Narcissism Might be Dangerous to Your Derma

Visiting the Plastic Surgeon got under my skin!

I went to see a plastic surgeon a few weeks ago at the Lake Forest Medical facility to get several of my moles evaluated. That was my first visit to a plastic surgeon. However, my original visit regarding several moles occurred years ago, involved a dermatologist who, not surprisingly, had the same zip code as my plastic surgeon. For those who are unaware, many Lake County residents may say that appearance and superficiality in Lake Forest and along the North Shore are a prerequisite for living in those communities.

My visit to this plastic surgeon was unique and surreal. There were brochures and pictures on the walls of young, beautiful men and women. I’m not against looking good but at what inconvenience and financial cost? I guess if money is no object, one’s perspective might change. As I waited for my office visit, several affluent looking women appeared to be around 65 or so but perhaps wanted aging to stand still. Perhaps they hated wrinkles more than the dandelions that appeared in their yard in the spring. I suspected we were waiting for different services.

As I made my way into his office, my intrigue intensified as I saw a large painting of my plastic surgeon on the wall. Mind you, it wasn’t a portrait anyone would miss. Quite revealing and made me wonder in a snarky manner, would his home be decorated to include at least one mirror in each room? In addition, if you were blindfolded and lead into this examination room with that painting on the wall, how long would it take to deduce this facility’s primary focus is cosmetic and superficial?

Gazing at this painting, I was tempted to mention to him that perhaps there should be captions above the painting saying, “example of narcissism,” see below. I hope that plastic surgeon never gets too close to a reflecting pond – drowning might wrinkle his appearance.

Enough digressing, as I mentioned earlier, my visit had to do with moles. This surgeon recommended removing no more than three or so per visit. Considering I still had at least half a dozen to content with, I would be making at least two separate trips.

What is it about my experience with dermatologists and plastic surgeons? Through informal and anonymous medical channels, word has it that dermatologists only wanted to remove 3-4 moles at a time? A dermatologist candidly told me one time that approach is pure economics. Most of these dermatologists and plastic surgeons have figured out the system, understanding how medical insurance works so only remove a few at a time. That appears to be the sweet spot minimizing their time involved and maximizing payment. Does customer service come into play here? I suspect service to his customers is much lower on his agenda. When a patient has six or so smaller moles and the plastic surgeon decides to just remove half of those per visit, is not something wrong with that approach?

Toward the end of the evaluation, this plastic surgeon glared at an earlier scar from another surgery; I suspected what he was thinking. He asked me, “Who did this procedure?” I certainly did not want to say as I suspected his intent – this question penetrated my skin. Was he asking on my behalf or his?

He went on to say, “This surgeon did a lousy job” as I’m sitting there thinking, “I never thought the scar looked bad but if my surgeon says so, who am I to argue.” He’s the one with all those fancy diplomas on his wall and a painting to show he’s still relevant. He said he could do much better to avoid an obvious scar. Is this a bloody skin competition among plastic surgeons on the North Shore? He may have perfected the art of skin procedures but his comments and actions indeed penetrated my skin.

Professionalism? What does that mean to him? Does style trump substance when it comes to him or certain plastic surgeons? Such an unnerving experience regarding my last visit. I’m wondering if others have had similar experiences with plastic surgeons or were my visits unique to skin doctors in Lake Forest?