There are, of course, a number of myths surrounding most things in life. The problem arises when myths are nurtured instead of debunked. As I delve deeper into subject of facelift surgery for our forthcoming book, it seems to me that this is an ideal forum for dispelling at least some of the more misleading myths that continue to be promoted by certain sectors of the industry.
1. The Harley Street myth. There is an extraordinarily deeply ingrained belief in Britain that if a doctor has a Harley Street address then he is by definition at the top of his profession, if not world class. The fact is that a room in Harley Street can be rented by almost any doctor who can pay the fees (which incidentally are currently lower than what we pay in Bristol for similar consultation facilities). A Harley Street address does not guarantee excellence (if it did, surgeons would not need to bother with all that tiresome training – they could just rent a room in Harley Street) . We consult in Harley Street for two reasons a. to take advantage of the public misperception surrounding Harley Street and b. because it is more convenient for patients coming from the South East or Heathrow.
2. The ‘plastic surgeon’ myth. Again, there is widespread belief that only ‘plastic surgeons’ are trained to competently carry out cosmetic surgery. In fact, training in facial cosmetic procedures is a core aspect of training for a number of Higher Professional Training schemes for surgical trainees in the UK e.g. ENT, Opthalmology and Maxillo-Facial Surgery. In fact, Phil Guest was in the vanguard of introducing training in cosmetic surgery techniques into higher training in Maxillo-Facial Surgery in the UK.
3. The ‘top surgeon’ myth. The term ‘top surgeon’ is mindless journalese and has no objective meaning whatsoever in terms of relative expertise. It may have another meaning in the context of political hierarchy within the NHS management hierarchy.
4. The ‘Mr X drives a Bentley – he must be good at what he does’. This is window dressing, as are wearing a bow tie or morning suit, or being photographed behind a leather topped desk in front of a bookcase.
5. The ‘surgeon as sculptor’ myth. This is actively promoted by some surgeons, as if the ‘new you’ were something that could be delicately and accurately hewn from a rough block of stone. In fact, technical outcome after facelift surgery appears to be primarily dependent on pre-existing morphology and pathology rather than the creative talents of the surgeon. However, given surgical competence, I do believe that a ‘good eye’ is necessary, but this is a relatively weak predictor of a good outcome.
6. The ‘learned society’ myth. A number of surgeons make great play of how many professional societies they belong to. Does belonging to the RAC make you a better driver? Exactly.
7. The ‘surgeon to the stars’ concept . This is an interesting idea and one which I confess I know relatively little about – it may or may not be a myth. Media personalities are under constant scrutiny and the camera is a cruel mistress. I am currently reading Toyah Willcox’s ‘Diary of a Facelift’ and will write more when my thinking is a better informed.