From TLC’s Plastic Wives to a rumored Celebrity Swan, plastic surgery reality TV shows are back, and the cover story in the May 2013 issue of Plastic Surgery Practice takes a critical look at this new breed.

Earlier shows such as Extreme Makeover, Dr. 90210, and The Swan peaked in popularity during the early 2000s, but the new shows focus more on the surgeon as opposed to the surgeries or the patients.With a colorful photo spread by Michael Justice featuring the cast of Plastic Wives, the article delves deeper into the lure of these new shows for doctors and viewers, and explores some of the trappings that come with reality TV fame.

The cover story is a departure from Plastic Surgery Practice‘s traditional model featuring a physician or a practice. “I thought this was an important story to tell, and it has been on my radar for a while,” says Plastic Surgery Practice Chief Editor Denise Mann. “These shows are a mixed bag. In some ways, they can be extremely educational, yet in others, they portray specialists and their wives and families in a less than flattering light. I really wanted to investigate what compels a doctor to want to play himself on TV.”

The feature includes interviews with several cosmetic surgeons who have become household names after their stints on popular reality TV shows, including several of the stars of Plastic Wives such as Frances Marques, the ex-wife of Beverly Hills, Calif-based plastic surgeon Ryan Stanton, MD; David Matlock, MD; and Brent Moelleken, MD.

“Reality TV and plastic surgery have become a huge part of pop culture,” says PSP medical advisor Joe Niamtu III, DMD, a cosmetic facial surgeon in Midlothian, Virginia. “Some of these plastic surgery reality TV shows are more like soap operas than real life. They are scripted and for entertainment, not education, but it’s the showmanship that is the lure for the viewers and the stars,” he says. “This article gets to the heart of the matter.”