Monday, November 15, 2010

Families and Plastic Surgery

I read this article by Colin Stewart , Spouses often are jerks about plastic surgery, a few weeks ago.  Since then I have been thinking about not just the husbands but families in general I see in my practice.  Remember I practice in Little Rock, Arkansas not Hollywood but I still find this to be true and not just of husbands.

Husbands of plastic surgery fans have a sensitive role to play.

It’s a challenge that most of them fail. Instead of communicating effectively and caringly with their wives about plastic surgery, husbands tend to act like jerks or wimps.

I think often the patient may also fail in communicating effectively to her spouse, significant other, family, and friends why she feels the need to have cosmetic/plastic surgery.  In defense of the spouse and others, it can be a mind-field.  After all, you don’t want to suggest your loved one is less than perfect with her small breasts or her saddle bags or the bat wings or her father’s nose or …..

It is easier for me to ask the question “why do you want to have ____?” in my office.  There’s less judging, not the same emotional baggage.  The individual is less likely to feel rejection from me if I suggest she re-examine her reasons or discuss them more fully with me.

I want the individual to be the one who initiated the visit to my office.  I certainly don’t want a pageant mom to bring in her daughter for liposuction or breast augmentation anymore than I want a husband to push his wife into having larger breasts.

The article mentions

The wimpy approach.

“You look wonderful, dear,” they say. “You don’t need any work done, but if it makes you happy, go ahead.”

The in-control approach.

Many other husbands go to the other extreme and become dictators. They demand their own way, whether it’s pro- or anti-plastic surgery.

It’s much nicer for all involve when the patient and her/his family discuss the options with respect for each other.  Some family members are anti-surgery because of fear of losing the person when they change themselves.  Some are anti-surgery because of the fear of losing the loved one to a complication of anesthesia or the surgery itself.

When those fears are voiced, the individuals can address the emotions.  Marriage counseling is often a better solution than surgery.  Bigger breasts won’t necessarily keep the husband from leaving for the younger woman.  And, yes, some women pre-plan their cosmetic surgery before the divorce.

Certainly a family member’s fear of losing the loved one to a death related to potential risks of surgery/anesthesia need to be addressed.  Complications happen.  Deaths happen, fortunately rarely, but they do happen.

The desired improvements must be weighed against those risks.  The patient (and her family) must be realistic regarding expectations. 

The article describes a successful discussion between a patient and husband.  She gave voice to specific reasons for desiring the surgery.  He voiced his concern.  They both listened to each other.  She won him over.

When Rinna began considering lip-reduction surgery to remove the scar tissue, she expected Hamlin to object, and she was right.

Plastic surgery is “never a good thing, in my opinion,” he told People magazine. “Plastic surgery is just an extension of that whole ‘let’s stay fresh and young’ vibe.”

She said, “I knew Harry would say, ‘Don’t touch it, don’t mess with it.’ He was like, ‘Maybe you should just leave it alone.’ He loves me the way I am.”

But she told him how important the operation was to her and what it was like to be the butt of never-ending snarky comments about her lips.

Family discussions can help the patient to be honest with herself regarding her reasons and expectations.

3 comments:

Gizabeth Shyder said...

This is an interesting perspective on the topic that I've never thought about.

Women pre-plan surgery before a planned divorce so the guy will pay for it? I don't get that part.

rlbates said...

Yes, unfortunately

BrainDame said...

Nicely explored. Family issue are never considered enough in medicine-whether elective cosmetic surgery or cancer chemotherapy. Many relatively enlightened doctors now really do care for the patient but we still too often leave their significant others behind.