While doing some grocery shopping tonight (yes, plastic surgeons do grocery shopping – my spouse is a dermatologist so we split the household chores) I saw this month’s Life & Style cover story “Heidi’s New Surgery Disaster.” Being a cosmetic plastic surgeon this naturally piqued my curiosity so I bought the magazine and read it when I got home.
The essence of the article is a story about how Heidi regrets all the surgery she had, about ten or so operations performed at once, at a cost of over $100,000. There is an extensive pictorial showing her multitude of scars, which are portrayed as horrific. I am not writing this blog to defend what was done, but rather to make a few comments on my observations and offer my opinion.
1. No one “needs” cosmetic surgery. Sure, we may see someone with a large hump on their nose and say they “need” to have it fixed, but they really don’t. The purpose of cosmetic surgery, as I see it, is to make a person feel better about the way they look, that is, to make them more comfortable in their own skin. There is other reason to have cosmetic surgery than to make you feel better. Never do it for someone else.
2. Do not let your surgeon “talk” you into having anything done that you are not in agreement with. Heidi discussed having liposuction on her legs, but later expressed remorse that the scars did not justify the results and that her surgeon talked her into it. As her surgeon recently and very unfortunately met a tragic end, we will never know the truth about that.
3. Surgery does not happen without scars. All humans form permanent visible scars when their flesh is wounded. Some scars are less apparent than others. As plastic surgeons, we learn how to plan our incisions, close wounds, perform surgery and handle tissues so as to minimize scarring, but we cannot eliminate it. Some patients will form scars more visible than other patients. As surgeons, we have no control over patients biologic wound healing properties. I inform all of my patients of this fact many times over before surgery is performed.
4. Surgery is stressful. Altering your physical appearance, even for the better is stressful. Combining the two can produce stress as well as emotional ups and downs in the immediate period after surgery. This is all normal, and again, I advise all of my patients about this. I even have a cute little diagram that we give them before surgery to explain this. Some patients undergo two or three procedures in a single sitting. With advances in surgical and anesthetic technique, this is rarely an issue. However, where do you draw the line? I am not sure just what the limit should be, but I do believe that ten procedures at once is probably a bit much.
5. With the exception of Heidi Montag’s breast augmentation, I think that most of her results look good. Maybe not perfect, but plastic surgery is rarely perfect. Let’s face it, our tissues are rarely perfect and the surgeon can only work with what he is given, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still deliver exceptional results. My suspicion is that Heidi was not adequately counseled before her surgery about what to expect in terms of results and scars after the surgery. As far as her breast augmentation, I think that that alone can be the subject of another blog, but suffice it to say that it is ill advised to go from an A or B cup to a G cup. The destruction to the breast tissues is irreversible and uncorrectable. A properly performed augmentation based on the natural characteristics of the breasts yields excellent, natural results with minimal risk of problems, both in the short term as well as the long term.
My advice for those interested in plastic surgery is to not be put off by Heidi’s unusual story. Her story is one of a woman with perhaps unrealistic expectations, a long list of features about her body that she wishes to correct, a surgeon who more than pushed the envelope on what in my humble opinion is reasonable and a lack of appropriate preoperative counseling and preparation.
I recommend those interested in cosmetic surgery to do your research. Spend time on the Internet looking at lots of plastic surgery websites. Learn as much about the procedure that you are interested in. Visit several surgeons. Ask lots of questions. Speak to patients who have had the surgery that you are interested in. IF you personally know people who have undergone the surgery that you wish, visit their doctor as well. An informed patient, as with any other consumer, will in the end be the happiest patient.
To your health & beauty,
Dr. Mark Epstein