Ear, nose, and throat surgeons have long treated patients with vocal problems related to overuse of the voice, growths and tumors, and other medical causes. Recently, such techniques have begun to be offered by voice plastic surgeons for "cosmetic" purposes.
First employed electively to feminize the pitch of the human voice in patients undergoing sex change treatments, a variety of high-tech techniques are now being vigorously advertised in some Asian countries to "improve not only communication, but also image and competitiveness" with the "promise of a beautiful (or younger) voice."
Phonoplastic surgery is touted as able to enhance one's personal appeal by resolving conditions such as rough, hoarse, and trembling voice that may interfere with career, job interviews, and sexual attraction and "ruin your image."
The sound of one's voice is created when both sides of the vocal cords vibrate. If altered by bumpiness, hardened tissue, or normal aging change, the sound may vary from weak to wobbling to overly coarse and "masculine."
Surgery is designed to remove growths or thin down thickened tissue using microsurgical cutting techniques and a variety of lasers. If the vocal cords are relatively immobile or weakened by aging, injection of a "bulking substance" (similar to the filler Radiesse used to treat wrinkled skin) can make vibration easier and the voice stronger and clearer. Even BOTOX may be used to fine tune the result.
While surgical treatment of voice problems due to medical conditions is well accepted, invasive voice surgery for cosmetic reasons alone remains controversial.
By no means can the result be fully predicted, and some patients are said to have ended up sounding not unlike cartoon characters.
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Voice Plastic Surgery