If you think about plastic surgeons and plastic surgery with movies as your reference point, you probably will not get a very realistic view of what it is that plastic surgeons really do. Or what can plastic surgery really do to/for someone. Even most novels get it wrong.
You may have read a recent bestseller where someone wanting to hide his identity has radical plastic surgery and even his close friends and family members don’t recognize him (“The Accident” by Chris Pavone). This is pretty unlikely as was the case for the character played by Johnny Depp in the movie “The Tourist”. Very few of us have hidden clinics on a mountain top in Switzerland where we work to render our patients virtually unrecognizable!
So how does real life compare with the reality TV show “Botched”? Glad you asked….
The current show “Botched” on E! TV is also not really representative of my profession and of what I do on a daily basis. Understand, please, that shows about successful plastic surgery where the patient has a great outcome, no complications, and little drama will not sell many advertising dollars. So the networks air the outrageous and not the reasonable.
Revisions happen, but hardly ever like on “Botched”
As is the case with the doctors on “Botched” all of us have seen patients who have been operated on by other plastic surgeons. Most of the time this is to revise something that was done in the distant past such as a woman who had breast implants many years ago and now wants to be a bit smaller and needs a breast lift. Her previous surgery was by no means “botched”, rather things have changed over time. Sometimes what the patient wants changes over time. And this can lead to revising or re-doing what would otherwise be considered to be a good result from the previous surgery.
What about patients who have had plastic surgery outside of the country because it was cheaper and had a poor result? Yeah, I’ve seen one or two and they have needed additional surgery. What about poorly placed buttock implants that move around and are uncomfortable? Yeah, I’ve seen one of those. And what about patients with silicone injected everywhere in their body? I’ve only seen one patient with silicone injections and it was to the face. This was virtually impossible to treat successfully. But, unlike what you might think from “Botched” this is not an everyday occurrence.
What does happen in our office
I and my colleagues who are board certified plastic surgeons have seen patients who have had plastic surgery by non-plastic surgeons with poor results. Sadly, this is more common that any of us would like. But there are doctors who will do things they are not trained or board certified to do in order to make a buck. This is always a cause for patients to be careful, ask the right questions, and ascertain that the doctor they are seeing is a board-certified in plastic surgery. As a patient, it’s all about doing your homework.
Who does get it right
Recently there was a real breath of fresh air from the author John Sandford in most his recent book in his “Prey” Series. I enjoy reading his novels and following the tales of Lucas Davenport and his comrade in arms Virgil Flowers (as in “F__king Flowers”). For those of you who don’t know Sanford’s work this series involves law enforcement officers in Minnesota. Davenport is an investigator for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and is married to a board-certified plastic surgeon Weather Karkinnen. In his most recent book, Weather goes on a tear about non-plastic surgeons doing plastic surgery with poor results. She touted the need to have plastic surgery from only board certified plastic surgeons. Way to go Weather and John Sandford! Nice to see the real message make it into print.
Interestingly, Sandford’s reasonable view of plastic surgery probably stems from another book that he wrote with a plastic surgeon. In 1989 under his real name, John Camp, he wrote “Plastic Surgery, The Kindest Cut ” with a good friend of mine Bruce Cunningham, who is a plastic surgeon at the University of Minnesota and a former president of the American Society of Plastic Surgery.
So, as with so many other books, when an author really does the research to understand the professions he is writing about, the better the book and the more accurate the information. We are all better off for the portrayals of plastic surgery by folks like John (Camp) Sandford. Thanks for our words, John!
All the best,
PS: I review more books and movies in the recent edition of Your Beauty Magazine. If you’d like a free copy, just fill in your snail mail address and we’ll get it right out to you.Plastic Surgery
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