Tales of Celebrity Plastic Surgery : Why it is of absolutely no importance when it comes to choosing your Plastic Surgeon
Article by Kamran Jafri, MD
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
Once you have lived in NYC long enough there are certain realities of the World that present themselves to you. One of the myth shattering realizations is that celebrities are just like anybody else – they are just people. They shop at Bloomingdales, get their coffee at Starbucks, eat at Perla and undergo surgery and medical treatments just like anybody else. The difference of course is that they are celebrities – instantly recognizable, famous, familiar characters all at once come to life. In our lives! Again though, being New Yorkers we leave them about their business and there are a good many of us who actually get annoyed they have entered our space and we are subjected to the inevitable paparazzi, commotion and traffic jams that accompany them.
However, in the world of Plastic Surgery and in particular the marketing of Plastic Surgery, celebrities hold a very special place. Articles are written, candid pictures are snapped and magazines sold based on conjectures of who has had what done and if it passes communal muster or not. Practices will tout who they have treated albeit in an “indirect” manner so as not to appear hypocritical while endorsing their utter respect for patient privacy issues. The PR and Marketing muscle for practices will follow suit and find very creative ways to get word out about the doctors they represent who have treated celebrities – if celebrities go to them they have to be good! Lastly there are the peripheral players who may worked in offices or assisted doctors in these practices and then go on to infer that they were directly involved in taking care of these celebrity patients – they have to be good too!
Well, time to come back to reality. Certainly celebrity clientele can add luster and generate good business for a plastic surgery practice. For patients choosing a plastic surgeon however this should be a non-factor. Here are some points for patients to consider that will help you see through the “smoke and mirrors” marketing of celebrity plastic surgery and the physicians that use them.
1. Celebrities by and large are attractive people with very blessed genetics (this is an obvious advantage and prerequisite for appearing on TV and film). While there certainly is added stress and pressure in working on a celebrity, the fact is we are surgeons and we thrive under stress and pressure – what better way to feed our egos! From a surgical standpoint these wonderful celebrity genetics make for rather easy surgeries – they already look amazing so all that’s really needed is minor enhancements. There are no plastic surgery miracles when it comes to celebrity cases. Mini-facelifts, slight bump reductions on the nose, natural looking botox are the norm – procedures that 99% of board certified surgeons can perform with ease and confidence. So don’t be overly impressed when seeing celebrity “endorsements” – be aware that the surgeon involved was just doing their job in what tend to be relatively easy and straightforward cases.
2. Just like when a celebrity wears a designer’s dress down the red carpet, the good word and press being the surgeon behind a celebrity’s “new look” can be invaluable. As mentioned above though, the patient better look good and the greater reality is that over time many practices develop mutually beneficial financial relationships with celebrity reps and managers and offer them deeply discounted fees to keep the celeb patients coming their way. So again, cast a wary eye when it comes to this since dresses are not exactly the same thing as surgery and everyone likes discounts and “freebies” –most especially celebs (perhaps in some cases a sense of entitlement comes into play?).
3. Another tried and true marketing technique is to become an expert commentator for magazines like People, US Weekly and In Touch. After all if a surgeon is good enough to give their opinion and conjecture on pictures of “celebs who have gone under the knife” they have to be a good surgeon. Right? Right?? Obviously not. The way it works is that you pay a PR company and in turn they use their contacts at the magazine (who often are under pressure from deadlines) to get your name in print and circulated to the millions of people who buy the magazines. It is undoubtedly good exposure for the practice but certainly does not give any factually based information to prospective patients trying to decide on a surgeon. Bluntly put, it’s nothing special and if you can pay the PR firm, then you too can be in the magazines – I should know, I’ve done it. After a while though I ended up feeling bad for the celebrities, especially the ones who ended up getting poor outcomes from their surgery. These are by and large deeply insecure people who really depend on public affirmation for their well being. Bad enough they have had their very public looks changed for the worse, I couldn’t even imagine the emotional toll it takes on them so I stopped doing it. Even worse was how I felt when friends and patients thought it was such a big deal to be commentating in these popular magazines – I knew I had worked hard to be in a position to be doing so but really deep down inside I knew what a farce the whole thing was. Real patient care should be of far greater import to surgeons and patients than any celeb rumor mongering.
As I said, spend enough time in NYC and many realities about life come to their true light. As far as celebrities and the role they play in the marketing of plastic surgeries I would advise all patients to take it all with a grain of salt and not let it play any major role in your search for the right plastic surgeon for you. Remember that fame and Hollywood was built on dreams and fantasy – excellent and ethical surgical care was most certainly not.
As for my plastic surgeon colleagues, especially those younger ones who just now are starting their practices, I cannot deny the exposure and potential financial benefits that associating your practice with celebrities can bring. Of greater imperative though is how much I want to advise you that at the end of the day you really don’t need it. If your true desire is to run an honest and ethical practice then approach the celebrity marketing route with caution and stay aware of how it reflects on you as a physician and what it does to you as a person. More often than not you may not like where things end up – I know because I tried that route and remain so happy I figured out to get off of that road.