It is called revenge plastic surgery: Men and women going under the knife in order to tighten tummies, lift eyes, remove wrinkles and more just to get back at their former partner.
"Dr. Youn, I want the works."
Carol, an attractive Caucasian woman in her mid-40s, sat across from me in the consultation room. Her eyes stared into mine, unwavering.
"What do you mean by 'the works?' " I asked.
"I want to enlarge my breasts, flatten my tummy, lift my neck and skinny my thighs. Oh, and I want my eyes to tilt like Megan Fox's, and I want you to plump my lips like Angelina Jolie's." She puckered and smacked her lips.
"Carol, that's a lot of plastic surgery. Are you sure you need all this? Why do you want to have so much done?"
She paused. Her face flushed a bright shade of crimson red.
"Because," she seethed, "My husband left me for a younger woman. And I want revenge."
Revenge plastic surgery is becoming more common. A 2011 survey by the Transform Plastic Surgery Group in the United Kingdom found that over a quarter (26%) of their patients were recently divorced women, while 11% were newly single men.
Even Hollywood is getting involved in revenge surgery. "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Brandi Glanville recently revealed in her book, "Drinking and Tweeting and Other Brandi Blunders," that she spent $12,000 to undergo rejuvenation of her private parts after breaking up with her husband Eddie Cibrian (who is now married to country singer LeAnn Rimes). She even paid for it with his credit card.
In my metro Detroit plastic surgery practice, I estimate that 20% of my new female patients have recently undergone a divorce.
These patients usually fit into one of three categories. The largest group is recent divorcees who are back "on the market" and want to enhance their appearance to be more attractive to the opposite sex. A smaller group of newly single patients have always wanted to have plastic surgery but their ex-spouses disallowed it. The divorce frees them to finally go under the knife.
And then there are patients such as Carol, who seek plastic surgery as a way to make their ex-spouses jealous. For them, plastic surgery is a way to gain the ex's attention. It's a "look-at-me-now!" mentality.
But recent divorcees may not be in the best mindset to make major medical decisions such as whether to have cosmetic surgery. In fact, according to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, divorce ranks as one of the most stressful events that can occur during one's life, second only to the death of a spouse.
So when I see newly divorced patients in my office, I encourage them to hold off on plastic surgery until they're in a good mental state.
That didn't stop Carol, though. One year later, she came back to see me.
She arrived at my office dressed conservatively. Her hair was unstyled and she wore no makeup, although her neckline was sharp and her lips were decidedly plump. The corners of her eyes were slanted upwards, like a cat, and her eyebrows were overly arched, resembling Mr. Spock. A disproportionately large bosom jutted out from her chest, causing the front of her shirt to hang over her flat tummy.
We sat down across from each other in the consultation room.
"Hi Carol. You look a little different."
"Well, because you wouldn't operate on me, Dr. Youn, I went to a different doctor. He performed a face lift, brow lift, lip plumping, eyelid tilting, breast augmentation, tummy tuck and liposuction," she said, a serious look on her face.
"Wow, that's a lot of surgery."
"Yeah, I know. But my husband and I are back together ,and we've even renewed our vows."
"That's great! So what can I do for you?"
"The thing is, though, now that we're back together, I figured out what I really want."
"And that is?"
"To look like my old self again."