Taking “star struck” to a whole new level
One of the many fascinations of Liberace’s life as portrayed in the HBO bio/drama “Behind the Candelabra” is his boyfriend’s, Scott Thorson’s, plastic surgery. The goal of Thorson’s rhinoplasty, chin implant and restructured cheekbones was to make him look as much like Liberace as possible.
Now, we find out that Thorson is not the only person who underwent surgery to mirror a star. Forty-nine year old Stacy Shanahan, Mission Viejo, California, looked somewhat like Heather Locklear but, as far as she was concerned, not enough. She underwent rhinoplasty that would alter her nose, so the Locklear resemblance would be more apparent. She said she would be happier if she looked more like Locklear.
Then there is forty-one year old Deborah Davenport, McKinney, Texas, who never asked to look like Cameron Diaz but was told she was a “dead ringer.” Davenport hated this comparison because she took it as if people were saying that her nose was too fat. To rectify the problem, Davenport decided that she wanted to look like Kate Winslet. Her plastic surgeon shaved cartilage from her nose, injected Botox into her forehead and around her eyes and plumped out her cheeks with Sculptra. Davenport is thrilled when she is told she looks like Winslet, a $15,000 transformation.
These are not isolated requests. A Dallas plastic surgeon tells the New York Times he gets requests, almost monthly, from patients who want to look like a friend or celebrity.
But these requests can be a minefield for doctors.
· First, plastic surgery can never replicate a celebrity appearance. The human face is just too complicated.
· Second, surgeons must separate out those patients who have a simple desire to change a feature from those patients who are unhealthily obsessed with an imagined or minor flaw, a condition known as body dysmorphic disorder.
· What are a plastic surgeon’s ethical responsibilities? What if a patient asks to look like a wild animal like the infamous Joyce Wildenstein? It is easy to die your hair blue and cover yourself with tattoos. What makes plastic surgery requests different?
Unusual requests frequently pose moral dilemmas. Hopefully, these surgery requests are made in the office of a surgeon who is board-certified in plastic surgery. Such a doctor will have the training and experience to handle the request with sensitivity, intelligence and in the patient’s best interests.