Plastic surgery and the entertainment industry

Wang Yan
Wang Yan

Global Courant

In an industry where you are primarily judged by your looks and your age, plastic surgery is almost mandatory for every age group. It is also becoming just as important in the business world. Artists and executives are more likely to be hired if they look young, well-groomed and attractive. A sip here, a sip there and you’re good to go.

But what happens when something goes horribly wrong? We’ve seen some very strange sightings both on the streets of LA and on the covers of various supermarket tabloids. Burt Reynolds and Farrah Fawcett seem to have pulled their skin so tight that their faces are actually disfigured. Joan Rivers jokes about talking through her belly button after so many facelifts. Then there is the infamous Michael Jackson.

A plastic surgeon on the Discovery Channel recently stated that Michael Jackson’s nose is dying from all the surgeries. They showed a recent photo of Michael Jackson in court with the skin peeling off his nose. And now there is speculation that his nose is really a prosthesis.

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While these particular surgeries are all considered elective, many plastic surgeries are needed to correct a serious defect or repair someone after an accident, or to correct a medical situation caused by a previous surgery.

So, how do you choose a reputable plastic surgeon and minimize the potential disastrous consequences of surgery or surgical complications? People on the “A” list in the entertainment industry get recommendations from other celebrities who have had skilled surgeons work on them. But what do the rest of us do? You know, those of us who don’t make $25 million a picture or have $43 million record deals do?

The sad fact is that many people base their decision on whether their doctor participates in their insurance program’s PPO or HMO. Others base their decision on the price of the surgery. None of these methods guarantee a skilled surgeon, and if you’re looking for a bargain, narrow it down to what you can find at the local Wal-Mart, not your surgeon. You risk your life if you do. There are countless horror stories and even deaths due to cheap basement surgeons promising beautiful breasts or a youthful appearance.

Since it seems like it’s almost mandatory for people in the entertainment industry to have plastic surgery at some point in their careers, make a wise choice. Here are a few questions to ask when looking for a skilled and reputable surgeon.

1. Get various recommendations from verifiable and reliable sources.

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2. Contact the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to see if he or she is in good standing. Here’s their website: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/. Also visit the American Board of Plastic Surgeons: to see if the doctors you are considering are listed.

The American Board of Plastic Surgeons is the only specialty board responsible for certifying plastic surgeons that is endorsed by the American Medical Association and the American Board of Medical Specialties. Every board-certified physician must meet the following requirements:

o They must be a graduate of a school accredited at the time of graduation by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME), a Canadian Medical School accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS), or an osteopathic school in the United States accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

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o They must have completed a minimum of three years of clinical training in general surgery, or completed an approved residency in orthopedic surgery, or be certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology.

o They must have completed a minimum of two to three years of approved plastic surgery residency training in the United States or Canada.

o They must have passed a written, practical and oral plastic surgery exam.

o They must maintain an ethical status in the community as well as a moral status.

You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission for instructions: http://www.ftc.gov/. Do not strictly go through the certificates on the wall. Anyone can look impressive by printing (or ordering) a certificate or diploma and getting a good framer.

Ask the doctor questions!!! Find out what percentage of his surgical practice is spent performing the type of surgery you are interested in. Find out how much time your doctor has invested in training for the procedure, and how much of the procedure you choose to perform they have performed in total and how many years they have actually performed it. Ask how many of these surgeries were successful and how many were not. Ask what they wrote for the negative results. Find out what happened and why it’s not happening to you. Also find out if they continue their education to stay fresh in the field.

If the doctor is indignant or takes an attitude because you ask detailed questions and expect full answers from him, walk away and move on to the next doctor on your list. They shouldn’t have anything to hide. There are dentists who went to a weekend seminar and are now certified to do liposuction. That’s scary! Plastic surgery is a very lucrative business that spends billions of dollars every year. Everyone wants their piece of the pie. Make sure to verify all information with reliable sources.

1. Tell your doctor that you want to speak to some of his patients who have already undergone similar procedures. Most reputable surgeons adhere to this practice.

2. Get a second opinion from the second doctor on your list and repeat steps 2-4 before making a decision. Ask yourself an important question: “Who did I feel, gut feeling, more comfortable with?” Then and only then make an informed decision.

While all of these steps may seem excessive and take some time, they will save you years of additional reconstructive surgery and thousands of dollars if you ask questions, verify information, and exercise patience at the onset.

A year and a half ago, I had a medical need to have a breast reduction. I had insurance and just chose a provider on my list. I made my decision based on my insurance company. I didn’t do my due diligence and check with the doctor, as I plead for you. Unfortunately, a year after surgery, I was still experiencing infection, induration, and complete numbness in both breasts, not just one area. In addition, the surgery left me with a deformity on both sides that caused problems both physically and aesthetically. I had to have more surgeries as a result, but again I didn’t know who to turn to, or more importantly, who to trust.

A good friend of mine had a child who unfortunately had to have plastic surgery. She knew my plight and recommended her child’s doctor. I was a little apprehensive as you can imagine.

I talked to other friends about future surgeries. I mentioned my thoughts on using this doctor. And to my surprise, many of them had heard of him. Apparently, he is very famous in the entertainment industry and highly respected.

After seeing him, I understood how he earned his reputation. He and his staff were and are incredible! I have never been to a doctor who was so thorough or could put me so at ease.

Needless to say I am now doing extremely well thanks to the skill and care of him and his staff. After everything I’ve been through with such an essential part of my physical body and appearance, as well as my personal health, I’m finally on the road to recovery.

Take a word of warning from someone who has “been there, done that”, do your research. If you make a bad choice, especially if you work in an industry that places so much emphasis on physical beauty, you may not have the career you once had; and more importantly, you may not have your health or your life. Just as you have practiced your craft to become the best at what you do, carefully choose a surgeon who has put the same care and effort into their training. In this case, you get what you pay for.

Copyright 2005 Jaci Rae


Plastic surgery and the entertainment industry

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