The Identity a Plastic Surgeon Sees

Dr. Jay Burns.

Attaining a true sense of oneself is something most people struggle with and unfortunately, something that is becoming increasingly problematic

Aaron Kheriaty, an associate professor of psychiatry and the head of Medical Ethics at University of California, Irvine, shines light on the concept of a healthy identity in his article, “Dying of Despair.”

He shares that smartphones have added to our already misguided sense of identity as we have become more self-absorbed, isolated, and are now comparing our lives to the “perfect” lives portrayed on social media.

Unfortunately, in the world of plastic surgery, false identities are something every plastic surgeon encounters all too often.

Recently, I was having a consultation with a woman in her early 40s about facial concerns that were troubling her.

To say she was overly critical about her appearance would be an understatement.

She was one of the most fit and attractive women you could meet – at any age. We are all hard on ourselves, but in her case, it was as if she really could not see herself.

In the early years of my practice, I would be polite and figure a way to gracefully decline being her surgeon, knowing that she was seeking an unachievable outcome.

[pullquote-left]“How others find their value is their own journey, but it must be processed in a healthy manner, devoid of false narratives, untruths, or abuse.”[/pullquote-left]

Over time, I began to consider that I was missing an opportunity to make a difference in patients’ lives thus, so I transitioned to a different approach that has been both telling and rewarding.

As I continued to sympathetically listen to my patient’s distorted and unfavorable self-assessment, I countered with something I don’t think she was expecting.

I shared with her that I didn’t see her the way she did. While not knowing her past, I felt as though someone in her life tried to convince her that she was not good enough or didn’t measure up in some way.

Regardless of who was delivering such false narratives, the messages she was hearing were lies and no procedure could correct that.

Almost immediately, tears began spilling over her cheeks.

Unfortunately, this emotional response has been the norm when I have confronted this scenario head on.

Patients and friends often ask me if they “need” plastic surgery. I always respond that such a need is the same as the need to wear make-up, buy a particular home, or drive a certain car.

This is an individual decision, and people have strong opinions on the subject.

However, there are many great, legitimate reasons to have cosmetic surgery.

If managed with a healthy identity, the journey can be both rewarding and valuable.

My identity is found solely in the certainty that God loves and values me.

How others find their value is their own journey, but it must be processed in a healthy manner, devoid of false narratives, untruths, or abuse.

Dr. Jay Burns, a board-certified plastic surgeon, has practiced plastic surgery in the Park Cities and Dallas for more than 30 years. Visit drjayburns.com