Pairing Up for Plastic Surgery
Lauren-Beth Kassinger says that if she bought a pair of shoes that looked good on her, her mom would "go out and get the same thing." So it wasn't such a stretch, after Kassinger decided to get plastic surgery, that her mom, Elvia Rabinor, decided to do it, too.
According to 2005 statistics released by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, a specialty group for certified plastic surgeons who focus on the face, head and neck, 34% of those surveyed report that more people are getting plastic surgery with a companion. The pairings range from friends, sisters, husbands and wives, and mothers and daughters, to some more unusual cases.
"I had a divorced couple come in recently," says Jay Calvert, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, Calif. "I guess they wanted to get freshened up for the next experience."
The tandem surgery experience was just one trend among many that emerged in 2005 as Americans continued their love affair with plastic surgery.
Numbers gathered by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) show that in 2005 surgeons performed:
- More than 10.2 million cosmetic procedures, up 11% from 2004. Of those, the bulk (8.5 million) were minimally invasive procedures such as Botox injections and chemical peels. The rest were procedures such as liposuction and breast augmentation.
- More than 5.4 million reconstructive surgeries, such as laceration repairs and scar treatment, down 3% from 2004.
- A small number of so-called "fringe" surgery procedures. There were 793 vaginal rejuvenations, which repair damage caused by aging, childbirth or injury, or shape the vagina to match what a patient wants aesthetically; 542 buttock implants; 337 calf augmentations; 206 pectoral implants.
ASPS members are certified plastic surgeons. For their statistics, the group also surveyed doctors likely to perform plastic surgery.
Kassinger and her mother were seeking out relatively common nose reconstructions when they went shopping for surgery.
Kassinger, 31, who lives in Little Silver, N.J., says she always wanted to change her nose. A self-described "petite woman with smallish features," she says she never felt her long, thin nose fit her face. But, as a professional dancer, she couldn't take time off to recover. About two years ago, no longer dancing professionally, she decided to take the plunge.
She had read an article on facial plastic surgery expert Dr. Andrew Jacono, a plastic surgeon in Great Neck, N.Y., that interested her. So Kassinger went with her father, who lives in Bayside, N.Y., to visit Jacono. After the consultation, Kassinger says, she "couldn't stop raving about" the doctor.
Her parents are divorced. Her mother, 52, lives in Arizona. "My mother and I are very close, and we look a lot alike," Kassinger says. "I must have triggered something in her that made her feel like she wanted to have (her nose) done, too."
On a leap of faith, Kassinger's mother flew in to have surgery the same day.
The ASPS statistics show that 42% more women and 44% more men had cosmetic surgery in 2005 than in 2000. Doctors say several factors contributed to the increase.
For one thing, new techniques and technology have reduced scarring and recovery time, making the prospect of surgery more attractive.
"You can do a face lift now with tiny little incisions, about the size of a straw, in the scalp," says Jacono, who wrote a book, Face the Facts, about facial plastic surgery procedures. "That is not something that was an option years ago."
Doctors caution that not all minimally invasive procedures work.
"We're concerned about complications," says Joseph O'Connell, a plastic surgeon in Westport, Conn. "And we're concerned about effectiveness, and we're not sure about the longevity of results."
Another factor driving the growth of cosmetic surgery is a widespread change of attitude. People are no longer reluctant to talk about having work done, which leads to word-of-mouth business for doctors.
"It's a very different attitude than 10 or 15 years ago, when everyone kept it under the radar," says Ira Papel, president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
"People are doing it in groups now because it's not such a taboo," Jacono adds. "Everyone's doing it, so why not do it with a friend?"
Doctors say a benefit to couples having plastic surgery together is they can take care of each other. But some doctors don't like doing both surgeries on the same day. "I don't like to have them do it at the same time, because one helps care for the other during the recovery process," says Scott Chapin, a plastic surgeon in Doylestown, Pa.
For Kassinger and her mother, double surgery worked well. While bruising under their eyes healed and swelling lessened, the two women hunkered down at Kassinger's father's house, watching movies and E! True Hollywood Story episodes. "We saw, like, every character from 90210," she says.
Although Kassinger is happy with her new nose, she says she doesn't want any more major work done.
"A little Botox, possibly, as I get older, but major surgery, no," she says. "My mom is another situation. She might consider doing work because with her nose, she went through the process, and she saw how good that made her look."
Will they get work done together again?
"Next time she comes to New York, that might be a possibility."