With a busy plastic surgery practice, 6000 applicants hoping to get on his E! Network TV show “Botched,” 4000 more vying for a space on the series spin-off, “Botched By Nature,” and a new book on anti-aging treatments he’s cosigned with his wife, Real Housewives of Orange County’s Heather Dubrow, you could safely state that Dr. Terry Dubrow has his hands full.
Having learned a thing or two from the plastic surgery experiences documented on his 2004 TV series, “The Swan,” over the course of a recent interview at the Television Critics Press Tour the veteran physician acknowledged, among other crucial factors surrounding cosmetic surgery, the very real challenges – and risks – of performing revisional procedures.
Unlike “The Swan,” with “Botched” Dubrow aims to illustrate how his patients got themselves in trouble in the first place. “We want to tell cautionary tales of plastic surgery experiences as well,” he notes. “Something I like to point out is how plastic surgery is often regarded as being as safe as having your hair and nails done, when in fact it can be quite dangerous. We want people to understand that when you choose to undergo plastic surgery, you’re potentially taking on some very serious risks. Certain cosmetic surgery procedures can be as serious as cardiac or brain surgery, so we feel a responsibility to educate the public.”
Ready for prime time
Dubrow says he initially had concerns about the premise of the series being appropriate for television. “The complication rate of primary plastic surgery patients who’ve never undergone plastic surgery is roughly 5 to 7 percent, and with revisional plastic surgery, it’s as high as 20 to 40 percent. But with the patients featured on “Botched,” because their cases are so drastic and risky, those numbers can reach 40 to 50 percent. Which got me thinking, ‘really? Do I want to show us actually failing on national television?”
Dr. Dubrow with his wife Heather and Botched partner Dr. Paul Nassif
Dubrow says those figures encouraged him to take a good look at his own patients’ complication rates with revision procedures. “We started thinking, ‘you know what?’ Even if it involves displaying our complications, we won’t hide anything. It’s too important that people understand – plastic surgery is real surgery.”
Board certification: choose your surgeon wisely
Having the right plastic surgeon is crucial, insists Dubrow. “We always offer a list of the most important questions to ask your doctor. To my mind, the first thing you want to ask any cosmetic surgeon you’re considering is: ‘are you allowed to do this surgery in a hospital? Do you have hospital privileges to do this procedure?’ If they say yes, that means they’re board certified, which is a good place to start. People need to understand that 50 percent of cosmetic surgeries performed in this country are done by non-board certified surgeons who actually have no specific training in plastic surgery. What’s worse,” adds Dubrow, “is it’s not illegal.”
People need to understand that 50 percent of cosmetic surgeries performed in this country are done by non-board certified surgeons who actually have no specific training in plastic surgery.
Many of the people who appear on “Botched” have clearly pushed their bodies’ boundaries, which is why it’s so important to know when enough is enough. According to Dr. Dubrow, “When you can tell that plastic surgery procedures have been done, you’ve done too much. Either that or they were done improperly, with the inevitable complications. Plastic surgery should always look natural. You shouldn’t be able to tell someone has had work done. It’s that ‘doesn’t exist in nature’ look that you want to avoid.”
Cosmetic surgery is business: big business
You can’t always count on your cosmetic surgeon to tell you when you’ve had enough. “Unfortunately, plastic surgery is a business,” notes Dubrow. “You go into a typical plastic surgeon’s office asking for a procedure and he’s going to say ‘yeah, let’s do it,’ because he needs to pay his overhead.”
Dubrow says he often turns down young people who come into his office looking to have work done, as he avoids performing cosmetic surgery on anyone until they’re at least twenty one years old. “It’s interesting” he says, “because there are certain plastic surgery procedures we’ve traditionally accepted as being okay for children. For example, ears at age five, because otherwise the child is going to be teased; same thing with noses or congenital deformities at age fifteen or sixteen. But now, because of pop culture and things like young starlets randomly getting lip injections, we’re sort of blurring the lines of when it is and isn’t okay to have plastic surgery.”
You go into a typical plastic surgeon’s office asking for a procedure and he’s going to say ‘yeah, let’s do it,’ because he needs to pay his overhead.
Dubrow says many of the surgeons who comprise The American Society of Plastic Surgery these days believe it’s acceptable to do a lip filler procedure on a sixteen year-old child. “Whereas five years ago, before the reality television craze made it popular, these same professionals would have said absolutely not. I still think it’s not okay.”