People in Japan have good reason to feel unlucky these days. Price inflation is out of control. The currency is weakening. And then there is the ongoing Fukushima Dachai nuclear power plant disaster that is threatening the health of millions. On a national level and on a personal level, people in Japan are suffering. Some are now taking matters into their own hands – or palms, so to speak.

Palm surgery is the latest cosmetic procedure in Japan that is destined to change the lives of many. The object is to surgically alter the natural lines and creases in the palms to form “luckier” patterns. The Japanese are big on palm reading – so much so that people are willing to endure surgical pain in hopes that Lady Luck will notice and deal the patient a better life hand.

Palm reading goes back a long way. It’s based on the premise that the natal lines of the hand are a kind of personal fortune teller’s road map. A long, well-defined life line, for example, is viewed as a good thing. So is a long marriage line.

While many scientists scoff at the notion that the lines in the palm of the hand are meaningful in any way, but that’s not the case in Japan where at least 40 such procedures have been performed at one clinic since 2011. The procedure is becoming so popular, in fact, that plastic surgeons don’t bother to advertise.

Palm surgery isn’t cheap and it isn’t painless. An electric scalpel is used to burn new lines in the palms or to add length and depth to existing lines. Palm surgery patients believe the surgery will change their fate for the better. Skeptics, however, will argue that if people are born with a personal destiny, palm surgery won’t change the outcome.

At best, it’s a way to manipulate palm readings and gives the palm surgery patient a sense of control over his or her destiny. At worst, it’s a potentially risky procedure that, if done incorrectly, could damage nerves, sever tendons, and leave scars. If the trend should ever get a firm grip on the U.S. market, that could be a cause for concern among health care practitioners.

Don’t tempt fate. If you’re considering palm surgery, talk it over first with a qualified plastic surgeon. Your future health and well-being is in your hands.

Dr. Kyle S. Choe is a board certified facial plastic surgeon and hair restoration specialist in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Contact The Choe Center for Facial Plastic Surgery at 757.389.5850 for a personal consultation.