PROVINCETOWN – Cape Cod and, for that matter, New England may not be the first places you think of when you hear the words “plastic surgery”. We add value to our old salts. And for some observers, at least, Puritanism still looms large here.
“In the North East,” said Dr Russ Babbitt, plastic surgeon at Fall River, “we are still having the ripple effects of the fact that we were founded by the people who left England in the 1600s. because it was way too racy. “
In his 2018 book on plastic surgery, Perfect mePhilosopher Heather Widdows argues that the plastic surgery industry has heightened the expectation that people – women, in particular – look perfect. Plastic surgery has made our idea of what is normal “to become narrower and harder to achieve,” she writes.
Because of Botox, writes Widdows, wrinkles and jowls have started to disappear in some circles. Shaving and waxing – not plastic surgery, but always beautifying practices – have, she points out, made the bodies of adults hairless, for women but also increasingly for them. men, the default.
Widdows argues, in other words, that plastic surgery and other beauty technologies not only respond to our thinking, but actually shape it.
But not here, right? This is New England. Massachusetts. And the Outer Cape – a land of natural beauty.
Think again. Dr. Scott Allegretti, whose practice is called Provincetown Dental Arts, specializes in cosmetic dentistry practices. There is a demand for cosmetic work, said Allegretti, “wherever you have people looking at themselves in the mirror.”
In fact, you can have plastic surgery right here in Provincetown.
The possibilities are not announced loud and clear. But if you haven’t been at your best lately and your network is tuned in, you might find yourself sitting in a chair in the living room at Dr. Rick Silverman’s beach house in Provincetown, giving your consent. while Silverman polishes this first, then this.
In his living room, Silverman regularly wields syringes full of Botox, a neurotoxic protein produced by bacteria. It paralyzes and shrinks the muscles of the face. It also uses fillers of hyaluronic acid to reshape cheeks, jaws, nose, or even all three, when needed.
On a typical summer weekend, Silverman said, he sees up to seven patients in Provincetown, on 30-minute appointments. He charges between $ 700 and $ 1,000 for these salon services.
Silverman’s official practice is based in Newton, where he specializes in the treatment of gynecomastia, the medical term for “man boobs.” (Silverman does not treat gynecomastia in Provincetown because it requires an operating room.)
The demand for cosmetic surgery has increased across the country during this time of isolation. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 64% of plastic surgeons have seen an increase in consultations. Dr Marc Fater of Cape Cod Plastic Surgery in Hyannis and Babbitt both said their practices were up 20% from 2019.
Silverman, for his part, has not noticed an increase in business but, with the availability of telemedicine consultations, said he has been able to speak with patients across the country and the world. Some patients plan to fly to him from Canada once the border reopens.
Speculation as to why plastic surgery has increased during the pandemic includes the practical idea that the pandemic, with its blockages and face masks, is the perfect time to quietly heal from certain procedures. There is also the hypothesis that, unable to go on an elaborate vacation or book tables in fancy restaurants, people with disposable income are spending it in new ways. Maybe there is a “zoom boom”.
But it is possible that the rise is just the natural progression of attitudes as acceptance of cosmetic procedures increases. Even in New England. That’s what Babbitt thinks. “I get busier and busier every year,” he said.
Silverman said his job isn’t all about vanity. It treats facial lipoatrophy associated with HIV, the severe loss of facial fat which is a complication of HIV and a side effect of many anti-HIV drugs. Silverman uses fillers to help these patients look more like themselves.
Silverman also treated drag queens in Provincetown who asked him to use fillers to feminize their faces, giving them the appearance of taller, fuller cheekbones, fuller lips, and a more heart-shaped jawbone. .
Allegretti, who also supplies Botox and fillers, said that although he is a dentist, he considers these practices to be an integral part of his job. “I call it a smile beautification program,” Allegretti said. A smile “it’s not just the teeth, it’s the whole face”.
“Being good looking makes you feel good,” Allegretti added. He believes that, in turn, “increases your self-confidence and your willingness to be successful and to interact with people.” You feel like you can take over the world.
Silverman recalled a 13-year-old patient from his gynecomastia practice who was “enthusiastic, energetic, fun” until asked to take his shirt off for the consultation. His mother and grandmother were in the room and he was embarrassed to be shirtless, even in front of them.
Gynecomastia is generally not covered by insurance because it is not considered a reconstructive procedure. But Silverman thinks it should. “You have kids with gynecomastia who are laughed at,” he said. “We don’t think it’s a tragedy, but it is.” When the 13-year-old returned to Silverman’s office after the operation, “he ripped off his shirt and had a big smile on his face.”
“Looking good and feeling good are inextricably linked,” Babbitt said.
What is important, say these doctors, is to practice “conservatism”. Usually it’s easy in this corner of New England because patients here tend to want subtle changes.
Dr Fater said his goal is for friends and family of his patients to be unable to determine why this person is different. When his patient walks into a party, he said, someone might ask, “Do you wear your hair differently or have you lost weight?” “
To be successful, but subtly, Babbitt said, “the key is to avoid dealing with SIMON.” The letters stand for Single Immature Male Overly-expectant Narcissist. Those who seek perfection are, at least on this coast, it seems, advised to grow taller first.