A DISCUSSION WITH A CERTAIN PLASTIC SURGEON ABOUT THE LIMITS OF AESTHETICS, FREEDOM AND THE POSSIBILITY OF EVERY PERSON TO BIRTH BEAUTY
If you think about it, for too many centuries beauty has been a privilege of the few. Sculptors, painters, architects, musicians, poets, writers, only they were “entitled” to speak through their works about what they themselves considered to be beautiful. They are the only ones who have left us tangible examples of their own view of beauty, as it was understood and accepted at different times. Billions of other people, who have walked this planet over the millennia, farmers, sailors, craftsmen, tailors, bakers, all of them certainly created beautiful objects, but few of them have been left to us as heirlooms. In the last century at least, beauty has been democratized. More and more people have access to it and correspondingly more and more people can create it. Both of them experience beauty and that is great. But more important is that this open access to beauty, especially when supported by the achievements of science, gives birth to the freedom to choose whether you want to be a part or a part of it. The freedom and not the power to interfere with natural measures, such as time, or to give form and shape to your own desires and finally to feel beautiful. This is also the ideal context for someone to decide to change something in their appearance. “I think we don’t have to look hard for what makes us feel good about ourselves. You know, the “I like” that a person says has an officer character. Let’s therefore find a way to change the things that make us feel bad”, explains Dr. Eleftherios Dimitradiou, plastic and reconstructive surgeon and scientific manager of Luxurious Medical Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery clinics. “If someone wants to age naturally, they have the freedom to do so. The one who chooses to intervene and have a more youthful appearance has the same freedom. You do a plastic surgery to feel better, not to become someone else or to change your life,” he adds.
He’s not wrong. Just as someone wants to go to the gym to take care of and protect their health, just like someone wants to wear nice and clean clothes, similarly someone wants to protect their skin. “Societies have always wanted to limit the individual’s freedom of choice,” comments Dr. Dimitradiou. No one disputes that we have agency over our bodies, that we have the right to make changes that externalize and embody our values and beliefs. Nevertheless, if we look at it historically, doctrines of various nature aimed to limit man’s freedom over his own body. An aesthetic operation, not to mention the reconstructive plastics that in many cases are required to properly restore the body’s health, is therefore intertwined with the freedom that every person has to intervene in his body to feel better. However, it is not easy to define what better means. So where is the fine line between what one judges as harmonious and what one judges as excessive? As Dr Dimitradiou explains, in these cases the role of the doctor is crucial. He is the one who will advise and direct the whole treatment properly. “Plastic surgery is practiced correctly and brings results when the harmonious dimensions of the body of each person interested in a treatment are taken into account.” A plastic artist shares a lot in common with a sculptor, notes Dr. Dimitradiou. “If the plastic surgeon does not have an artistic disposition, it is not possible to reach a high level. We are sculptors of the human body: we create, recreate, repair. But most of all, we intervene so that a body causes admiration”, he notes.
But what about exaggeration and how does exaggeration relate to admiration? There are no fine lines here, things are clear for Dr. Dimitradiou: “Exaggerations, I’ll put it bluntly, are for fools – and I include those who recommend such treatments. In the end, the right medicine always pays off. It is so simple”. The line between flirting and narcissism is also thin. There are many cases in which this power to intervene in your body and change your appearance is misused and leads to undesirable results. “A healthy and composed personality is a necessary condition for a successful aesthetic intervention. A plastic surgery on the basis of a healthy personality offers something more. On the contrary, a plastic surgery based on a problematic personality, which is never satisfied with anything, can prove disastrous”, explains Dr. Dimitradiou and adds: “For this reason, when someone decides to have an aesthetic operation, they must know exactly what he is going to do and especially what to expect. Expectations should not be cultivated in vain for a result that is not going to come.”
Understanding the personality as well as the motivations behind the choice of an operation on the external appearance is the key to modern approaches to plastic surgery, which adopt an anthropocentric attitude. In contrast to what was happening until a few years ago, aesthetic operations now follow the principle of less invasive, i.e. the smallest possible incisions combined with the shortest possible recovery time. “In the case of men, for example, who today face anti-aging treatments without taboo,” notes Dr. Dimitradiou, “the treatments should not take away even the slightest bit of the masculinity of the face and overall appearance. You can’t round a man’s face,” he concludes. The concept of non-abstraction seems to be fundamental to his reasoning. In a somewhat romantic counterargument, according to which an aesthetic operation on the face removes something from the history that this face carries, since our experiences and experiences leave their imprint on our skin and if you remove this imprint then they are lost as well what gave birth to it, Dr. Dimitradiou opposes the following: “Plastic surgery never comes to remove, only to complete. Everyone is responsible for how their physical image will evolve over time and should have the freedom to manage that image as they wish. If he chooses his physical image to be more refined, then the plastic surgeon and science come to support that desire.”