There has always been a bit of a stigma in the world of plastic surgery about what we do…how it is considered so vain and “unnecessary” by some. Plastic surgery has definitely become more popular in the last 20 years, and also more mainstream. Plastic surgery practices of the 1970s and 80s would seldom ever find a male patient that was interested in pursuing something elective, but even now that has become “normal.”
Something struck me the other day and really made me realize how there is true “biology” in feeling good about oneself, and this is not only relegated to us homo sapiens. We want to feel good, and part of feeling good is also about feeling “pretty” or attractive. My family has a young Golden “doodle” dog, and she is a wonderful, playful puppy. However, when she gets in the mud and gets dirty, she hides under the bed and really doesn’t want to be around others. Whenever she gets her “bath” and is freshly coiffed, her behavior is completely different—she strides around with confidence and is happy, visibly happy, and she parades around proudly for all to admire how she feels about herself.
I realized that humans aren’t that much different than canines; all of us have “things” that bother us…aesthetic things that maybe we were teased about as a kid or even something that we may notice that others don’t. It might be a mole on the face, a teenage male patient that is too self-conscious to take off his shirt and go swimming in the summer because of chest or male “breast” fullness (i.e. gynecomastia), or an extra “pinch” around the midsection that makes us feel self-conscious in clothing. It is amazing what a difference plastic surgeons can make by addressing these concerns and truly making meaningful improvements in someone’s life.
One of my wisest mentors once told me: “Doctors can do only two things—they can make you live longer or make you live better.” His feeling was that we plastic surgeons are in the “dedicated to making one live better” camp. Plastic surgery, as I see it, is really dedicated to aesthetic improvements in things sometimes someone is born with, sometimes something that changes over time (like after having children), or something that could be marred by an accident or trauma.
So when you have surgery of any sort (or you are considering something surgical)—whether you “had” to have an appendectomy or you chose to have your mole taken off, your “ears pinned back,” your chest “flattened,” or a restorative mommy makeover procedure to the breast and tummy after having children—there should NEVER be any guilt that something wasn’t necessary. Maybe plastic surgery was necessary…and it made all the difference.
Personally, as my mentor taught me, I vote in my life for living better over living longer.
– Dr. James F. Boynton, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon