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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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Too Much of a Good Thing – Two to Tango

October 2nd, 2009

Patients choose whether to have cosmetic surgery or not.   It is purely an elective and usually non-essential surgery.   Some patients end up having so many cosmetic surgery operations that their physical appearance becomes distorted, as I have discussed in prior blogs.   Obviously the responsibility of having multiple cosmetic surgery procedures rests with the patient.   However, without a surgeon or injectionist doing each treatment, excessive surgery would never occur.   It takes two to tango, except of course when patients do surgery or injections on themselves.

I often see patients during consultations that have had multiple surgeries.   Most often they have had their surgical procedures over a number of years and performed for specific physical sensitivities.   Most results are natural in appearance and they are generally accepting of results, which may not always be perfect.   In my opinion, these individuals are not obsessed with cosmetic surgery and I will consider them as patients.

There happen to be a few patients that present having had multiple surgeries on a single body part in quick succession, done by different surgeons.   Some have so much scarring; it is impossible to make any further corrections.   I advise these patients not to have more surgery.   My professional ethics do not allow me to accept them as patients.   Sadly this is not acceptable to everyone and unfortunately they will continue to seek out other physicians either locally or in other cities, until they find a surgeon to do what they want.   Rest assured, you can most always find a surgeon to operate on you.   Understand that surgeons make their living by operating, so when a surgeon recommends not having surgery, there must be a very good reason because they are losing income.   Nonetheless it is difficult to disappoint a patient and turn them away.   Fortunately, here in Minneapolis, most of my patients have reasonable expectations and seem to be conservative in their desire for unnecessary or repetitive cosmetic surgeries.

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