“Mama Has a Boo-Boo Right Now” — The Ups and Downs of Telling Loved Ones About Plastic Surgery
Elisabeth Kramer on 6 May 2015 at 3:30pm
Mary* was heading into surgery when her husband offered, once again, to buy her a new car.
“He tried to talk me out of it multiple times,” she says of her breast augmentation. He had a good strategy, too: offer her the car — a 2015 Mustang Ecoboost, a $30,000 purchase — she’d been eyeing for months. But his attempts fell short. “This is something I wanted to do for me, so I did it,” she says of getting implants.
Flash-forward to a few weeks after her March 2015 surgery and her hubby is a big fan of the results. “He says it’s kind of an inner conflict because it’s me but I [physically] feel like a different woman,” she reveals. “He says, ‘I almost feel like I’m cheating on you.’”
On the other end of the spectrum is John*. Following his wife’s breast lift and tummy tuck, he says he no longer finds her attractive and isn’t comfortable “initiating any intimate activities.”
“It’s a very odd dynamic in that I think she looks great in clothes and I like the way she dresses, but all that is lost once clothes come off,” he says.
Writing 15 weeks after his wife’s surgery, John says he struggles with accepting a change to “something I have known and loved” for more than 11 years.
“I know how they are supposed to look and feel,” he says of his wife’s breasts. “Sometimes I feel like I am so far down this rabbit hole that I may not make it back out.”
“I’m Not Broken”
John’s story isn’t common but plenty of RealSelf community members tell us they face negative reactions from friends and family when they announce their decisions to go under the knife.
“I just went through such a painful texting battle with one of my best friends for seven years,” one RealSelfer wrote. Another explained why she wasn’t telling anyone about her operation: “There is enough stress with the decision, the recovery, and the changes to [then also] have to worry about who thinks what and who thinks you're nuts!”
Keeping the secret, however, only perpetuates the misinformation that surrounds plastic surgery.“It’s funny how this surgery can divide people like that,” writes Naomi*. “It may seem like a loved one is chancing her own mortality for vanity’s sake, but some people forget the culture we live in that tells a woman to be natural, yet imposes ideals that can only be attained by surgery. Part of me wants to be truthful about it but I feel like [people] would disapprove.”
Naomi learned the hard way. One woman became “very nasty” after Naomi mentioned her upcoming mommy makeover. “[She said] I was dumb to believe that my life would be better just because I had plastic surgery,” Naomi recalls. “The day before my surgery, she tried to talk me out of getting it done, cursed at me, and then she told me that she was ‘done’ with me and has not spoken to me since.”
Naomi had her surgery in February 2014 and has never reconciled with her former friend. She’s come to realize the woman’s reaction was “more about her than me.”
“She only liked me in order to make herself feel better about her post-baby body,” says Naomi. “Her concerns had nothing to do with me so eventually I learned not to take it personally.”
What does matter is how Naomi feels about her decision. “I don’t think of this mommy makeover as ‘fixing’ me, just enhancing my body,” she says. “‘Fixing’ is for broken things, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not broken.”
“Mama Has a Boo-Boo Right Now”
Dr. Tiffany McCormack has two young sons, ages 9 and 11, so she knows first-hand how difficult explaining anything, let alone complicated surgery, can be to a child.
“Less can be more with kids,” she says. “They want to have an idea of what’s going on. They don’t need to necessarily sit down and go detail by detail. They don’t care. They just need to know you’re going to be OK.”
Unfortunately, “Mommy has a boo-boo right now” probably won’t work on your 13-year-old. “I always think it’s better to have an open, frank conversation with friends, family, and your children rather than them finding out another way,” says Top Doctor Dana Goldberg. “Then it seems like they were cut out of it and trust issues come into play.”
But by mentioning plastic surgery to an already hormone-addled, pubescent teenager, do you foster the very self-consciousness we’d all like to avoid? That was the quandary of one mother who, having had a breast augmentation years before, wanted to offer her daughter the same life-changing experience. “I suspect she’s just as self-conscious about [her figure] as I was,” she wrote to the advice column “Dear Prudence”. Still, “I don’t want her to think that I think there’s anything wrong with her body” by mentioning the option of plastic surgery.
“There’s a clear risk in showing so much dissatisfaction with your body that you can almost contribute to your daughter having a complex about hers,” Dr. Goldberg says of this kind of situation. “But I think there’s a way to go about it. Think about why you want to have this operation done.”
Mirroring what many RealSelf doctors tell us, Dr. Goldberg says the women she sees each have a specific reason (and sometimes multiple reasons) for getting any given procedure. “‘I lost my volume after kids.’ ‘I want to be able to buy the same size top and bottom,’” she lists as explanations she hears. “They [don’t say], ‘I feel bad about myself and I think I would be sexier if I had bigger boobs.’ I don’t hear stuff like that.”
“Nobody Really Knows”
If John could go back in time, there’s one thing he wishes he would have known before his wife had her breast lift and tummy tuck: how the implants would feel.
“I do realize I am in the extreme minority,” he says of his adverse reaction to his wife’s post-surgery appearance. “I love my wife … There is so much more to my wife that I love beyond her appearance.”
What frustrates him is that when he did start to have doubts about her undergoing the procedure, he didn’t share them. “I wish I would have told her about my change of heart,” he says. “I think you need to be honest.”
Of course, when you’re the person getting plastic surgery it can be hard to hear what your loved ones think. Listen to their concerns, says Mary, but take them “with a grain of salt.” Because her loved ones know “all of my shortcomings, all of my previous decisions, all of my going back and forth” they thought her desire to get a breast augmentation was “just another phase.”
“It wasn’t viewed as something serious,” Mary says. She, however, knew just what was at stake: her confidence. It’s hard, she adds, for people to understand such a personal decision. “Nobody really knows how much energy and effort you put into research or how much time and energy you put in into making this decision but you.”
Photo source: Some rights reserved by Stuart Richards