It's a rather simple concept. When you are happy with what you see in the mirror, you are more likely to be happier in your overall life. It's a human condition that, frankly, affects everyone to some degree. Women get their hair done with a stylist and their nails done at a salon. Men go the barber for a clean haircut. And we all pick out clothes that we like and that we think are flattering. We want to look good.
Some of us go the extra mile and seek services like waxing, laser hair removal, Botox, microdermabrasions and, of course, the more permanent plastic surgery.
Dr. Sonny O, a plastic surgeon located in Mount Pleasant who specializes in the face, body and breasts, said that his patients seek plastic surgery, whether when it is completely elective or when it's necessary, because there is something about their body that has bothered them – usually for quite some time.
"Patients who are seeking plastic surgery for necessary reasons, like a breast reduction, or just for elective reasons, like tightening the lower eyelids, really all have a commonality," Dr. O said. "They want to improve something about their appearance so that they can feel better about themselves."
Dr. O said the consultation is a very important aspect of the process. It allows him to get to know the patient and to develop a comfort level.
"It helps me understand what it is that's bothering them about their appearance and why," he said.
He also said that the consultation is important for managing expectations.
"I want my patients to have a realistic vision with the outcome," he said. "We get bombarded with so much information on the internet, and many patients just don't have a clear understanding of what is best for them."
Many times, the consultation leads to other options besides plastic surgery, such as nonsurgical and minimally invasive procedures, Dr. O said. He added that he realizes why patients have high expectations for their surgery results.
"This is not a reality show," he said. "But there is a ton of pressure out there to look a certain way."
Dr. O stressed that it is the responsibility of the doctor to manage their patients' expectations.
"It is my responsibility not to overdo it," he said. "Sometimes I do have to say 'no' to someone who is asking for too much. We like to achieve natural results that enhance the features of the patient and do not defy the process of aging."
Dr. O said, "When a patient comes in and swears that there is a bump on their nose that they see, but no one else sees, that is a psychiatric condition. Plastic surgery is not magic. We do have limits."
Dr. Marisa McMillian Tomasic, a psychologist and writer, said, "For those dealing with psychological issues or negative mood states such as depression or anxiety, dissatisfaction with surgery outcomes has been shown to result. It's doubtful that a standard cosmetic procedure alone would have a beneficial impact on happiness. When the patient has the belief that his or her surgery will be the antidote for life's problems, discouragement is likely to ensue."
Dr. Tomasic explained that people who seek multiple plastic surgeries could suffer from body dysmorphic disorder. She defined it as, "A condition that leads to multiple surgeries to fix some perceived bodily imperfection or flaw that the person believes can only be corrected by further procedures."
She also said, "No real amount of plastic surgery would be enough to satisfactorily empower these patients to be authentically happy, satisfied or confident with their bodies and lives long-term."
The desire to be accepted is a deeply human emotion.
"From what I have noticed, patients are pretty genuine about it," she said. "The fact that the plastic surgery industry has been growing demonstrates the importance that people set on looking good."
The beauty industry has grown by leaps and bounds even in just the past 10 years.
"Statistics show that people are looking for less invasive ways to look good," said Dr. O, advising that people seek the help of trained, board-certified aestheticians. "There are so many services being done now by people who are not qualified to do them. My advice is to make sure you are being worked on by professionals who are qualified to do it."
From tummy tucks to rhinoplasty and from breast implants to face-lifts – the reasons we all seek the services of doctors like Dr. O remain the same — we want to look our best for as long as we can.
"Plastic surgery is a great option, and we are lucky to live in a time where there are so many advancements to help us look our best," he said.
Q&A ABOUT EYE PLASTIC SURGERY WITH DR. GENE R. HOWARD, OCULOPLASTICS & COSMETIC PROCEDURES IN MOUNT PLEASANT
Q: Is eyelid plastic surgery more common among certain age groups or ethnicities? A: Droopy eyelids are common across all ethnicities. As we age, poor vision is caused by excess skin hanging over the pupil. As a result, this frequently causes issues with driving safety, particularly at night, where people generally reduce driving due to poor vision. Unfortunately, the opportunity and availability for repairing this problem doesn't seem to be well-known among many people.
Q: How does this surgery improve appearance or function? A: It reduces the appearance of age and fatigue, significantly improves peripheral vision, night vision and reading in a large number of people.
Q: Why do people want this surgery? A: Most want it to help improve vision, feel safe driving and sustain a youthful appearance.
Q: Are there any complications to note? A: As with any surgery, especially around the eyes, there are going to be risks and benefits. As a result, it is critically important to seek out the most experienced professionals in this area, rather than individuals who perform this type of surgery infrequently.
Q: What is recovery like? A: There is a mild amount of swelling and bruising for one to two weeks. In most cases, very little pain is noted.
Q: What is the cost? Is it covered by health insurance? A: In most cases, upper lids are covered by insurance. Lower lids are always considered cosmetic.