Plastic Surgery and the Entertainment Industry

In an industry where you are judged primarily on your looks and your age, plastic surgery is almost mandatory for any age group. It’s becoming just as important in the corporate world, too. Artists and executives are more likely to get hired if they appear young, trim and attractive. A nip here, a tuck there and you’re good to go.

But what happens when something goes terribly wrong? We’ve seen some very odd sightings both on the streets of LA and on the covers of various supermarket tabloids. Burt Reynolds and Farrah Fawcett seem to have their skin pulled so tightly that their faces are actually misshapen. Joan Rivers jokes about talking through her navel after so many face lifts. Then there’s the infamous Michael Jackson.

A plastic surgeon on the Discovery Channel recently stated that Michael Jackson’s nose is actually dying from all the surgery. They displayed a recent picture of Michael Jackson in court and the skin was actually peeling off his nose. And now there is speculation that his nose is really a prosthesis.

While these particular surgeries are all considered elective, many plastic surgeries are required to correct a serous defect or repair someone after an accident, or to correct a medical situation brought about by a previous surgery.

So, how do you choose a reputable plastic surgeon and minimize the potential disastrous effects 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 individuals 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. Neither of these methods guarantees a skilled surgeon, and if you’re shopping around for a bargain deal, limit that to what you can find at the local Wal-Mart, not your surgeon. You’re risking your life if you do. There have been numerous horror stories and even deaths resulting from bargain basement surgeons promising beautiful breast or a youthful appearance.

Since it appears as if it’s almost mandatory that people in the entertainment industry get plastic surgery at some point in their careers, you need to choose wisely. Here are a few questions you should ask when seeking out a skilled and reputable surgeon.

1. Get several recommendations from verifiable and reliable sources.

2. Check with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to verify if he or she is in good standing. Here is their website: Also go to 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 approved by the American Medical Association and the American Board of Medical Specialties. Any doctor who is certified by the board must meet the following requirements:

o They must have graduated from a school, which is 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 from a United States osteopathic school accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

o They must have completed a minimum of three years clinical training in general surgery, or complete 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 approved residency training for plastic surgery in the United States or Canada.

o They must have successfully passed a written, practical and oral examination in plastic surgery.

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

You can also check with the Federal Trade Commission for instructions: Don’t go strictly by the certificates on the wall. Anyone can look impressive by printing up (or ordering) a certificate or a diploma and getting a good framer.

Ask questions of the doctor!!! Find out what percentage of his surgical practice is spent performing the type surgery you are interested in. Find out the length of time your doctor has invested in training for the procedure, as well as how many of the procedure you are choosing to undertake 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 attributed for the negative results. Find out what happened and why so it doesn’t happen to you. Also find out if they are continuing their education to keep fresh in the field.

If the doctor is resentful or cops an attitude because you ask detailed questions and expect complete answers from them, walk away, going on to the next doctor on your list. They should have nothing to hide. There are dentists who have gone to a weekend seminar and are now certified to do liposuction. Now that’s scary! Plastic surgery is a very lucrative business with billions of dollars spent annually. Everyone wants his or her piece of the pie. Make sure to verify all information with reliable sources.

1. Tell your doctor you would like to speak to some of his patients who have already had similar procedures done. Most reputable surgeons adhere to this practice.

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

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

A year and a half ago I had a medical need to undergo breast reduction. I had insurance and simply chose a provider on my list. I made my decision based on my insurance carrier. I didn’t do my due diligence and check the doctor out as I am advocating you do. Unfortunately, a year after the surgery, I was still suffering from infection, hardening and complete numbness in both breasts, not just in one area. Additionally the surgery left me with a deformity on both sides that caused problems both physically and esthetically. I had to undergo more surgery as a result, but once again I was at a loss of who to go to, or more importantly who I should trust.

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

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

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

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

Take a word of warning from someone who has “been there, done that,” do your research. If you choose poorly, especially while working in an industry that places so much emphasis on physical beauty, you may no longer have the career you once had; and more importantly, you may not have your health or your life. Just as you practiced your craft to become the best at what you do, carefully pick a surgeon who has put the same care and effort into his training. In this case you will get what you pay for.

Copyright 2005 Jaci Rae


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