Dr. Anthony Youn, known as America’s Holistic Plastic Surgeon™, shares with us his motivation behind becoming a plastic surgeon and the importance of embracing our individuality.
“I love operating, and I loved the idea of helping people. When I found the field of plastic surgery, it spoke to me. On top of that, when I was growing up, I had an enlarged jaw. By the time I graduated high school, I was so self-conscious of my jaw. So, I had surgery between high school and college where they broke my jaw, and they set it back. That surgery profoundly changed my life, and it really changed how I looked at myself as well as the trajectory of my life. That was when I first realized how a change in appearance can transform our self-image and self-confidence."
While feeling at peace with your physical appearance is important, Dr. Youn also explains how a preoccupation with it can still be problematic and troublesome to one’s health.
He says, “I probably turn down every 1 in 5 patients who come to see me because they have unrealistic expectations. They’ll say - “I want my nose to look like Jennifer Anniston, or I want my breasts to look like Kylie Jenner’s!” However, that is just not realistic. You can’t change your body into someone else’s. That’s why I say that plastic surgery is not a panacea or a fix-all for all of your problems. For example, I have couples who will come in, and the husband will just start pointing at his wife’s body and say - “She needs lipo here and there. I’ve told her to do a few sit-ups, but if that doesn’t work, she needs a tummy tuck.” It astounds me that we live in a society where men can say things like that about women without ramifications or even push women into undergoing cosmetic surgeries that they don’t necessarily want.”
Dr. Youn continues to explain how a patient’s desire for cosmetic surgery can be tied to internal and external pressures. “Some patients even show symptoms of BDD, and the first thing is to get them to a therapist. Some patients have concerns that are out of proportion to reality. Maybe a patient will say - “Look at my cheeks! One is so much bigger than the other.” I’ll look at them and won’t be able to tell the difference, but still, they feel as if their body is not good enough.”
He continues, “Moreover, I think the expectations on Instagram of having to look a certain way contributes to unrealistic expectations. We make plastic surgery look too easy and too much like a simple before and after. A lot of times, social media doesn’t show the path that the patient must take to get there. In reality, cosmetic surgery is not about glitz and glam. These procedures are about helping the patient feel better about themselves and helping the patient be healthier.”
Likewise, Dr. Youn conveys how social media can even misrepresent the lives of physicians. He describes, “When you look at surgeons on social media, you think that it’s all fun and glamorous to have millions of followers, but the reality is a lot different. It all takes so much work. I spent 4 years in medical school, 5 years in residency, 3 years in general surgery where I was working in the ICU and did trauma surgery. I don’t know how many nights I spent overnight taking care of sick people. Then, I spent 2 years in plastic surgery residency. In plastic surgery residency, I learned how to treat everything from burns, to children with developmental disorders, to patients with cancer, and everything in between. Then, I spent 1 year in Beverly Hills doing cosmetic surgery.”
However, after 15 years of formal training, Dr. Youn is still committed to furthering his education on holistic health. “I think traditional medicine is behind on preventative medicine. I’ve spent a lot hours reading up on diet, nutrition, and skincare. In my books and on social media, I share that with others because the goal is to keep patients out of the operating room. I’m very inspired by holistic health experts, and I want to help people embrace their bio-individuality too. Health is not one-size-fits-all, and when it comes to optimizing our health and appearance, we have to do it individually."