In previous posts, I have discussed how our mind affects cosmetic surgery results and perceptions. See Mind games and cosmetic surgery
Today I am looking into the differences between what your cosmetic plastic surgeon sees and what you see in your cosmetic surgery results.
My eyes, my perception
I started wearing glasses when I was in medical school in the early 1980s. All through my childhood I had perfect vision, and then suddenly in medical school I could not see the board anymore. Mind you, I was the eager type who sat in the front row! I went to the ophthalmologist, had the usual eye exam and was told that I really did not need glasses as I had minimal deficit in my vision. I begged for relief from my blindness and the doctor acquiesced to make me one of the “glassed.” My eyesight has remained remarkably stable over the past 30-odd years—not much worse than the first exam—and I’m still not really in need of glasses, but without them I am as blind as a bat for seeing things farther than 10 feet away. Walk into a room farther than that and all I “see” is a blur.
Blindness occurs in eyes and brains
We all “see” things, of course, unless we truly have a physical problem with our eyes such as blindness or cataracts. But there is also another type of blindness known as cortical blindness that can occur in some patients, especially after strokes. Their eyes are fine, but parts of their brain concerned with interpreting visual stimuli that come from the retina of the eye is damaged. The brain does not perceive the stimuli. Think of it as the computer sending a signal to a screen but your screen is turned off. You see nothing.
My eyes are fine, more or less, and someone else with the same eyes may have no problem seeing clearly. For me, the problem is in my brain—it does not perceive stimuli coming from my eyes well enough. My brain demands a clearer picture. It is bothered by the slight decrease in visual acuity provided by my eyes.
That was just my own personal example of how perception affects our surroundings, and for cosmetic patients, the way we see ourselves.
How patients experience cosmetic surgery results
Patients are always telling me that their friends tell them they look great, amazing, young, etc. before they have had any surgery! Yet they are sitting in a cosmetic plastic surgeon’s office for a facelift consultation because when they look in a mirror, they see a tired, old, haggard face. Each cosmetic patient has a view of him or herself that may be crueler than objective reality. In extreme cases, their perception may be so different from objective reality that it becomes a disease process; body dysmorphic syndrome and anorexia are two such conditions, in which patients see themselves in a distorted way that no one else does. They see a mountain where there is a pebble.
For the typical cosmetic plastic surgery patient, the viewpoint is usually pretty reliable. It can have objective findings on a physical exam by a plastic surgeon that corroborate the patient’s perception—a slightly droopy set of jowls that can be corrected by a facelift or a bump on top of a nose that a rhinoplasty will fix.
We know our brains can play tricks on us and that we are at times hard-wired to see things that do not really exist. When it comes to looking at our faces and bodies, the same is true.
We each see things that no one else sees, seeing life through our own eyes. Plastic surgeons are here to help you get the cosmetic surgery results you want and also help others around you do the same!