Surgery is a big deal: Skin, tissue, muscles are sliced open, altered, and stitched back together. There's bruising, fluid leaking, soreness, the possibility of nerve damage. Today, the New York Times looks at people who choose to go under the knife — in order to look more like a celebrity.

Nino Dean, who wants to look more like Vanessa Paradis, tells Abby Ellin of the Times:

I wanted her baby face. I still find her my favorite beauty of all.

Folks used to tell Deborah Davenport that she looked like Cameron Diaz. She didn't like it at all. So she spent $15,000 to look more like Kate Winslet.

Few things satisfy Ms. Davenport as much as when she is told she has a likeness to the Oscar-winning star. Never mind that Ms. Winslet has said she is opposed to plastic surgery.

The irony hasn't escaped Ms. Davenport.

"Here I am trying to have surgery to look like someone I think hasn't had surgery," she said.

We live in a celebrity-obsessed culture, and the allure of the beautiful people is hard to resist. It's quite commonplace to "want" a star's clothes, shoes, handbag. Hair color? Sure. Absolutely. But isn't wanting someone else's face rather self-destructive? Or maybe it's better described as self-constructive. Choosing the way your body is constructed. Except is it really about you, when it's about someone else?

The idea of body modification — from piercings and tattoos to breast implants and nose jobs — is usually accepted as a form of self expression. Taking control over how you present yourself to the world. But what are you saying to the world when the you you're presenting is just someone from TV?

It doesn't seem to worry Stacy Shanahan, who spent $6500 to look like Heather Locklear.

"I know it sounds crazy, but I'd be happy being more like her," Ms. Shanahan said. "I wouldn't miss how I look. She's beautiful."

Image via Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock