My eyesight is perfect, but sometimes I see blurry lines. I don’t mean the lines of newsprint in my newspaper, or the lines in the plastic surgery journals that I read. I mean the lines between boundaries that separate the sub-disciplines of plastic surgery. I mean the lines between what we think we believe, to be true, and reality as others around us see it. Last week at the White Party, a fashion show fundraising event for my hospital’s breast reconstruction program, I ran into a former cosmetic breast augmentation patient of mine. She is a beautiful, talented, young and vibrant woman who was helping out with the show.
We chatted briefly about how much she had struggled in the past with low self esteem, poor body image, depression, and a long-standing sense of just not being at peace with her own body. She told me about how the transformation of her body through breast augmentation had actually transformed her outlook on life. She told me she was happy.
While standing in the middle of a bustling breast reconstruction fund raising event, I told her that the kind of language she was using was normally what we hear from our breast cancer reconstruction patients, and not from young cosmetic patients like her.
She paused, looked me squarely in the eye, (squarely in the heart, actually), and said “Well, you reconstructed my emotions”.
In four years of medical school, seven years of residency and 13 years in practice, no one ever told me a simple cosmetic procedure, one that I do hundreds of times a year, could reconstruct someone’s emotions. Imagine that.
I thought that the lines were blurry because conceptually, maybe aesthetic surgery and reconstructive surgery have more in common than I believed. But in fact, the lines are blurry because of the tears that beautiful young woman brought to my eyes.