Exploring local and global ideals of beauty in Turkey : discourses and practices of plastic surgery patients and physicians
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Intrigued by an increase in demand for aesthetic operations all over the world, this study offers an in-depth investigation of plastic surgery as a consumption phenomenon. First, it looks at how local and global notions of the beautiful are negotiated in Turkey through consumption and marketing of aesthetic operations. Second, it looks at the nature of a service relationship formed between the surgeon and the patient-consumer, and how this relationship is constructed and maintained. Gazi University Hospital was chosen as the ethnographic research site. Results indicate that beauty is perceived as something that individuals improve, upgrade, and refine through time. Potential patients tend to have one of two ideals: The individual’s own younger appearance or someone else’s appearance. The ideal presented in the media is changing, making the target both difficult to achieve and difficult to catch. Here it is also possible to talk about a marketing process initiated and maintained by doctors and aesthetic medical companies at a global level. Neither the dominant logic nor the new logic of marketing can satisfactorily explain patient-consumers’ behavior in this context, where boundaries for the product cannot be established and there is considerably higher risk compared to other purchasing situations. It is possible to talk about doctor branding in this context, where brand positioning and brand image cannot be static since doctors are also people. Moreover, patient satisfaction has longitudinal and interpersonal characteristics since it involves the approval of others.