1. How can an individual understand the reasons they are seeking plastic surgery? When is it an internal problem (such as anxiety or depression driving the desire)?
Sometimes individuals seeking cosmetic surgery are dealing with a long standing internal struggles. For example, someone suffering with significant underlying anxiety or issues of low self esteem may find it easier or even safer in a way to alter their physical appearance, rather then delve into the psychological issues that may underline their feelings. The best way to really understand your feelings and desires is to consult with a therapist prior to making the decision to engage in surgery. This will really you to determine if in fact what you are seeking something that can be fixed on a physical level or if perhaps it should be combined with therapy in order to help the person work through whatever they are dealing with on an emotional level.
2. What advice would you give people seeking plastic surgery?
First of all, try to be as honest with yourself as you can and ask for opinions of people with whom you are closest with and who you really trust. If the majority of people are saying to you that there may be other issues going on then that is definitely something to take into consideration. Second, understand the reality of the surgery; what it will alter and what it will not. Surgery will change your physical appearance and can definitely provide you with a boost of confidence, however it will not erase or eliminate long standing emotional issues or trauma. Finally, don’t go for a consultation during any type of low point in your life (e.g. after a break up). The idea of a quick fix may be enticing at the time, but may not really be what is needed.
3. How young is too young for plastic surgery? Is there an age minimum or limit?
I don’t think that there is an age minimum or limit, however this depends on the circumstances. For example: A child with a disfiguring facial feature that can be corrected by plastic surgery should have the opportunity (if possible) to lead a life without feeling insecure about their deformity. On the other hand, A child who is 8 years old and competing in a beauty pageant should not be permitted under ANY circumstances to receive botox injections.
4. Would you ever recommend plastic surgery? If so, under what circumstances?
Absolutely. People come to me all the time to discuss the option of plastic surgery. What I try to understand is the decision making behind the surgery. I have had patients who come in who have been unbelievable successful in their careers, but who have always been unhappy with their nose. I have others who have been struggling to lose weight and would really like the help of liposuction or a tummy tuck. What I look for are the red flags and that is people making impulsive, uninformed decisions out of peer pressure, anxiety, depression or something deeper.
5. How do you think media and unrealistic images of beauty influence the decision to seek out plastic surgery? Is this healthy?
What troubles me about the media is that some people believe that what you see on a magazine cover or in a movie is how that individual really looks. Having worked in the cosmetics industry for 10 years and now having a private practice in the heart of Beverly Hills there is a false sense of perfection that can drive some people to feel that they are never quite good enough no matter how amazing they look or how many procedures they have had.
6. What do you consider negative reasons for an individual to seek out plastic surgery? When is it body dysmorphic disorder and how do you differentiate?
Negative reasons for seeking plastic surgery
-a significant other has advised you to
-you feel as if your life will never change unless you have it.
-You are comparing yourself to celebrities and don’t feel you “measure up”
-a broken or terminated romantic relationship
-You have consistent feelings of anxiety and/or depression
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a type of chronic mental illness where you feel out of control in that you CAN’T stop thinking about a particular flaw in your appearance. With BDD you are constantly seeking ways to fix your flaws, yet once they are fixed you are never satisfied. Some symptoms include (but are not limited to):
-Preoccupation with your physical appearance
-Strong belief that you have an abnormality or defect in your appearance that makes you ugly
-Frequent examination of yourself in the mirror or, conversely, avoidance of mirrors altogether
-Belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way
-The need to seek reassurance about your appearance from others
-Frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction
-Excessive grooming, such as hair plucking
-Refusal to appear in pictures
-Comparison of your appearance with that of others
-Avoidance of social situations
-The need to wear excessive makeup or clothing to camouflage perceived flaws
7. How do you feel about mothers who influence their children to get plastic surgery? What direction would you give to parents regarding plastic surgery as an option for their child?
Be mindful and remember that children are quite impressionable. Making a child feel that something is “wrong” with him or her or that their appearance needs to be “fixed” at this age can be extremely damaging to their self worth and can have long term lasting affects on overall self esteem. If an older adolescent is seeking plastic surgery I always recommend having a therapy evaluation first and then proceeding with caution depending on the desired surgery.
8. What advice would you give someone whose significant other is pressuring them to get plastic surgery and on the other side, how do you talk to your significant other about wanting to get plastic surgery?
If someone else is pressuring you to get plastic surgery then I would be examining what their intentions are. If it is a close trusted friend or family member then I say hear them out, however, remember that in the end the decision is yours and yours alone. The decision should not be made to please or satisfy someone else.
If you are wanting to get plastic surgery and not sure how your family or significant other will react then present it to them in a way that is open and honest with room for reciprocal discussion. Hear out concerns and questions and take their thoughts and advice into consideration.