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Celebrities and Plastic Surgery

by aypsc
Dr.Donn Hickman obtained Board Certification in two specialities: General Surger
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on Aug 31 in Uncategorized 0 Comments

Celebrities and Plastic Surgery

Donn M. Hickman, M.D.


     It has been said of plastic surgery and hair transplants you can't see a really good result because when done well  there are no signs or perceptible scars.  Celebrities and people in the public arena must continue to project youth and vitality, and combat the forces of aging, or else the public will find suitable replacements for the images so imagined. There is always a more appealing messenger.  This is human nature which brands public perception as the way we view the world.  Everything is about marketing ourselves- our look, our speech, our message, our delivery,  and quite frankly the first impression we make on others.   The scrutinizing consumer when choosing a plastic surgeon, should understand the character behind the face, the professional versus the novice, and the expert from the charlatan. 

    The change in the American health insurance payment system has caused a surge in non-core physicians and surgeons moving out of their designated areas of interest and enter the highly unregulated, modestly disciplined, and highly lucrative field of aesthetic medicine. This includes skin care, injectables, and  plastic surgery.   Consumers in the public spotlight seek the latest advancements to look and feel their best.  They are subject to the same marketing pressure as everyone else.  Seeking a cosmetic specialist not knowing if the doctor is properly prepared to perform the task is pervasive.  To have a particular look such as a popular pop star, actor, or any name-sake celebrity is very desperately felt in Southern California and Los Angeles.  Many celebrity icons may search for a particular set of eyes, a nasal profile, neck line, lip size, bust line, or body contour, and jump at the first slick advertisement by an affable doctor.  Celebrities may be guided by the doctor’s office location, flashy ads or infomercials where he or she is featured, and a highly persuasive manner.   The astute consumer doing  necessary homework on the doctor's credentials, core training, appropriate medical board status, and the doctor’s work, will only then be properly enlightened on the qualifications the doctor brings to the table.

     All consumers must think before buying, and particularly when seeking plastic surgery. The poorly screened patient with unrealistic goals or pursuing an endless stream of procedures does not alter a non-physical problem with low self-esteem    Instead, surgery may reinforce other elements including a destructive lifestyle.  A person may be trying to be something they can’t,  fit a role or position that can’t acheive, or attempt to restore the perfect image of a younger self that they can’t.   The surgeon then becomes part of the problem when giving in to these false hopes.  Sometimes  a surgeon may offer to try something but only after considerable consultation with the patient.  Attempting to correct a problem by causing another set of problems is what we warn as “do no harm”,  “put off until tomorrow what cannot honorably be done today,” and recognize that "your aptitude should determine your specialization”.  If  the plastic surgeon can within reason achieve something  and knows the limitations of his or her aptitude,  a patient may be reasonably confident that a procedure is indicated.

    The only cure for wrinkles is to not get old. We fight aging with every breath we take.  Often our genes influence the journey through life and some of us reach the final destination looking a little more robust than others.  Extraordinary new technologies and innovations plus conventional and well tested procedures offer many choices for the the consumer seeking plastic surgery.   It is up to the individual to balance a healthy lifestyle, diet, exercise, and any special care by the primary doctor to insure the journey into maturity is a safe one. This is reinforced by carefully examining  fads, slick promotions, or any beauty surgery fixes.

    Movie celebrities must completely change their mindset, character, emotion, and physical state to secure the special roles they provide us on the silver and small screen.  It is extraordinary to see an actor get  into a complex character by gaining or losing large amounts of weight.  In the stress of this action, they perhaps consume excessive tobacco or alcohol,  engage in flirtations with controlled medications and physical-enhancement substances, plus quick and aggressive plastic surgery.  People in the public limelight may come to the office and want the latest and greatest  treatment to erase wrinkles and restore glowing skin, and do not expect any risk or downtime, nor personal compliance required for healing.  They believe the best doctor will get them through it.  Furthermore, the person who has been making poor life and health choices does not make the best candidate for plastic surgery.  They may rush into surgery and demand the brightest eyes, the smoothest brow, the largest lips, and the tightest face.  Adding the element of persuasiive style, the doctor satisfies the person’s wishes.  The mature individual, who has not aged gracefully may, after plastic surgery take on an unnatural appearance. Without surgery they may just look old.  Some consumers may seek a slightly artificial look because their natural appearance does not fit the way they feel or help them reach the public.   These consumers may go for broke, requesting the most aggressive operation and repeat procedures.  A bold new look may suit them but for the observer, this bold look may look odd. 

