Facial Plastic Surgery in Singers

By Spalla, Thomas C.; Sataloff, Robert T. | Journal of Singing, May/June 2011 | Go to article overview

Facial Plastic Surgery in Singers


Spalla, Thomas C., Sataloff, Robert T., Journal of Singing


SINGERS BENEFIT NOT ONLY FROM sounding good, but also from looking good. Plastic surgery is common among the general population and among many performers. While cosmetic surgery may be thought of as reserved for the aged, it is becoming more common for younger patients to undergo various procedures. Singing teachers should be familiar with available surgical options and the potential effects on performance.

The desire to look and stay young has been a wish of many throughout history. Lifestyle and genetics play an important role in the way in which one ages, but despite our best efforts, the aging process continues. As the Baby Boomer generation and general population age, the desire for both surgical and nonsurgical intervention has never been greater. Despite recent economic downturns, the demand for aesthetic rejuvenation of the face continues to increase with some trend towards "minimally invasive" or nonsurgical correction of cosmetic concerns. Patients have pushed for less down time and quicker recoveries as their busy lifestyles cannot accommodate weeks off from work, and as science and medicine have progressed, surgeons have been able to meet these goals better. While the armamentarium of facial plastic surgeons has increased with developments in nonsurgical interventions, surgery remains the primary means of long term correction of aesthetic imperfection.

Plastic surgery, derived from the Greek word plasticos, meaning to mold, refers to the correction and repair of tissues in the body. It is a broad discipline that combines both cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries to enhance one's form and function. Reconstructive surgeries are interventions to address situations in which the patient's function is insufficient for normal use, or his or her form is altered significantly from trauma or disease causing disfigurement. Cosmetic surgery is the branch of plastic surgery that deals with problems that are elective and aesthetic in nature. These procedures not only help to address what a person sees when he or she looks in the mirror, but they can also provide a needed psychological "lift" for the patient. A person's appearance is judged, consciously and subconsciously, by everyone with whom he or she interacts. In the entertainment and performance industry, this is particularly important. Close public scrutiny heightens a performer's inherent need to look his or her best. Such visibility fosters consideration for cosmetic surgery to enhance a performer's appearance to maintain or even further his or her career. When the need, desire, and ability to enhance one's appearance intersect, consultation with a plastic surgeon should be considered. It is helpful for performers to understand general issues of facial plastic surgery, as well as special issues that may affect performance.

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

The patient should make an initial assessment prior to consultation with a plastic surgeon. "What is it that I want to change?" and "Why do I want to change this aspect of my appearance?" It behooves the patient to consider the second question as much as the first, for it helps to underscore the importance of the psychological aspect of aesthetic surgery. Improper motivations or expectations can result in a very unhappy patient despite wonderful aesthetic results. The more a patient can communicate his or her concerns, the more productive the consultation process will be.

A facial plastic surgeon should be more than just an expert in the pathophysiology of the aging face; the surgeon has to be capable of taking the entire patient into consideration, which includes other medical conditions and the psychological concerns that are inherent in cosmetic surgery. In the discussion, it is imperative that the surgeon conveys what is achievable through surgery. Sometimes, a patient comes with a preconceived notion of what he or she wants to look like; but it is not always possible, or advisable, to achieve this. …

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