Driving through Beverly Hills, it’s hard not to notice the sheer number of plastic surgeons in the area. As a result, it’s natural enough to wonder how they can all stay in business. Are there that many people who need the services of a plastic surgeon? The short answer is yes, absolutely, but in order to really understand that answer we need to first understand who it is that needs plastic surgeons.
The first people we think of when they think of plastic surgery patients are, of course, the people who go in for cosmetic or aesthetic reasons. People who, as they get older, find themselves unhappy with what time and age have done to their appearance. People who have a pronounced, natural asymmetry in some aspect of their body that causes them to appear abnormal. People with body parts that, aesthetically speaking, falls outside of the accepted norms for beauty.
These people go to the plastic surgeon for facelifts, tummy tucks, breast enhancements, and liposuction so that they can feel better about their appearance. These people have valid, legitimate reasons for wanting plastic surgery. Psychologists have long acknowledged the importance of self image on both our quality of life, and our ability to function effectively within society. For people with self image issues as a result of abnormal physiology, plastic surgery can be life-changing.
This brings us to a group of people we think of less frequently when thinking plastic surgery. This is the group of people who have suffered some sort of injury. Perhaps they were in a car accident and have suffered extensive scarring as a result. Perhaps they were caught in a fire and have lost significant functionality in a hand, or have visible, disfiguring burns. This group also includes those who have suffered some sort of disfigurement as a result of a disease. Perhaps a woman who has lost a breast to cancer.
A good plastic surgeon is as concerned with the reconstructive aspect of his discipline as he is with the aesthetic one, and all of these people have need of those skills. A plastic surgeon can help minimize, or possibly even completely remove those scars. A reconstructive surgeon can help restore functionality to that hand, and to minimize the visibility of those burns. A surgeon like Dr. Liu, who specialized in breast reconstruction of cancer survivors, can help restore a sense of femininity, a sense of humanity, to a woman who has already been through more than anyone should have to endure.
Once we realize the number and variety of people who might need plastic surgery, it becomes more understandable why there are so many plastic surgeons, and why they are so busy.