Mirror, Mirror on the Wall


Admit it. Every one of us has been guilty of a stare-down with someone for the size of her (or his!) lips, cheekbones or breasts – or their oddly immobile face and some bizarrely dimpled body part. It’s like those ‘celebrity-gone-wrong’ shots on the covers of supermarket tabloids, which are devastatingly perfect examples of ‘what not to do’ when it comes to cosmetic surgery. Think Heidi Montag, Jocelyn Wildenstein, Donatella Versace and Joan Rivers. C’mon, are these women for real?

Okay, enough banter. Now seriously – who’s to blame for the existence of these extreme surgery addicts?

One of Chicago’s foremost cosmetic surgeons is Julius Few, MD, of The Few institute, with offices in Chicago and New York. This well-respected physician draws the line when it comes to going overboard. Extreme cosmetic surgeries are verboten in his practice. And he’s well aware of when too much is too much.

Plastic surgery pitfalls don’t come out of left field. They begin with what Dr. Few calls “the distortion vortex, or people losing sight of what’s what. Somebody gets a little bit of filler, things are plumped up and looking better, and they start receiving flattering comments. So they start looking into their 10x mirrors and find more subtleties that they want to fill up. It’s a very insidious process and leads to too much surgery.”

While Dr. Few is nationally acclaimed for his ability to craft beautiful countenances that embrace small, subtle amendments rather than overt changes, he also has a good radar for recognizing complex psychological landscapes that affect a patient’s decision to get work done. He notes that unstable emotional and psychological factors should raise red flags for accredited surgeons – or any doctor for that matter. And he has perfected his radar so he can spot questionable reasons for plastic surgery.

“When a patient is pointing out issues that neither I nor my staff can see, that’s one of the key signs. Often, what’s behind this is something totally unrelated to the physical ‘issue.’ It’s something else in their lives that usually has to do with stress.”

And while obsession may be too strong a word to use in many cases, a penchant for drastic enhancements speaks to an addictive quality of trying to achieve perfection. Ironically, this is a catch-22 that can lead to regrettable disasters. Obsessions with wrinkle-free smiles and flat abs may actually be cries for help or a very unfortunate approach to the pursuit of happiness. “This is when I refer them to a licensed counselor who works with patients from our office,” explains Dr. Few.

Now that it’s never been easier to make body parts plumper, tighter and fuller thanks to doctors who have rendered wrinkles optional, many women are banking on multiple inexpensive and minimally-invasive procedures and surgeries to quickly turn back time. Instead, they’re running the risk of looking extremely unnatural and overfilled.

What is natural, however, is aging, so embrace it. This is how Dr. Few breaks down the aging process. There are three main things that happen:
1. The face sags.
2. The skin wrinkles.
3. There’s loss of volume.

“All give you a more aged or tired looking face,” he explains.  And those who benefit most from cosmetic surgeries never lose sight of this biological fact when they go in for a procedure. “Their expectations are reasonable and you wouldn’t know that they’ve had anything done.”

And that’s something we should all keep in mind when we explore our options.

Rosemary Fanti Illustration


About Theodora Skolnik

Theo Skolnik is a graduate of McGill University. She's a marketer by trade, and a scavenger for knowledge and creativity. Catch up with small tidbits @theoskolnik.