Surgery Junkies: Wellness and Pathology in Cosmetic Culture

By Victoria Pitts-Taylor | Go to book overview
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Introduction

Dr. James McCullen, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New England, believes that Lydia Manderson, one of his former patients, is a “cosmetic surgery junkie.” Dr. McCullen is a well-regarded, board-certified plastic surgeon who once specialized in reconstructive surgery of the limbs, and now devotes much of his practice to body contouring, which includes body lifts, breast implants, and liposuction. His patient Lydia is an affluent widow who is very enthusiastic about cosmetic surgery.1 Over several years, Dr. McCullen performed multiple surgeries on her face and body. But he has come to believe that Lydia is never satisfied; she is always seeking more beautification or rejuvenation. As he put it in an interview: “She has the money and she wants every little thing done and she's never going to stop.” He believes that no matter how much surgery she gets, there will always be another part of the body she will want lifted, tucked, or transformed. Eventually, McCullen decided to end his doctor-patient relationship with Lydia. The last straw for him came when Lydia, as he put it, “went off to New York and had an arm tuck done.” When she was unhappy with the resulting scars, she asked Dr. McCullen to do another surgery to fix the problem. He refused, because he no longer saw Lydia as

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