts to detach her from the couch.

Face Transplants – France

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Formerly the stuff of science fiction and preposterous movie premises, Dr. Laurent Lantieri, one of the French doctors who operated on a man severely disfigured by a genetic disease, says, "There is no reason to think these face transplants would not be as common as kidney or liver transplants one day." Although some surgeons consider the procedure to be a "dead-end road" due to the drugs necessary to prevent rejection of the tissue, as of August there have been three successfully completed partial face transplants.

12-Year-Old Girl has Liposuction – United States

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In 2006, Austin resident Brooke Bates was given liposuction at the age of just twelve-years old. At five-foot-five and 220 pounds she was classified as morbidly obese, and doctors were able to remove 35 pounds of fat and fluid from her body. Though the procedure is common, it is not typically performed on someone whose body is still developing or of that size. Plus, nonsurgical fat removal like UltraShape® wouldn't have been suitable. Some critics spoke out against the inability of a child to "fully comprehend the risks and benefits" and another doctor went so far as to call the surgery a "dangerous precedent."

Cosmetic Surgery for Goldfish - Australia

Lucky the goldfish proved to be aptly named when he was selected for a cosmetic surgery to remove six benign tumors that were growing over his scales. Tumors can frequently develop in older fish like the ten-year-old Lucky, but since some fish can live as long as twenty years, this type of surgery isn’t entirely uncommon. Lucky’s surgeon, Dr. Greenwood, performs over sixty surgeries each year to remove aesthetic flaws on pet fish and notes that like any other pet, some owners grow quite attached to their aquatic companions.