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The words plastic surgery usually conjure images of chiselled cheekbones, pouty lips and a good figure. However, there is more to our genre of surgery – I have to admit that as a plastic surgeon I do a fair share of surgeries of the ‘nip and tuck’ variety, but contrary to popular belief, we have to turn down quite a few surgeries.

In fact, on several occasions I have discouraged patients from going under the knife to ‘correct’ nonexistent flaws. I often encourage them to seek professional help especially when false perceptions of how they look and social pressure are the main motivators behind requesting surgery.

A lot of my patients are in show business and if an aging heroine wants a facelift or a tummy tuck in a bid to refresh her career I tend to oblige. However, a pretty, young girl once came to my office because she thought plastic surgery – a nose job and eye lift to be exact – were the key to kick starting her elusive acting career.

However facial features were not the problem; she in fact had poor speech and diction. With a fair bit of effort I convinced her to opt for painless speech therapy and some grooming lessons.

The young actress was one of many patients suffering from dysmorphic syndrome, a condition where patients have a skewed self-image and attribute all life’s failures to the way they look.

Cosmetic surgery is of course not always the answer to their ‘flawed’ body parts; it is very important to listen to patients, understand their problems and if need be dissuade them from unnecessary surgery.

A few months later the young actress sent me a thank you card – she had finally landed a good role.

– Dr Mirza Shehab Afzal Beg

The writer is Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Liaquat National Hospital.

First published in the Health Advertiser of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on October 14, 2012.