Fear can hold us back, and when it comes to cosmetic surgery, it is fear of what the results might be that affects us most. But it’s just a myth that patients are never satisfied, like it’s a myth that cosmetic surgery is only for the rich, the vain and women.
Myth: People are never happy with their cosmetic surgery
According to ABC News, more than two-thirds of North American baby boomers say they would consider having cosmetic surgery if they knew it was completely free and safe. So why aren’t more people doing it? What’s holding them back is fear of the Titanic Effect—the poorly done nose job, the pulled face, or the blank, expressionless look that shouts, “I’ve had work!”
Anne fretted for fourteen years about her profile. She’d inherited her father’s nose, which looked fine on him but didn’t, in Anne’s opinion, fit well with her delicate features. “Fear of a bad- or unnatural-looking result was the only thing that held me back,” she says. After having the surgery, Anne says, “I feel like I’ve always had this nose. I think it’s almost funny how anxious and apprehensive I was about the surgery.”
Plastic surgery disasters, though few and far between, always get noticed in the media, especially if they happen to a celebrity. They’re usually the result of too much plastic surgery.
Patients tell me all the time that they don’t want to look like Joan Rivers, who jokes that her face “has been tucked more times than a bedsheet at the Holiday Inn.” To my mind, there are many in the entertainment business whose results are less attractive. And, to her credit, Rivers makes no apologies about her ongoing campaign against the effects of aging. In her book Men Are Stupid … And They Like Big Boobs, she observes, “In our appearance-centric society, beauty is a huge factor in everyone’s professional and emotional success—for good or ill, it’s the way things are; accept it or go live under a rock.”
One way that surgeons measure success is by the “revision” rate on noses. Those are rhinoplasties that have to be done again because they didn’t work the first time. Why noses? Because they’re the most difficult to get right. A good cosmetic facial surgeon may have a 10 to 15 percent revision rate on rhinoplasties. But with care and a conservative approach, you can get it down to 5 percent. The aim shouldn’t be perfection but improvement.
So the idea that people are never happy with their plastic surgery is false. In my own practice in Toronto, a study that we did of almost one hundred facelift and rhinoplasty patients, both men and women, revealed a satisfaction rate of close to 90 percent. These patients viewed plastic surgery not as an indulgence or a luxury, but as a self-image concern that cut to the very heart of social desirability.