What You Should Ask Before Getting Plastic Surgery, With Dr Terry Dubrow
“You should put Paul on the cover and show men with breasts,” Dr Terry Dubrow says laughing. “That would be the first Men’s Health cover of men with breasts, I think it would be hilarious.” I’ve just picked up the phone but the doctor’s wit is second to none.
It’s one of the reasons his show Botched alongside Dr Paul Nassif is a hit in 165 countries. Not only do the duo have extreme-smarts in the operating room, but their tongue-in-cheek chemistry makes for excellent TV. Six seasons later and Dr Dubrow still has the energy of an up-and-comer.
One thing’s for sure: at 61 years old Dr Dubrow works hard. “Weirdly, my job is my hobby,” he says. “So when I’m not operating I’m not that relaxed; I’m relaxed in surgery. Some guys like to play golf; I operate. I find weight-lifting very relaxing but I don’t have hobbies, surgery is my hobby.”
Work and gym is his mantra, with Dr Dubrow maintaining a gym routine most millennials could hope for. “I get up at about 5am, I get to work at about 5:50am and I start operating at about 6am. I usually operate from 6am to 4pm and then I go right to the gym.
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“I have a trainer and do about 50 minutes of weights and then I do 40 minutes of HIIT cardio, every single day,” he adds. “I try to work out every single day, knowing that I won’t be able to make it every single day. If I do work out every single day I’m happy about it but usually something interferes. They call it daily exercise for a reason, it’s supposed to be done every day, right?”
Right. And before I went for a run to rid myself of lockdown lethargy, inspired by the doc himself, I picked his brain on all things plastic surgery.
Judging by the show, there are so many bad plastic surgeons out there. How do I know if I’m in good hands?
“Ask your plastic surgeon: can you do this operation that you propose doing on me in a hospital? Because if a hospital will let that surgeon do that operation on them. A real hospital – not a surgery centre – a real hospital; that means that the hospital has vetted them, that means the hospital has cleared them for their background, their credentials, board certification, and I think that’s very important.
“In your country and in my country, you can call yourself a cosmetic surgeon but that doesn’t mean that’s really what you’re trained in. Any kind of doctor can do cosmetic surgery.”
What should you ask yourself before getting plastic surgery?
“You should ask yourself if it’s really worth it. As Botched will show you, even the smallest procedures carry risk to them. It’s often the little ones that you think are no big deal – like getting a little injection, a filler on the cheek – that could cause blindness, cut off blood supply.
If it really is a minor thing, maybe you should just forget about it, not focus on it, change your hairstyle or go to the gym.
“So does it really bother you enough to take on the risk of a complication? Because if it really is a minor thing, maybe you should just forget about it, not focus on it, change your hairstyle or go to the gym. Or take a fifth of the money you were going to spend and go on vacation.”
What’s your waiting list like?
“I’m on a television programme that’s on in about 165 countries, so if you have a hopeless complication in some place in the world and the local plastic surgeons tell you ‘it’s too risky, it’s not worth it,’ you’re going to come to me. And so my list is long with people all over the planet who have problems.
“But we prioritise: you fly to see me, you’ve got a very difficult problem; I will put you on my schedule. Just because my heart goes out to these people living with these terrible problems.”
Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you do surgery?
“Yes, I mean, we now put masks on the patients. We check them for the virus. But other than that there’s no safer place to be than in the hands of the doctor who’s comfortable with sterilisation, with personal protective equipment, who knows how to test the patients and who does a pre-screening for health.
“We thought it was going to change dramatically but really the only difference is that we test them before surgery and we put masks on.”
Have you ever made a mistake during surgery?
“I don’t know about making mistakes, I’ve had complications. Meaning, I do the right thing based on years of experience and well-established surgical principal but things can go wrong; and they do go wrong. And if a plastic surgeon tells you they haven’t had many complications, all that means is they don’t do many surgeries.
“When a patient is having a problem I do what I call ‘circle the wagon’ – so I put them under a microscope and I see the condition they’re in, I watch them super carefully and I act – I act promptly and I act very carefully to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.”
How much have you learnt from Dr Nassif?
“He’s a very bright guy with a lot of experience. And even though I’ve had 20 plus years of experience, he will have a different perspective that he’ll share with me, and I would think about it, consider it and sometimes I would modify my plan based on what he suggests.”