During my general surgery residency back in the 1990’s, I came across many older, “old school” general surgeons. When these surgeons find out I was interested in plastic surgery, their contempt for our specialty was obvious.
These old-timers felt plastic surgery was for “other surgical specialty rejects”. Plastic surgery was viewed as vain and vulgar in their view.
Unfortunately, most of their belief was out of ignorance, but part of it was based on reality.
During their training, plastic surgery was in its infancy. Techniques were rudimentary and results were acceptable, but not as refined or predictable as today. The results were significantly worse for cosmetic surgery (aesthetic surgery), with the final result having that “operated look.” Perhaps this is why these older surgeons felt plastic surgery was vain and vulgar.
Fortunately, we now receive respect from our colleagues and patients, for both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.
But is it vain to consider cosmetic plastic surgery?
There are patients who are never happy with themselves. They constantly look at themselves in the mirror, finding “imperfections” which require plastic surgery. These patients probably suffer from body dysmorphic syndrome (BDS). Technically, therefore, they are not vain and suffer from a psychological disorder. In my experience, the percentage of patients with BDS is small. However, the rate may be higher in areas such as Hollywood, due to the movie industry and its emphasis on looks.
Majority of my patients have reasonable concerns and reasonable expectations. Do not get me wrong, they expect a very good to excellent result, but they understand the limitations of anatomy and the healing process.
I cannot tell you how many of my rhinoplasty patients have gone from being shy and timid to confident and out-going.
I cannot forget the time when one of my face lift patients came for her three month follow-up and there was a bite mark on her neck!
How can I forget the mommy makeover patient who bragged about her new bikini? How can I ever forget the constant smile on her husband’s face?
Did I mention the numerous patients who got engaged after their breast augmentation? I hope the proposals were for the right reason!
So, is cosmetic surgery vain? You be the judge.
Michael A. Jazayeri, M.D. is a board certified plastic surgeon with over 10 years of experience. To schedule a complimentary consultation, please call 714-834-0101.