Video: Plastic Surgery A Good Career Move?

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updated 2/20/2006 4:02:44 PM ET 2006-02-20T21:02:44

The newest trend out there is plastic surgery to help people climb the corporate ladder.  When you think of plastic surgery, you think of really pretty movie stars and aging nightclub singers, and talk show hosts. 

But, more and more, people are opting to go under the knife as a way to get ahead at the office.  If your features start to droop, the theory is, your career will go sour. 

Why do people take such desperate measures to get ahead?  Joe Scarborough was joined by Dr. Anthony Griffin.  He is a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills and star of “Extreme Makeover” and Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist. 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, 'SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY':  Dr. Griffin, tell me, what‘s going on in our culture, where so many people are deciding to get plastic surgery to help themselves get ahead in the workplace? 

DR. ANTHONY GRIFFIN, “EXTREME MAKEOVER”:   Well, we‘re in a competitive, youth-oriented, visual world right now.  And everybody needs every little edge they can get.  And so people are starting to turn to plastic surgery. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How common is it? 

GRIFFIN:  Well, it‘s quite common. 

Actually, the statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has shown that, over the last couple of years, men have been actually one of the fastest-growing groups of getting plastic surgery. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Robi, what‘s going on here, with more and more Americans deciding to—to go under the knife to make themselves look younger, better, hotter? 

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST:  I think, in part, we have advanced technologies, which is making it more available to people and safer for people. 

The other thing is the Hollywood effect.  I mean, we‘re comparing ourselves—instead of comparing ourselves to beautiful people in our family or beautiful people who live down the street, we are actually comparing ourselves to billboards and—and visions of beauty that are probably altered by cosmetic surgery.

So, when people look at these images, they tend to look at themselves differently in a more negative way.  So, we‘re comparing ourselves to an anatomical anomaly, if you will. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Sort of the Barbie complex.  Little girls get Barbies when they‘re young, and, at a very early age, have this image of what a woman is supposed to look like that‘s really next to impossible to live up to. 

How negative is that, Doctor, to have that self-image? 

GRIFFIN:  It can be quite negative.

And, of course, we actually screen patients to be sure that they‘re psychologically ready for this and this is not a whimsical thing.  A lot of the things that have happened, in terms of explosion of technology, has been without the knife.  There‘s been fillers, collagen, Restylane, lasers.  So, a lot of these technologies don‘t even actually involve a surgical procedure.

And, so, I think a lot of it is driven by the fact that there‘s been this amazing explosion of different modalities to treat aging. 

LUDWIG:  Well, that‘s—I mean, that‘s true.

And also there‘s this fear of aging and what does it mean.  and the fact of the matter is, still in our society, the story that we tell ourselves is that, if you‘re aging, then you‘re invisible.  And so if you want to be competitive and well received in the workplace, there is something to be said about being as beautiful as you can be.  People who are attractive or perceived as attractive are seen as having more positive qualities, being smarter.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Robi, Robi, that‘s not just with modeling; that‘s not just with TV; that‘s not just with acting.  You‘re saying that‘s with just about any business that you‘re in, right? 

LUDWIG:  Absolutely.

And we know this even in the classroom, how beautiful children are sometimes more popular  perceived as more intelligent.

So, this is nothing new, the desire to look more beautiful.  I guess it‘s just manifesting in a slightly different way because of medical technology. 

GRIFFIN:  Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH: We go beyond modeling.  We go beyond acting, TV.  Would you agree that plastic surgery is going to help just about anybody in any professional field they go into? 

LUDWIG:  Well, it really does. 

And one of the things—I think of plastic surgery in two phases.  One is the vanity surgery, where somebody who‘s attractive, they want to be more attractive.  And I think that‘s what we traditionally think of when we think of plastic surgery.

But then there‘s what I call self-esteem surgery, people who have a distraction or something that doesn‘t allow you to focus on them or what they have to say.  And I think that‘s where we are seeing the biggest increase.

Somebody has a big nose or a bunch of bags underneath their eyelids, where, you know, they give off the signal that maybe they‘re not as energetic or perhaps they‘re not as ambitious as some younger—younger co-worker.  So, I think that—building self-esteem can be achieved through plastic surgery. 

Now, it‘s not the only thing.  You still have to do the inside work, but, certainly, there‘s a—a place for surgery on the outside. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, so, Dr. Ludwig, help me out here.  OK, I have got a big nose.  I was born with a big nose.  It‘s the first thing people see when I walk into a room, if they‘re looking at me.  When—when should I decide to get my nose cut down to size a bit? 

LUDWIG:  I think you look fabulous just the way you are. 

SCARBOROUGH:  God bless you.

GRIFFIN:  I would agree, Joe.  I think he looks great.

LUDWIG:  But, you know, it‘s very interesting you bring up this point, because many men, according to the studies, will look at themselves in the mirror and say, you know what?  I look pretty good. 

So, women tend to be much harder on themselves, in terms of the looks department, because I guess it‘s more important to a female‘s sense of success, that she looks good.  Listen, if you...

GRIFFIN:  That‘s true.

But, also, females are—are the hardest on them.  I mean, it‘s not men being hard on women.  It‘s really like...

LUDWIG:  Oh, no, I wasn‘t saying that.  I was thinking, you know, for men, to be gorgeous, it‘s not that essential for them to be successful. 

But, you know, I think the important thing here is, if you feel that you can make yourself better, and you have a mentally healthy attitude, and you say, listen, I would like to make this change.  I realize it‘s not going change the rest of my life, I will just feel better, then, hey, there‘s nothing wrong with that. 

GRIFFIN:  And that‘s the best candidate. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, you know, Robi, that‘s the point—that exactly the point I was hoping you were going to make.  There are so many people out there that go back and forth.  Should they get plastic surgery or not?  If their happiness depends on it, it seems to me, that‘s a problem. 

But if they want to do it just to make themselves feel better, and it‘s safe, I don‘t see what the harm is. 

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