I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
T. S. Eliot: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
June is my birth month. Therefore, I age in June, and not during the rest of the year. Maybe you grow older the same way.
No one relishes the thought of getting older, but plastic surgeons ought to be happy that people do. If no one got older, there would be no faces or breasts to lift, no wrinkles to smooth out, no lips to plump.
Yes, there would still be reconstructive work, and patients would still have their breasts and buttocks augmented and their fat liposuctioned away. But if no one got old, you would lose—what?—maybe 60% of your patient traffic?
That would be sufficient to make a grown plastic surgeon cry. But put your handkerchief away.
Fortunately—for you, anyway—more people are aging than ever before. After all, this year the oldest Baby Boomers are turning 60. These Boomers came of age (albeit a young age) in the 1960s. The Broadway musical Hair proclaimed that decade the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. But nowadays, we are witnessing the dawning of the Aged of Aquarius.
Boomers have a lot of disposable income. Removing the wrinkles from their faces should bring a smile to yours.
Many of the products that we feature in PSP’s Marketplace department—notably topical skin creams—“reverse the signs of aging,” as proclaimed by their manufacturers. On a larger scale, that’s what you do as well. You don’t actually make patients stop aging, of course—that Nobel Prize–winning discovery has yet to be made—but you do restore various body parts to where they were before they got old.
Ptosis in the eyelids, jowls, neck, or breasts? You lift them back to where they were. Loss of tissue in the cheeks or lips? You fill them back up. To the extent that gaining weight is a consequence of aging, and diet and exercise don’t completely solve the problem, you liposuction the patient and perhaps follow that with an abdominoplasty.
In Prufrock, Eliot laments aging and ultimate mortality—most likely his own. We haven’t figured out mortality yet, but if Eliot were with us today, he would have had an interesting time reconciling aging with all the advances in aesthetic surgery. Perhaps he even anticipated it earlier in Prufrock, where he asked, “Do I dare/Disturb the universe?”
If disturbing the universe means making patients look younger and feel better about themselves, so be it. Carry on with the disturbance.