Body Image is My Business


Body image is my business…As a Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon it is the world I work in every day and the greatest body image challenges I see come in two forms. First, the way people see themselves, and second, the way others perceive those that go “under the knife”…

We all see ourselves a little different than the rest of the world see’s us. As humans, it makes sense. Most of the time, we feel different about ourselves than the rest of the world feels about us! But it has been my experience that the people with the biggest body image problem are the ones that have an abnormal tendency to focus on the smallest of areas, things that in passing would go completely unnoticed in day to day contact. For these individuals, the mirror becomes a microscope, and photos become a funnel, turning all their attention to just one, small area. As one can imagine, these are the hardest people to satisfy with Cosmetic Surgery. When they enter a room, they imagine everyone is looking at the same thing they look at in the mirror. And when I have operated on these individuals (as much as I try to screen for that beforehand!) it is all I can do to try and convince them that they are being way too hard on themselves and that when they walk into a Starbucks, people look at them from head to toe and not just at the corner of their left.. lower.. eyelid…

The second area of misperception is when I read or hear people that feel that the reason people would go to such a “drastic” measure as having surgery or having some foreign device inserted in their bodies, is because they essentially lack self esteem, and feel really bad about themselves. That if they didn’t feel society’s pressure to look perfect then in effect, I wouldn’t be doing what I do. I can tell you (and anyone is welcome to come and visit and see for themselves) that the vast majority of the patients I work on are not unhappy individuals. Quite the contrary, they have strong self esteem, feel great about themselves and are simply looking for a change to make themselves feel even better. In other words, they don’t do it to look like Gisele, they do it to feel good. And as humans, we go to great lengths to do things that make us feel good. We go on expensive vacations, we buy boats and bikes and shoes, we jump out of a perfectly good airplane and we strap air on our backs and explore the ocean. We do those things, not because we lack self esteem, but because we like to do things that make us feel good or even better than we feel on a day to day basis. And what seems “drastic” or “extravagant” to one individual ( see the airplane reference above!) may be perfectly rational and doable to another.

Now don’t get me wrong. I do see people who come into my office because they do feel bad about themselves, but usually it is just that they feel bad about one part! They may have been teased in school by their peers (I see this a lot with prominent ears that stick out or an oversized nose) and once they do have surgery, the bad feeling they had about that one area goes away, and they now feel even better about their self image.

There is, however, the other side of feeling “bad” but again, I put many of these people in the category of unhappy individuals. I try really hard NOT to operate on these patients. I have a simple rule: If I walk into my exam room for the first meeting with a prospective client, and they don’t smile…A big red flag goes up!!! I see people who are unhappy for a variety of reasons. They may feel bad from divorce, loss of a partner, unemployment, pressure from society, or wanting to look like Cindy Crawford... Yes, there are these, but fortunately they are rare and neither I nor the far majority of surgeons I know want to touch them with a ten foot pole, much less, a scalpel….