The Twin paradox
You are sitting in your surgeon’s office having nice and informative conversation about your upcoming, non-emergency, gallbladder surgery. Near the end of your consultation, you make a special request – you ask the surgeon to make the incision in a shape of a star fish just because you are very attracted to these sweet creatures since childhood. You are not surprised when the doctor politely explains why he must refuse your request.
This kind of response would be expected from any respectable and caring physician who is concerned about your safety and well being rather than perform body modification that could later be questioned on the ethical grounds.
Now, a slightly different scenario. You discuss with your surgeon a face lift you are about to have and request an oversized chin implant plus lips that match your biceps size. In response your doctor gives you several reasons why Saturday is not the best day for surgery.
In both examples the doctor is a surgeon, both have the same number of years in medical school and post-graduate training. In this regard they are twins. Both patients make a very similar request during consultation. And yet, the responses are very different. Why aren’t they a subject to the same expectations? Why unacceptable in the first case becomes a triviality in the second? Sort of a Twin Paradox.
We live in age where nothing seems to shock anymore. We have even accepted the most bizarre products of medicine as a part of our contemporary life. Alien and artificial body modifications are not unusual anymore; we see them on TV, in magazines and on the streets. The shock value indicator has moved down. But, the purpose of this writing is not about our response to these excesses. The question one may ask is Why?
Here are few known examples:
The results of multiple indiscriminate surgeries, implants and filler injections that converted the natural human faces into shapeless masses of soft tissue hanging on the bony structures and “reinforced” by fillers including permanent injectable silicone. Butchery certified!
Here you have two of many examples of “cosmetic” lip enhancements.
Lip enhancement on industrial scale. Licensed mockery of aesthetics!
Similar examples surround us almost everywhere so it is not easy to find an example that would stand out for its peculiarity. Perhaps this one : it is the case that comes from the most unlikely place, France, where strong aesthetic convictions and natural looks defy any other trends. The case is bizarre for many reasons.
Two highly educated brothers, one with a doctorate in Theoretical Physics, the other with the same degree in Mathematics. In addition to their brilliant minds and scientific work the twins produced a popular science-fiction TV series. Soon, they became a positive, intellectual fixture in French TV pop culture.
Twin brothers Igor and Garish Bogdanoff – popular TV heart-throbs in France
With a passing time, two brothers became interested in “rejuvenation”. At the peak of their great careers, the twins fell in love with Plastic Surgery. After few procedures they became obsessed with progressive modification of their features which, regrettably, found a support in obliging and pragmatic doctors. Multiple surgeries later (the word “surgery” somehow doesn’t fit its intuitive meaning) the good – looking twins morphed into a living mix of Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson and Toy Story characters.
Igor and Grishka today. Enhanced.
These two brothers, on one hand, intellectually gifted scientists with great careers firmly set in a world full of reason, on the other the slaves to anti-science, anti-aesthetics and fake reality. A Twin Paradox.
One could not overlook the amount of work involved in shaping every inch of these good-looking-no-more faces…a work that does not indicate excessive sense of beauty, profound finesse nor artistic curiosity. And yet, most of the Cosmetic Surgeons consider themselves, and advertize themselves, as professionals with exceptional artistic talents; talents we have a chance to “admire” on TV screens and pages of magazines in long parades of “well- done”celebrities.
What are our most common, instinctive feelings when faced with the “faced to the limit” ? Puffed cheeks, inner-tube lips, extra tight stretched faces with ripples and tension lines, faces that do not indicate even a casual knowledge of human anatomy, motionless faces without detectable expression or thought, faces that look detached from the rest of the body, the faces that give us the impression reminiscent of the first visit to circus, wax museum or budget horror movie. Faces you want to touch to make sure they are real.
What is our first impression when looking at the Bogdnoff twins images? Our immediate and automatic response is to criticize, demean and blame the owners of those humanoid facial alterations. Unfortunately, all too often we do not see far beyond the superficiality. But, is it fair to put the blame squarely on them?
Mind you, the brothers didn’t modify their faces themselves in the privacy of their living-rooms, on Saturday evening, casually listening to the remake of Brahms Lullaby by Eminem while working on the Theory of Everything!. I have a suspicion that a doctor, or perhaps two, more or less famous Cosmetic Surgeons with certified and re-certified skills were involved in the process of “beautification” .
For the sake of fairness, it is the doctor who deserves the bulk of our criticism for crossing the boundaries of the medical profession; a doctor who made a playground out of seriousness of the patient-doctor relationship. We should take an aim also at those who continuously grant them the privilege of being physicians and maintaining their medical license.
The most common response I hear is that patient had requested these modifications so doctor simply obliged. And yet, a surgeon from any other surgical specialty would never, ever, consider patient’s frivolous request out of respect to medical profession, ethics and patients well being. Unfortunately, many Cosmetic surgeons do no subscribe to these professional basics and are allowed to continue their questionable craft.
One more example to make a different point. This time the facial alteration was performed not by a physician but an individual legally licensed to practice body modification, a person who obtained a certification similar to tattoo artists. In this case a custom designed doughnut-shaped implant was inserted under the forehead skin.
Face modification with subcutaneous implants done by a non-physician
The above modification was performed not by a doctor . Is this case any more shocking than the earlier examples of extreme facial distortions created by a licensed and certified doctor who spent years studying medicine, enduring long residencies and fellowship trainings? I submit to you that the “shock value” and aesthetic outcome of both is of the same magnitude! It means, there are only two real possibilities : either this non-physician is extremely talented or the Cosmetic doctor has no talent at all.
Some time ago I was curious about any possible motivations of those physicians who perform medically sanctioned body distortions. I was hoping to find the reasons explaining what could possibly induce a doctor to destroy the innate beauty of human body? What would it take, other than obvious lack of talent, for those who traditionally pride themselves in holding the key to the only remaining artistic and aesthetic aspect of Medicine, to mass produce distortions and ugliness? What instincts could prevail in denying reason?
Going from the basics of human psychology to the deepest and darkest nooks of sociopathic minds and tormented souls, I realized that my search was a time wasted and the answer was too obvious to consider. There are no enigmatic motives behind, no convoluted psychological reasons, no cosmic explanations or artistic arguments to justify creating facial deformities. There is one, and only one, reason. Money! Nothing else but a primordial thirst for money!
Should a medical professional, aka a doctor, be allowed to modify one’s body on-demand? Why the Cosmetic Medicine, as the only subspecialty in the entire field of Medicine, is not held to the same medical and ethical standards of evidence-based and outcome-based medical practice? Should they be allowed to practice their trade without restrictions even though they were granted a license and board certifications? Give me a reason why they should and I will give you ten why they shouldn’t!
You may say I bring up only the worst examples and dismiss many great results of talented Cosmetic practitioners. Granted, there are many wonderful examples of truly artistic surgical hands, yet, if you claim to own the good you must also own the bad. No other way around!