      Celebrities are not that different from the general public. Consumers and their doctors can make bad choices.  What may please one patient may quite profoundly displease another.  When celebrities look strange from obvious plastic surgery, it does put a blemish on the speciallty of plastic as a whole.  We cannot make a true judgment, since the extent of the informed discussion between doctor and patient is not known.  Actors starring as action heroes will prepare themselves physically, but may resort to quick and unsafe physicial-enhancement substances to optimize a particular physical look.  These chemicals are controlled unlawful substances.  Patients may experience changes in face size and fullness, thus, are not going to look as good after an eye lift or facelift, even when performed well.  A woman with a face injected full of silicone, exhibiting bloated lips, or having too many facial implants, may seek a well-trained authentic plastic surgeon for a facelift. The facelift results may be less pleasing because of all the prior ghastly procedures.   It is often best not to select such patients since the surgeon is then credited for the entire result.  Michael Jackson had a great Rhinoplasty at the time he produced his Thriller album and it was done by a great plastic surgeon.  This icon could not stop his quest for some perfect view of his nose and self, and somehow convinced the next surgeon or surgeons to go far beyond anything reasonable.  Plastic surgeon greed was implied here since Michael Jackson could afford these measures.  He pushed the limits of reality to the point of developing a ghostly facial deformity.  As a board certified plastic surgeon also boarded in general surgery, my office is  frequently confronted by the previously-operated patient who presents with a complex surgical problem and may not reveal the true state of health or nature of prior surgery.  They more often than not fully expect some correction of their problem in one single stage and for everything to be perfect.   We are, truly the build, fix, and repair specialty of surgery.  We take care of mistakes of nature, trauma and disease, as well as other surgical misadventures. We also correct, revise, and make enhancements on procedures we have performed.  We are trained to deal with problems that can result from procedures we perform. 

      A practice in plastic surgery is not without the occasional complication that distresses the patient as well as the surgeon.  No matter how hard you plan, how rested you are, or how precise your execution is on the day of surgery, even experienced plastic surgeons can have complications, or a result that is less than ideal.  It is hard enough for those of us with many years of surgical training and even additional boards of certification to perform perfect plastic surgery.   That is why it is difficult to see how a celebrity or any consumer can fail to research a doctor carefully before agreeing to have plastic surgery. 

     An authentic plastic surgeon with 7-8 years of formal surgical residency and fellowship may be compared to a cosmetic surgeon who may never had core surgery training except for a short course or tutorial.  There are a number of cosmetic surgeons who completed perhaps a  a month or two of core formal surgical education after medical school, involving operating itself, or caring for the sick surgical or burn patient.  Yet we are aware of family doctors, dentists, dermatologists, and emergency room doctors performing face lifts and body surgeries with little supervised education.   Some doctors  have gone through unsponsored and unaccredited fellowships wherein they simply observe another doctor perform surgery for 3 months to two years.  What the public needs to understand is that bad results make great press and create a lot of emotion.  Public responsibility is fundamental. 

    This final comment is a famous passage of five centuries ago.  It is from the father of plastic surgery and defines the role of the plastic surgeon directed to the individuals who have serious physical afflictions.  Sometimes the patient seeking plastic surgery will be delighted at what their eye fancies and what boosts their spirit, but others may not see it that way when the look is overdone.


 "We restore and make whole those parts which nature or ill fortune has taken away, not so much to delight the eye but to buoy up the spirit of the afflicted."

Gaspare Tagliacozzi  1597





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