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Cosmetic Surgery: Unrealistic Expectations

December 14th, 2011

Who should have cosmetic surgery?   So far, I have mentioned that physical health is a necessity before elective cosmetic surgery should be considered and that I require a current history and physical by an independent primary care physician before any patient is added to my schedule for surgery.

Let’s talk about patient expectations or why somebody is seeking cosmetic surgery to make a physical change.     I evaluate patients on several levels.   Patients with a good mental attitude, including healthy motivation are generally appropriate candidates for cosmetic surgery.

Unrealistic expectations or patients suffering from untreated body dysmorphic conditions do not make good surgical candidates and we can look to Michael Jackson to see why.   They are frequently dissatisfied with the results, regardless of how they turn out and rarely see themselves in a realistic or accurate fashion.

A patient having surgery thinking it will save a personal relationship is never a good idea.   Cosmetic surgery should not be done for someone else.   The ideal motivation is driven by an internal sensitivity about a real physical feature, such as a hump on a nose or facial aging.   Body changes or disfigurement may also be the result of illness, trauma, sun damage, pregnancy, genetics or birth deformity.

So healthy motivation and realistic expectations are the key factors in evaluating patients considering aesthetic surgery.  Years of experience help me sort this out with prospective patients.

I find that healthy patients with appropriate motivation and realistic expectations make the happiest and most satisfied patients in my practice.

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Too Much Good Stuff – Body Dysmorphic Disorder

September 23rd, 2009

Cosmetic surgery addiction or habituation does occur more frequently than one would expect.   At least it appears that way in the media.   Websites are full of individuals who have chosen too much plastic surgery.  Also featured are people that have chosen procedures which have left them with an unnatural physical appearance, either by design or because of a poor result.   I think these situations are related.

The first person who comes to mind is the late Michael Jackson.   Throughout his life he underwent a metamorphosis each year toward a more bizarre facial appearance.   By examining successive photos, it is impossible to figure out precisely what he had done.   Obviously he had multiple nose surgeries.   He has also had a variety of facial skin tightening/whitening procedures along with a myriad of facial implants and injections.   I really think he suffered the full expression of   “body dysmorphic syndrome.”   “Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental illness also known as imagined ugliness. It’s just that – a person sees physical flaws that either too slight or nonexistent for anyone else to notice…” The term imagined ugliness perfectly describes this condition.   Michael Jackson imagined himself ugly and most likely sought out cosmetic surgeries and treatments in an effort to alleviate his mental anguish.  As it has been reported, he also sought some type of escape by abusing numerous prescription drugs.  In a way he traded his probable psychiatric diagnosis (socially unacceptable) for a surgical procedures (socially acceptable).   Arguably the cosmetic surgery procedures provided him with the publicity he craved and attention he needed on a continued and ongoing basis.

It is unfortunate that he surrounded himself with an  entourage that did very little in his best interest, except to simply enable his unhealthy choices and line their own pockets.

Tomorrow I will discuss Jocelyn Wildenstein, known as the “Cat Woman” of New York because of her  peculiar desire to look like a cat.

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