Larry: How do you catch a unique rabbit?
Larry: Unique up on him!
Jenna: Blank stare.
Larry: How do you catch a tame rabbit?
Larry: The tame way!
Not. Even. Kidding.
OK, here’s another:
Jenna: Hey, do we have any clear suture?
Larry: Sure. For what?
Jenna: Oh, I’m going to have my dermatologist remove this beauty spot on my nose and he only has blue suture.
Larry: Incoherent yelling. It was like he caught me embezzling or something. Fragments I gathered between expletives included, “hideous scar,” and “commit hottie kitty.”
Not. Even. Kidding.
He was PISSED. The short of it is that I had wanted to remove this tiny beauty spot on my nose for no other reason than I didn’t like the way it looked. Larry, in his infinite wisdom, freaked the F out and pointed out that having a dermatologist (or anyone, really) mess with my nose in order to remove a beauty spot was stupid given the huge potential risk for scarring.
Needless to say, I still have the beauty spot, which Larry tells me adds character to my face.
So here you have the two sides of Plastic Surgery Larry (and probably most other plastic surgeons, too): the dark side presents itself in a few situations. These are not mutually exclusive and one often overlaps with another.
1. When he actually gives a rip. As in my example above, Larry was genuinely concerned that I would come to regret my decision. It wouldn’t affect him one way or the other, but he cared enough to tell me (albeit somewhat angrily).
2. When he is responsible. More times than I can count, patients have come to me hurt or upset because Larry scolded them. It could’ve been one of a million reasons ranging from testing positive for nicotine before surgery, to not wearing the ace bandage tight enough, to cuddling with pets after surgery causing rip-roaring infections. Surely, there was no malicious intent in any of these wrongdoings, but the severity of the potential consequences understandably warranted reprimanding in order to ensure it didn’t happen again. The surgeon holds all of the responsibility (legally).
3. When he is hurt or offended. This one’s tough. Plastic surgeons have big egos. They’ve got to in order to do what they do. They are not usually fragile because they’ve tolerated a considerable amount of criticism in order to get to where they are. I think what people forget is that surgeons are human, too. Most (I hope) can take the criticism on their work, their marketing, their style because in this business, you don’t survive unless you up your game. But when their values, ethics or morals are called into question – or they feel betrayed, I think that delivers a major blow.
In plastic surgery, the dark side is often inevitable. It’s surgery. It’s a big deal and for many, it’s uncharted territory. This is one example where, “better to ask forgiveness than permission” should not apply. Nevertheless, mistakes will be made. It’s best in these situations to take a minute to try and understand what things look like from the other person’s vantage point. Walk a mile in their shoes, as they say, before you judge.