Monday, October 18, 2010

Plastic way, Jose!

I took Hayley to the dermatologist today. I asked our family doctor for a referral to a "regular" dermatologist, one who didn't see dollar signs on your flawed skin as soon as you walked through the door. Let's just say she failed miserably! My first clue came when I received a confirmation email from an "aesthetic and surgery center" and thought, WTF? I did not make an appointment at any such place. However, I recognized the doctor's name so I called to clarify. "Oh yes!" the receptionist assured me "Dr. V is a dermatologist who also specializes in aesthetic procedures." Hmmm........well, ok, if you say so.

We arrived on time to the swanky, glass and marble "office" in a trendy nearby town and began filling out forms. I spotted a photo album labeled "before and after" on the (probably imported tropical wood) waiting room table, and began to open it just as the "nurse" led us back to the examining room. The room was outfitted with a leather reclining examination chair, a "bar" of sorts with two stools facing a huge mirror, and many attractive displays of lotions and potions designed, I'm guessing, to take years off one's skin. While we waited for Dr. V I decided to leaf through the "before and after" book. Oh. My. God. First of all, it was porn, pure and simple...naked photos of boob jobs, butt jobs, and everything in between. And they were not attractive. Not even the after photos. Each photo explained what procedure had been done. Some photos were hard to distinguish between "before" and "after". Some were not so hard - like the boob enhancement of saggy, stretch-marked boobs that were augmented to be not-so-saggy, large, stretch-marked boobs. Some faces had been treated to some type of procedure that was photographed in stages. Day 3 was horrifying. These people looked like the crypt keeper - skin literally peeling off their faces. In fact, it appeared their entire face was peeling off. Disgusting!

I paid particular attention to the liposuction photos. Because what woman, really, has not fantasized about having a giant surgical vacuum suck all their fat off, leaving them with the flat belly and taut thighs of a seventeen year old supermodel? Well, I'm here to tell you it's not that glamorous. Where women once had large bellies or cottage cheese thighs, there remained the exact same appearance only a tiny bit smaller. All I could think of was how much these procedures must have cost. For thousands of dollars, people will allow an "aesthetic" surgeon to suck fat, inject collagen, lift brows, and end up looking like.........well, pretty much the same person. Sure, a few pounds of fat sucked off might make your jeans fit better, but I've seen the photos, honey, and naked you still look like crap!

Which brings me to my point. Why? Why manipulate your body in such a manner? It's surgery and it's not pretty. Smooth, taut skin and a flawless complexion are gifts bestowed upon very few lucky humans and no amount of plastic surgery can replicate it. So, why even bother?

Now, I'm 5 feet, two inches and I wear a size 16. I'm not small by any means, and I could certainly lose 20 or 50 or 75 pounds and make myself smaller. And I do try to eat healthy and exercise and I want to be a healthy weight because, well, it's healthier! I want my cholesterol to be in the normal range and my blood sugar to be steady and all those good things. My skin is not flawless. There's a little redness I'd like to have zapped away, and maybe a few age spots I'd like to disappear. But not bad enough to watch my  face peel off in layers for days. Not enough to remove one "flaw" on my body and be left with another flaw in the shape of a scar. I have stretch marks on my belly - because I had babies! I have back fat and cankles and what I affectionately call "elephant knees" but I cannot imagine going "under the knife", as it were, to change those things. I'm not all that excited about walking a bazillion miles or doing countless hours of yoga to reshape my body and "fix" my flaws, but at least I'll get the heart-healthy cardio benefits and be flexible - two things the aesthetic surgeon cannot gift me through surgery.

Like any woman, I have a love/hate relationship with my body and I spend many hours loathing and bemoaning the state of my being. But I know that all the bumps and ridges and marks and imperfections on my body are a roadmap of my life. From the chicken pox scars to the post-surgical laproscopic incision scars,  from the cottage cheese thighs to the adult acne, I'm as flawed as the next person. But I'd rather take my family on a vacation to Disneyland or frolic on the beaches of Hawaii than spend thousands of dollars plumping my lips or sucking the fat under my chin. The procedure in the "before" and "after" book that seemed to get the most coverage was the "brow lift". It made the recipients look permanently surprised. Or maybe that was just the look on their faces when they got the bill.

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