Gloria Glam had a special request for the April issue – they asked me to talk to the best plastic surgeons in Los Angeles and find out about newest trends in plastic surgery. So welcome to Beverly Hills, the world’s epicenter of plastic surgery, where you feel like a second grade citizen if (as a woman) you're over 30 and haven't had "work done." The city of Beverly Hills has 35,000 inhabitants and 80 plastic surgeons. Just for comparison: the city of Los Angeles (not to be mixed up with greater Los Angeles, which includes Beverly Hills and Hollywood and Venice, etc.) has 3,9 million inhabitants and 47 plastic surgeons. This is where facelifts cost up to $150,000 (and that doesn’t include the operation room, the anesthesiologist, the recovery room and the nurse). 40% of patients come from foreign countries so they also book a room for recovery in one of the 5 stars hotels in Beverly Hills and a 24h nurse. Why are they so good, I ask one of the doctors and he explains there is no room for mistakes here – these surgeons operate on people whose whole existence depends on their faces, which are constantly only few inches away from the camera. According to Dr. Garth Fisher, one of the best of the best, 70% of stars have had work done (it sounds quite conservative to me, I’d bet on 90%). Dr. Andrew Frankel says he often reads an actress’ denial about having had work done - and she’s been on his table just few weeks earlier.
For me, the most interesting part of my research was the history of plastic surgery: first nose jobs have been mentioned in old Egyptian papyri, and Romans used to repair ears damaged in a battle. First breast surgery was done in mid 1800s, but the real birth of plastic surgery happened during WWI when surgeons tried to reconstruct solders’ ruined faces. Hollywood stars went under the knife already in the 1930s. Marilyn Monroe had a new chin and a new nose, Rita Hayworth a new forehead, Dean Martin a new nose. John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Gloria Swanson and Joan Crawford had face-lifts.
Americans LOVE plastic surgery! In 2016, 1,8 million of Americans have had plastic surgery and 15,5 million had minimally invasive work done (everything that doesn’t include cutting the skin like lasers, Botox, fillers).
So what did you learn, my friends ask me when I tell them about writing this story. I learned quit a few things.
First, I learned that women get work done at a much earlier age then ever before, and they often have a very distorted idea of their looks. Dr. Diamond (who is known from the show “Dr. 90210”, works together with his partner Dr. Champagne (this is Beverly Hills, baby!), looks like a movie star and frequently operates in Moscow, New York and Dubai) tells me the youngest face-lift he performed was on a 30-year old patient. Dr. Haworth, who became famous through “The Swan” is worried not only about girls getting under knife in their early twenties, but also about them consciously asking for artificial looks – lips that are too big, unnatural breasts, huge cheek bones. He blames screens, filters and Photoshop. Apparently, a twenty-something year old literally told him that he probably can’t see the problem she’s talking about when he sits a few inches away from her - but she can show it to him on her iPhone.
I also learned that the surgeons are actually worried about the rapidly increasing numbers of labiaplasty (39% in 2016.), especially because they often see 18-year old girls coming in for it (with their moms!). They blame pornography and sexting for this insantiy.
Every single surgeon told me the super trendy minimally invasive methods don’t actually work (still, they all offer them in their clinics – they are money printing machines as they can be preformed by their staff and have to be repeated every few months). Dr. Garth Fischer (who also looks like a movie star, and is the official plastic surgeon to the whole Kardashian clan, plus the most famous Playboy bunnies) told me that the most important thing is not new technology but a skilled surgeon. They all claim that going under the knife will often have a better effect, a permanent result and will cost less. All of them explained that there are three factors to aged skin: loss of volume, loss of elasticity and uneven surface. New face-lifts attack all three by including fillers (with own fat) and lasers. And they look more natural because they include many tiny incisions and not one big (which used to cause the wind-tunnel effect). Dr. Lesley Stevens tells me that the major problem with plastic surgery is that you only notice bad work - good work is literally unnoticeable. He will never try to erase all wrinkles; his goal is that even your best friends don’t notice you have had work done, but instead comment on how refreshed you look.
When I asked them about prevention, all of them agreed on using a vitamin-c serum beneath your moisturizer, and SPF (every day!). Dr. Haworth told me “The future is in the lab, under the microscope!“ - he hopes we'll soon develop technologies to prevent skin aging and make surgery obsolete. Dr. Ron Moy has an inside-out attitude. The first thing he will do is send his patient for a blood work and then prescribe supplements, including minerals, vitamins, herbs and bio identical hormones, to bring his patient’s blood back to normal levels and repair damaged DNA. He will also create an individual diet. He proudly tells me that this inside-out approach works so well that he has patients who gave up on the original idea of a face-lift.
But, as Dr. Haworth mentioned, the topic has its very dark sides. Not only are women more and more unhappy with their looks and start surgery earlier, psychologists have proven that the process is addictive. That’s what happens when we see distorted faces and ask “What was she thinking?” (see Meg Ryan). But there are even darker sides. The new trend of big butts caused deaths (all surgeons I spoke with will not perform a “Brazilian Butt Lift” because it’s too dangerous). Psychologists have proven a correlation between plastic surgery and suicide - people who get plastic surgery tend to be generally more unhappy, they claim. A big problem in Beverly Hills is self-medicating – people take all kinds of antidepressants, antianxiety medication and painkillers which they don’t report to their doctor. This can end fatally. The case that shocked Hollywood most was a lady who jumped off her surgeons building after her face-lift. Effects of anesthesia? Depression? We’ll never know. As Hollywood Reporter concluded in their story, “some things can’t be fixed with a scalpel.”