Do Plastic Surgeons Want You to Feel Bad?
We read an article recently that asserts that plastic surgeons want you to feel bad about yourself. What the author really meant was that those of us in the industry target people’s low self-image in an effort to attract patients. How true is this notion? And does it have implications you should consider?
Let’s take a look at the points the author tried to make.
1) Plastic surgery ads prey on people’s insecurities.
The author acknowledges that we live in a culture that celebrates certain ideals of beauty. He notes that advertisers leverage this by touting products that promise to give you shinier hair, clearer skin and so on. In our busy media market in New York, plastic surgeons are front and center offering everything from larger breasts to smaller breasts to help women and men achieve the appearance they wish for.
We do see advertising by plastic surgeons in New York and other urban areas that goes too far. It’s clear to us that the use of certain words such as “perfect” may create unrealistic expectations, and gimmick-y procedures like the “vampire facelift” don’t do much for many patients except empty the wallet. Worse are ads that demean people. There’s no better example than a sad woman holding tangerines in front of her breasts and a happy woman with a pair of grapefruit.
But, in our experience, most plastic surgeons seek patients who feel generally good about themselves and just want to fine tune. Read some of our plastic surgery patient stories and you’ll see what we mean. We treat people with very specific goals, like Ahuva. She gained weight after a medical treatment, worked very hard to shed the pounds and elected a tummy tuck when she could not get her slim abdomen back on her own. Then there are patients like Mora for whom cosmetic surgery goes hand-in-hand with an important life milestone. These are people with clear objectives and reasonable expectations, not patients who have come to us trying to fix insecurities.
2) The $16 billion spent by patients every year could be used better.
Citing statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the article suggests that the money spent annually on cosmetic surgery could be better spent elsewhere. He suggests hurricane relief efforts and other ways to ease human suffering would be more appropriate targets.
There are a couple of points to raise about this notion. The most obvious is that you could make such a statement about many industries. According to PEOPLE Magazine, the average woman in the U.S. spends $15,000 on makeup in her lifetime. Couldn’t that kind of money make a difference to a charity as well? Is makeup a valid personal budget item?
In addition, while we don’t usually know about the charitable habits of our patients, it’s worth noting that many newsmakers who have undergone plastic surgery are also philanthropists. Jane Fonda is one example. Her causes include youth and reproductive health and higher education. In other words, people can invest in their appearance and in the well-being of others too. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
3) The boost in confidence plastic surgery patients talk about isn’t REAL confidence.
The article noted that if you have issues with self-esteem, plastic surgery probably isn’t the answer. The author strongly asserted that confidence is not a byproduct of your appearance.
We agree—for the most part. When we meet people with psychological challenges in consultation, we most often suggest counseling and other ways to build their self esteem rather than a cosmetic procedure.
But we would argue strongly that while plastic surgery can’t give sudden confidence to a deeply troubled person, a healthy person’s confidence can be undermined by an area of the body that bothers them. Read this man boobs patient story and we think you will agree: the confidence this young actor gained from a straightforward, two-hour surgery is very real indeed.
If you’re considering a cosmetic procedure and you’re not sure it’s the right move for you, we have suggestions. First and foremost, examine your motivations carefully. Are your expectations in line with what cosmetic surgery can really accomplish for your appearance and your life? Also, spend at least a few hours researching the procedure that interests you—read everything you can find, both positive and negative. Finally, make at least two consultation appointments. There are many talented and reputable plastic surgeons in New York who practice with nothing but integrity. We believe you would feel that way about us, and we’d be very happy to hear from you.