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The good, bad, ugly

April 15, 2012|Alene Dawson
  • Reality television personality Heidi Montag had 10 plastic surgeries in one day at age 23. "If I could take it back, I would," she told ABC News.
Reality television personality Heidi Montag had 10 plastic surgeries… (Steven Lawton / FilmMagic )

Like it or not, plastic surgery is here to stay.

Sure, some people will tout the virtues of self-acceptance and aging gracefully and lament that the rise of cosmetic procedures (including fillers, Botox and the like) signifies the swift decline of civilization. But in reality, as long as people see a benefit -- be it in their work, personal or sex lives -- from looking younger or correcting perceived flaws, plastic surgery will continue to be a solution. According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 13,828,726 cosmetic procedures -- including the minimally invasive as well as the surgical -- were done in the U.S. last year. That's a 5% increase over 2010.

But sometimes plastic surgery doesn't make a person look younger or more beautiful (an arguably subjective word). It can instead just make the person look, well, weird. For instance, Olympic champion Bruce Jenner, patriarch of the Kardashian clan, famously had the results of a mid-1980s face-lift corrected in 2009 after years of unkind commentary. Mickey Rourke, Janice Dickinson, Dolly Parton, Priscilla Presley and, of course, Michael Jackson and Joan Rivers also represent extreme transformations.

"There's good surgery out there and then there is bad, at least in this town, but you just don't notice the good because those people look natural; they look rested," says Dr. Leslie Stevens, co-director of the Lasky Clinic in Beverly Hills.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, April 18, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Plastic surgery tips: In the April 15 Image section, an article about how to get better results from plastic surgery identified Dr. Francis Palmer as an otolaryngologist. Palmer is also a facial plastic surgeon.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, April 22, 2012 Home Edition Image Part P Page 2 Features Desk 1 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
Plastic surgery tips: An April 15 article about how to get better results from plastic surgery identified Dr. Francis Palmer as an otolaryngologist. Palmer is also a facial plastic surgeon.

For actors, having some work done can have unintended consequences.

"Jennifer Grey is a perfect example," says powerhouse casting director Victoria Burrows, a 30-year industry veteran. "She had that beautiful character nose that I think made her look pretty and then just a little nose tweak and that uniqueness went away. She became another pretty actress."

Burrows emphasizes that the majority of thespian work calls for character actors, not stars. "Character faces are fabulous -- it's what we always strive to cast," Burrows says. "But what we continue to see are extreme changes, with the lips, the eyes -- even with the men. It makes them look like they're surprised for months. We've had to veer away from certain actors for certain roles because they've had too much work done."

A poorly done cosmetic procedure may manifest as a look one sees see a lot in Los Angeles: that kind of overly puffy, trout-mouthed, robot-like-glaze of a Botox- and filler-injected face replete with frozen forehead and static smile lines. This look replaced the "wind-blown" face-lift look from the 1970s. Reality TV personality Heidi Montag -- notorious for, at age 23, having 10 surgeries in one day (including DDD breast implants) -- is just one of many celebrities (including Dana Delaney, Tori Spelling, Tara Reid, Kathy Griffin and Emmanuelle Beart) who've gone on record regretting cosmetic procedures. "If I could take it back, I would," Montag said in an interview on ABC News.

But for those contemplating having a procedure done, there are some ways to minimize the risk of surgery gone wrong, experts say.


Choose a qualified physician

Think twice before letting a gynecologist do your face-lift. This is not a joke. "Unfortunately, in most states any physician can say, 'I'm a plastic surgeon.' and do whatever they feel like doing in their office," says Dr. Malcolm Z. Roth, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

In California, a doctor performing plastic surgery must have a medical license but is not required to be certified by any particular board. But Roth recommends going to a surgeon who has hospital privileges, because that means he or she will have been vetted by professionals, and who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, one of the 24 groups that make up the American Board of Medical Specialties, or ABMS. Search for your doctor's name and specialized certification at

Other ABMS specialty-board certifications that may be appropriate for some procedures include dermatology, ophthalmology and otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat). Dr. Roth says that these doctors may be trained in various above-the-neck cosmetic procedures -- dermatologists, for instance, may inject fillers. "But take your time choosing and see at least three doctors, including a plastic surgeon. If what you need is a face-lift, getting filler may be throwing your money down the toilet," Roth says, noting "most people do more homework deciding which new car to buy."


Don't be swayed by bargains

A Groupon, free-consultation or other cut-rate deal isn't a good enough reason to choose a doctor.


Look for skill and artistry

"Just because someone is board-certified by the ABMS or another board doesn't guarantee that they're a good artist and that you'll have a good result," says Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Garth Fisher (the doctor who repaired Bruce Jenner's face).

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