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Taking a celeb photo to your plastic surgeon is a slippery slope – here's why
The most requested plastic surgery procedures might not be what's best for you

plastic surgery celebrity features

It would be easy to think that a person who walks into a plastic surgeon's office with a picture of Kim Kardashian, asking for one of her specific features is the best kind patient – confident, assured and knows exactly what they want. But in reality, those filtered snaps of overexposed celebrities often blur the line between fantasy and reality when it comes to beauty and plastic surgery.

So, what's better than taking a photo of your favorite celebrity to your plastic surgeon? We asked two renowned plastic surgeons and members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeon for their take on why you're better off leaving the celeb pics at home while providing more helpful alternatives.

Everyone ages

Celebrities are not impervious to the hands of time. In fact, a dead giveaway that someone has a great plastic surgeon on speed dial is when their face doesn't change over the years – because that's just not the way aging works.

"We all know that we lose volume as we age, and if you're maintaining the same volume or you're getting more volumized, that's not mother nature," says Washington D.C.-based plastic surgeon, Troy Pittman, MD. "You're not building collagen from the inside out."

Have a critical eye

We all want to live in an airbrushed reality where we look as good as our filtered photos – just without the filter. But most photos in magazines or on social media are altered in one way or another, be it Facetune, Photoshop or a lighting crew creating the absolute best illumination for your bone structure. Be skeptical even of the so-called natural or candid photos.

Many of Dr. Pittman's patients seeking a breast augmentation come in asking for Kristin Cavallari's chest, holding a photo of her romping on a tropical beach. "She's not too big, not too small and she's got a good shape to her breasts," says Dr. Pittman, adding that "upper pole fullness and good cleavage" are common traits that patients seek.

"Women are coming in saying, 'I want this cleavage' or 'I want these breasts' but like so many of the pictures they're showing, they're photoshopped or they're pictures of a person in a bathing suit, but not a bathing suit you wear when you're on vacation, it's a bathing suit they were photographed in where their breasts are probably duct-taped in," explains Dr. Pittman. "That's not even a real picture."

Yet, there can be value in showing your surgeon inspiration pictures, as it allows the surgeon "to get inside the patient's head" in order to understand the subtleties of their request.

"If patients are using words like 'I want to get rid of, I want to remove, I want to eliminate,' those are red flags," cautions New York City-based plastic surgeon, David Shafer, MD. "You can't use such absolute terms, like 'Get rid of this line.' You have to be happy with softening a line or improving a contour."

Your baseline anatomy can't be altered

"So much of our nose, jaw and chin are skeletal in nature," explains Dr. Pittman. "So, unless you're going to start moving bones around, that's kind of who you are."

In other words, he says, a patient with a wide ethnic nose who brings in a photo of Meghan Markle and "wants her cute little button nose" is likely bound for disappointment, regardless of how talented her surgeon is. "There's absolutely no way you're ever going to be able to achieve that based on the soft tissue envelope and the skeleton," he says.

Dr. Shafer adds that photo editing software can "make anybody look like anything" but "you can't do that surgically, or with the needle and injectables."

"One of the problems we've gotten into with celebrity and Instagram is that we've kind of made plastic surgery a picture book and patients feel like they can just say 'I want Bella Hadid's nose' and that somehow we can just deliver that, like we order them on Amazon and it gets delivered in 72 hours."

You may be asking for the wrong surgical procedure

Take the same photo of Kristin Cavallari, but this time, it's being shown by a mom who has breast ptosis, or sagging breasts, from breastfeeding. "These cute little implants and cleavage are not going to be you," says Dr. Pittman, adding that the more appropriate procedure for this patient would be a breast lift, not an implant.

"And maybe the patient is overweight, and I can't liposuction them enough to look like a Victoria's Secret model when you're overweight, you have extra skin and your breasts are sagging," he explains. "It's about having a realistic conversation and saying, this is what I can do on your body."

Consultations should be collaborative

Recently, both Drs. Shafer and Pittman are finding themselves devoting more time to consultations in order to align completely with their prospective patients.

Dr. Shafer says he's spending more time "talking about what's realistic and what's achievable," while Dr. Pittman believes the way patients, especially young ones, approach consults has become "very different" with an often-uncompromising vision.

"I had a girl in the office the other day who had no lips and she wanted Restalyn put in her lips for a full look," begins Dr. Pittman. "But she had a picture of Delila Rinna, Lisa Rinna's daughter, and she basically wanted something totally undeliverable."

Similar scenarios have played out in Dr. Shafer's practice, too. "I like to say, listen, we're not going to do everything in one day. We're going to spread it out over time and make subtle changes to maintain a natural appearance," says Dr. Shafer. "Instead of somebody wanting 20 syringes of something, it's more about coaching them to do a few now and then come back in a couple weeks and we'll do a bit more to slowly get you where you want. Think of it as painting a picture rather than spray painting a wall."

A patient's best option, according to Dr. Shafer, will always be to "go to a board-certified plastic surgeon and have a thorough consultation to address your specific goals and expectations, then have a conversation about what can be done for you."

To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.


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