A STORY OF THE DARK SIDE OF COSMETIC SURGERY:
The Patients, The Surgeons, and The Business of Image Creation
Cosmetic surgery had its beginnings in the early 20th century, using techniques that evolved from the first two World Wars and the Viet Nam era. The ethics of medicine and surgery were different at that time. Advertising was looked down upon and surgeons were taught to become masters of their craft, slowly building their reputations by word of mouth in response to good results. Advertising changed everything and caught the attention of entrepreneurs. Many untrained doctors avoided the scrutiny of hospitals by performing extensive procedures in their offices, and deaths from cosmetic surgery became almost commonplace.
South Florida was the epicenter of this new phenomenon and if it weren’t so serious it would have been comical. The media accounts gave the impression they were holding tryouts for the Darwin Awards. Patients selected their surgeon, not on the basis of training, experience, reputation and expertise, but rather on their medical marketing campaign. This is a completely fictional account inspired by some of those true stories written by a renowned and highly respected plastic surgeon with a large practice of many years in South Florida, one of the top centers of plastic surgery in America.
Willy Johnson had it all: good looks, charm, chutzpah, money, and truth be told, he felt as if the world just didn't deserve him. He learned to make better than just a good living doing cosmetic surgery on women who were unwittingly willing and able to satisfy his perverted desires, and pay him for the privilege. Oh sure, there were those in Miami, his competitors who ran him down for his lack of training and talent, but he really didn't give a fuck. Life was good and getting better now that he had become the Medical Director of the fancy new spa owned by the Northcuts, where untrained surgeons could wreak their havoc without having to bother with training and credentials.
"No, Toto,” he muttered under his breath. "We’re not in Kansas anymore!"
DR. MYRON M. PERSOFF
Dr. Persoff was born and raised in south Florida and received his medical degree at the University of Miami. He joined the U.S. Navy, doing his internship and becoming a Flight Surgeon and Paramedic in Subic Bay, Philippines during the Viet Nam conflict. Later, he trained as a general surgeon, and then trained as a plastic surgeon with the world famous doctor Thomas D. Cronin, the inventor of the Silicone breast implant. His career in plastic surgery spanned 35 years in South Florida.
Amy Atwater was beautiful. An all-American girl, high school prom queen and cheerleader, not unused to being the center of attention. She was a bright, energetic, twenty year-old who enjoyed scuba diving in exotic locations and playing tennis at Daddy's country club. A breath taking beauty, the life of the party who grew up in Miami, Florida. Her friends were all beautiful, both the men and the women, especially since she worked as a graphic designer for a Miami "shiny sheet". Despite all of the attention she received regarding her looks, Amy felt she had “flaws". Deep- seated, undeniable, just plain ugly flaws. The kind that always stared back at her in the mirror. She carefully hid these flaws, as they were the kind that she believed could have made her only a member of the homecoming court instead of the queen. No amount of wheedling or cajoling, reassurances, psychotherapy, EST, chakra healing, recreational or prescription drugs, casual or tender sex could take them away. Her list of imaginary physical defects grew every time she looked into the mirror. Her forehead was wider than Liz's, her best friend, her eyes so far apart that she was practically looking at the back of her own head, ears that flapped like Dumbo, and a chin that stuck out like a shelf. She saw each and every flaw even when those around her were gracious enough to pretend they didn’t exist. She saw them. She knew. Of all her flaws, real or imagined, her breasts were her Achille’s Heel. “Why couldn’t I have breasts like my mother or my sisters?” she agonized. She had lived with the pain, shame, and embarrassment since she turned 13. She so looked forward to having full, round breasts, and as her “buds” started to grow, so did her excitement.
By fourteen, she covered up her breasts from her girl-friends and was the last to enter the gym showers at school. She cried when the other girls giggled and called her “B.B.” for “Banana Breasts”, even though she had perfect skin, a beautiful face, graceful body and long, sinewy legs, and perfect, shiny, straight hair. Nothing made up for what she perceived as disfigured breasts. Their shape was like a penis growing out of the center of a doughnut. And worse, one was much smaller than the other. Her mother took her to her pediatrician who told her it was a “congenital or developmental anomaly” known as Tuberous Breast, where the breast tissue herniates through the areolar skin. “Dear God”, she prayed. “I thank you for all you have given me, but couldn’t you make my breasts normal?” By the time she was sixteen, she knew that God had forgotten her prayers.
Amy stared in the mirror and frowned. The dress was perfect, of course, she had picked it and the new shoes up in a pilgrimage to Paris a few weeks ago and knew that the line hadn’t yet made it to the States, so she was sure to cause looks of envy from the others. She sighed resignedly,” no matter how pretty, a padded bra just isn’t sexy. but at least the pumped-up cleavage will distract everyone from the rest of my obvious flaws,” she declared solemnly. She studied her too-wide forehead and sighed. Compared to Liz Marshall she looked like a throwback from the Neolithic era. She had tried to tell Dr. Campbell about it but he wouldn't listen and told her that she was quite normal, proportional, and attractive, warning her against attempting to improve perfection. He seriously suggested she see a therapist.
"The fuck," she thought. "Are they now letting the blind do plastic surgery?" He had even given her a card for a referral to a shrink. Amy snorted; she had already seen several therapists and all of them were quacks. Each of them suggested she work on becoming happy with herself as she was, but she knew she would never be happy until her breasts were fixed. As she fixated on her other bodily flaws, the quest to have perfect breasts became an obsession.
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MORE BY DR. PERSOFF
A Primer for Medical Risk Management
Breast Augmentation: Principles and Practice
Innovations in Plastic Surgery: The Adjustable Breast Implant
This book was written as a concise guide to healthcare professionals to cope with the specter of a medical malpractice suit. Included is a glossary of terms and an examination with answers.
All aspects of breast augmentation are covered in this comprehensive guide. It is divided into sections that include anatomy, preoperative consultation, the varieties of implants with pocket positioning, the varieties of surgical procedures and approaches, complications, mammography and medical legal aspects.
Innovations in Plastic Surgery showcases the accomplishments and the creative spirit that typify the field of plastic surgery. With carefully selected authors and topics, this new series will provide plastic surgeons with the building blocks to enhance understanding and improve results.