By GINA STEWAR
Cosmetic surgery involves more than a change of face.
Dr. Charles A. Stewart, a cosmetic and plastic surgeon in the Provo/Orem area, said he believes cosmetic surgery is becoming more commonplace in Utah and across the United States. He said this is because people are increasingly concerned about their appearance and many new techniques are becoming available. He gets approximately 20-30 patients per month strictly for cosmetic reasons, he said.
“Attention is placed on physical appearance, body image and exercise.
The physical image is being raised to a higher level of consciousness,” Stewart said. “You can now have cosmetic surgery without feeling the stigma … it’s no longer only for rich or vain people.”
“Who you are is what you see and think of yourself,” said David Poole, a Winter Park, Fla., cosmetic and plastic surgeon in the Orlando Sentinel.
Kathy Johnson, a nurse from North Valley Surgical Associates, said she believes Utah is a good market for cosmetic surgery.
Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is their most common request, Johnson said. Most of their patients are middle-aged women who want their stomach to be tight after bearing multiple children. Johnson said surgery is the only way that’s made possible.
Stewart also said his clientele are primarily women in their late 20s or middle 40s. His most common requested procedure is breast enhancement.
Stewart said just because people feel more comfortable about receiving surgery for cosmetic reasons does not mean it is for everyone. Potential patients need to have a careful consultation and both the patient and physician must understand the expectations, he said.
Mary Jane, from the First Presidency’s Office of The Church Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said individuals contemplating cosmetic surgery should counsel with priesthood leaders and use good judgment. She said it is a personal decision, one which should be studied out and taken to the Lord.
“I provide counseling to make sure I understand what they are feeling and why they are seeking changes,” Stewart said. “Each patient is different.”
Often patients have unrealistic expectations which can lead to unsatisfactory results, Stewart said, or people have the surgery to please someone else.
“Some people think they’ll look perfect again, like they’re 16,” said Carrol Hinneger, who works for several doctors who perform both cosmetic and plastic surgery at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. “Surgery improves, but we’re not God.”
“It must be a personal decision for it to be a positive thing,” Stewart said, referring to one of the conditions he requires of his patients. “Surgery doesn’t change any other aspect of life except what is being operated on. The patient may feel more confident but it is not going to save a marriage or get someone a job.”
Although for some people cosmetic surgery is not a good idea, Johnson said for others it significantly affects their self-esteem and afterward they are a new person.
“The psychological component is the most important aspect of cosmetic surgery,” said Dr. Harry Eisenberg, a Maitland, Fla. cosmetic surgeon, quoted in the Orlando Sentinel. “We are treating the patient psychologically as well as physically.”
Some cosmetic procedures also fulfill true medical needs, according to a brochure from the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, Inc. It is important to understand that the circumstances and experiences of every individual will be unique, according to the brochure.
For example, Johnson said in cases of breast reduction, the line between cosmetic and medical need is thin. Such a procedure can eliminate back problems and completely change a young woman’s perspective on life, she said.
Johnson said each individual has to be a candidate for the desired procedure. For example, she said liposuction will only work if it is right for someone’s body. They cannot have liposuction if the skin is too thick, or if there is no reason for it, she said.
Some cosmetic procedures available in Provo are: abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), augmentation mammaplasty (breast enlargement), mastopexy (breast lifts), phenol and tricholoroacetic acid (chemical peel), collagen/fat injections, dermabrasion (scraping top layers of skin), blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), rhytidectomy (face lift), facial implants (for receding chin, cheekbones, jawline), forehead lift (browlift), hair replacement surgery, suction-assisted lipectomy (liposuction), cynecomastia (male breast reduction) and rhinoplasty (nose surgery).