Have you ever wondered what you would look like post-plastic surgery? Do you think about the shape of your nose or the fullness of your lips constantly? Do you own an iPhone or iPod Touch? If the answer to these questions is - YES! - then you might be in luck, because Board-certified, Miami-based plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Salzhauer, has just released his much-anticipated app, iSurgeon. According to Dr. Salzhauer’s people, iSurgeon is “the most advanced beauty makeover app available in the iTunes App store,” combining personal image modification with high-tech gaming functionality. Beauty and gaming together at long last? Say it ain’t so.
Depending on whether you download the lite or pro version, iSurgeon has different levels of interactivity. (1) Game Mode gives you the opportunity to virtually don the plastic surgeon’s white coat and simulate one of four procedures to meet your avatar’s desires: Rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, or Brazilian butt lift. (2) Advanced Surgery Mode allows you to take pictures of yourself, friends, enemies, or strangers and see what they would look like after a creative session on the operating table. The app even permits you to conveniently share your results via email or Facebook. So now, instead of telling your boyfriend about the boobs you have always wanted, you can show
him. Talk about instant gratification – for the both of you.
Confused about how iSurgeon works? Check out the Dr. Salzhauer-led tutorial on YouTube
in which he walks you through the game's features with the assistance of a volunteer. He shows you how to take a picture - by pointing his camera phone at a young lady - and then he demonstrates the power of the app by manipulating the photo on the screen while explaining, “you can either make her look prettier - by making her nose look smaller, let’s say…” (At this point the young woman’s facial expression goes from emotionless to “Hey, wait a minute, what did he just say?” as she laughs in disbelief). The video barely scrapes the surface of what sort of damage iSurgeon is capable of wreaking on an innocent photo in profile or - perhaps even more frighteningly - a full body shot.
Let's be honest - This app is bound to be put towards more sinister purposes than getting a preview of potential plastic surgery results. Anything goes, whether you want to test out a receding hairline or a triple chin. Because the touchscreen technology doesn't offer much in terms of precision, more often than not the image deteriorates into a blurry blob. Think Photoshop meets a funhouse hall of mirrors...on acid. And the jarring sound effects that blare in the background don't make the experience any more enjoyable. It's hard to imagine anyone taking the experimental surgery seriously, especially when the game doles out an arbitrary score based on the time spent "operating" and provides a cheeky assessment such as: "Not bad for a sushi-chef, but not ready for human beings."
Having never entertained notions of myself giving or getting cosmetic surgery, I have to admit I was curious, and so I tried out iSurgeon both in Game Mode and Advanced Surgery Mode with a personal photo. I ended up disturbed at how deformed I could look with a few finger strokes and frustrated at how impossible it was to correct my mistakes. iSurgeon seems like the next generation of the battery-powered board game Operation, except instead of losing the game when you hit an edge with the tweezers, you lose your dignity.
I think iSurgeon is one of the many examples of a bad concept brought to life by technology. If you are actually considering plastic surgery – an expensive and potentially life-threatening endeavor – wouldn’t it be best to discuss the possibilities and realities of such a procedure in person with a medical professional? Allowing potential plastic surgery clients to mess around with their virtual appearances seems a tad like playing with fire. Are we really close to a day when tech-savvy individuals go to their doctor wielding a handheld device with a completely revamped version of their face, and request the same results in real life?
But in reality, iSurgeon is not going to attract players legitimately interested in going under the knife. With its sassy tone and social media sharing features, the app clearly targets young people, who are already self-conscious enough without finding pictures of themselves with a nose job floating around the internet. iSurgeon encourages a blatant form of facial and bodily butchery. So now the next time you see an iPod pointed in your direction, you have an alarming reason to turn away.