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Age of “Selfies”

May 20th, 2014

It’s official; the word “selfie” has been added to our dictionary. Not only has it made a way into our lexicon, I think it mirrors the narcissism of pop culture and our obsession with social media. The unfortunate popularity of reality TV has given rise to a generation of people imitating this self-absorbed behavior. Enter the “selfie,” which often reflects an inflated and grandiose view of the taker. Social media has made it possible for anyone to become a sensation on YouTube, a trending topic on Twitter or gain millions of random followers on Facebook.

Social media has focused superficial attention on looks, spurring a boom in cosmetic surgery. “Seflies” demand an extraordinary critical eye on the part of people posting the photos and often harsher criticism still on the part of the viewers.  For a cosmetic plastic surgeon, our challenge is to effectively evaluate a patient’s reasonable expectations regarding requests for surgery during routine our consultations, because motivations aren’t always forthcoming. So in an age where it seems everybody wants to be a star, at least in his or her own social sphere; I find it’s increasingly important to keep one foot firmly planted in reality!


Cosmetic Surgery Too Much of a Good Thing?

November 26th, 2012

When is cosmetic surgery too much of a good thing? I filmed a segment for the local Fox News Affiliate here in Minneapolis, hosted by Medical Correspondent, Dr. Archelle Georgiou.  They filmed part of the segment while I was performing a lower blephaorplasty or lower eyelid surgery.  My patient did have some other plastic surgery  in the past and while gathering routine background information, Dr. Georgiou inquired whether I felt that the patient was perhaps choosing cosmetic surgery too often.  In other words, did I think the patient suffered from a possible cosmetic surgery addiction?  As with all my patients, I am careful to evaluate a patient’s motivations for surgery and attempt to uncover any unhealthy desires for seeking cosmetic surgery.  In this case, I feel confident that my patient had legitimate concerns regarding the unsightly bags under her eyes and that she was an excellent candidate for eyelid surgery.   She expressed realistic expectations from the surgery and in my opinion; she is certainly not a cosmetic surgery addict.

However, while we are on the topic, let me elaborate. There are several characteristics that are common among cosmetic surgery addicts and for the most part, they are not dissimilar to other addictions.  Patients that have Body Dysmorphic Disorder are likely to seek cosmetic surgery to correct “perceived” physical flaws.   This disorder has significant psychological components and it is unlikely that any amount of cosmetic surgery will correct feelings of having physical deformity that may not exist.  This disorder leads some patients to have excessive cosmetic surgery.    As a physician, I feel a professional and moral obligation  to refer patients that exhibit these difficulties to the proper psychological care when it is appropriate.  

Without a doubt there are patients who do suffer from this problem.  The pop culture media machine is quick to point out the cosmetic surgery obsessions of Michael Jackson, New York’s “Cat Woman” and Joan Rivers, to name just a few.  

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