Time for plastic surgeons to look in the mirror?

I recently returned from a plastic surgery meeting with many of the leading plastic surgeons in the field. This particular meeting focused on cosmetic, not reconstructive, procedures. I’m talking about non-surgical services like Botox or fillers but also surgical procedures such as facelifts, eyelid lifts, breast augmentation and tummy tucks just to name a few.


I think what I found more fascinating than the newest techniques for fat injections or practice management was the people watching…or in this case, the “plastic surgeon” watching. The more I looked, the more I was shocked and bewildered by what I saw. Sure most of the plastic surgeons and their significant others (wives, but also husbands) look like “normal” people. No obvious nips or tucks.


But a minority of surgeon’s spouses look, quite frankly, bizarre. Plumped up and totally uneven lips, partially paralyzed faces due to nerve injury during a previous facelift, tightened faces and eyes that appear to be going through a wind tunnel. I’m referring predominantly to the spouses the surgeons have treated but in some cases, the plastic surgeons themselves.


At first I felt bad writing about this topic due to concerns of offending the plastic surgeons and their spouses reading it, but then I had a realization. They won’t be offended and here’s why. I figure there are two types of plastic surgeons and spouse: those that read this and know they haven’t had any work done and know there’s truth to what I’m saying in general; then there will be those plastics surgeons and their spouses that have had significant work performed and won’t think I’m talking about them.


This second group is in denial. They don’t think they look ridiculous. If they were self-aware enough to know how they looked, they would stop injecting themselves with so much Botox and fillers. Due to their lack of self-awareness, they’ll think I’m referring to those “really fake” looking people, but not them.


It’s a shame because at some point, they probably looked fine. Just a bit refreshed but not overly done. Unfortunately something happened along the way. From their baseline appearance, they made a slight improvement and were initially happy. When that treatment started to wear off, they no longer compared their current state to their previous baseline. Instead, they mistook their current appearance as their new baseline and took off from there.


This gradual transition is what “blinds” the surgeon and their spouse to this altered state which they assume to be aesthetically pleasing, rather than shocking, like it is to the rest of us (including other plastic surgeons).


However this is not only a problem for the drastically altered appearance of their spouse. What about the patients the surgeon treats? Specifically, if the treating physician has this new assessment of what makes his/her spouse pleasing to the eye, won’t they transfer that same aesthetic to their patient? Will they know how much is too much or will they treat the patient to an extreme? Regardless, their assessment and subsequent treatment isn’t malicious or malpractice, just unfortunate.


I know the great majority of board certified plastic surgeons are outstanding physicians. I also recognize there’s nothing wrong with someone building on their self confidence and wanting to feel attractive. But at the point you forget who you are, what your baseline is, you drift into an unsettling state. Granted you can’t undue a nerve injury that has left your facial muscles weaker on one side versus the other, but you can cut back on the Botox, fillers and bleaching creams and age subtly and gracefully.




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