Harvey Austin
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Cosmetic Surgery is More Than Skin Deep


by Harvey W. Austin, MD


spacer gifAs a plastic surgeon specializing in cosmetic surgery, I have often wondered how our specialty fits into traditional medicine. I have concluded that it doesn't — at least not easily. Traditional medicine asks the question "What's wrong?" and "How do I fix it?" But these questions are inappropriate for cosmetic surgery. The patient is not sick. One doesn't need cosmetic surgery like one might need an appendectomy. Cosmetic surgery addresses something else. Although I know what it is, I don't have a word for it.

spacer gifImagine — a whole specialty whose members spend their lives treating something unnamed — yet something worth spending their lives treating. If we did have a word for it, its definition would be: An appropriate concern that one's outer appearance match one's inner being. The word we're using is harmony. Cosmetic surgery creates harmony between one's inner and outer selves — as when you look as young and fresh as you feel down inside. Some examples:

before photoafter photo

"I didn't look as young as I felt inside." …Helen

spacer gif"One day, while looking in the rear-view mirror, I noticed I had a double chin and heavy eyelids, and I didn't look as young as I felt inside." It is very common for our patients to tell us that their mirrored-image does not reflect their inner youth. Sometimes, as in Helen's case, this realization comes quickly, and sometimes more gradually.

spacer gifYet when that "threshold" is crossed, cosmetic surgery can make a powerful difference in not only one's appearance, but also one's inner well being. The goal at the Austin-Weston Center is to make the magic of that transformation as beautifully as possible. As Helen now says, "I look like me again!"

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"I always wanted to be pretty" …JoAnn

spacer gifJoAnn is an accomplished executive who has climbed to the top rungs of the corporate ladder. Always unhappy with her appearance, she decided to do something about it. She finally realized that the way she looked was up to her — and she had the courage to change it. JoAnn came to the Austin-Weston Center and underwent face and neck lift including lifting of her upper and lower eyelids, lips, and the corners of her mouth.While the photos demonstrate a beautiful physical change, they also show the magnificent inner shift which accompanied it. Look again. Look in JoAnn's eyes. Look at her posture. Although everyone knows that inner beauty is more important that physical beauty, we've come to recognize that the two are linked. And that improving one's appearance often allows one's true inner beauty to shine through.

"People always thought I was tired" …Cathy

spacer gifSymbols: Bags beneath the eyes say tired. Droopy eyebrows say angry. And a downturned mouth says unhappy. Just symbols. But these symbols often misrepresent and can affect the way one really feels. "People always thought I was tired because of my eyes," says Cathy. "After a while, I was convinced I was tired!" Removing the symbols (the heavy eyelids and bags in Cathy's case) eliminates the misrepresentation, and "wakes up" one's true inner self.

spacer gifFrom these wonderful patients and others like them, we have learned:

  • Given a magic wand, everyone would wave it at some body part.
  • Cosmetic surgery is about something far more powerful than we ever suspected.
  • The real secret of cosmetic surgery is that something magnificent happens inside.


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    Harvey W. Austin, MD
    Box 1470
    Berlin MD 21811
    email: h.austin@mchsi.com