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A Family Operation: Plastic Surgeons Who Perform Aesthetic Surgery on Spouses or Other Family Members

Slavin, Sara A. A.B.; Slavin, Sumner A. M.D.; Goldwyn, Robert M. M.D.

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery: March 2010 - Volume 125 - Issue 3 - pp 1018-1023
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181cb672e
Cosmetic: Special Topics

Background: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether plastic surgeons would perform elective cosmetic surgery on spouses or other family members and how many have done so, the type of procedures, the circumstances under which the surgery took place, and the results.

Methods: Participants were 465 members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, representing 30.7 percent of the overall sample pool of 1513 members recruited through anonymous, voluntary participation in an online survey. Approximately half (51.8 percent) were 51 to 65 years old, most were men (91.2 percent), and most were from large urban areas; respondents had been in practice for 1 to 40 years.

Results: The plastic surgeons who returned the survey were comfortable performing elective cosmetic procedures on family members, the majority having already done so. Eighty-eight percent reported they would operate on a spouse or other family member, and 83.9 percent reported they already had. The main motivation (67 percent) was their belief that they were the best surgeon for the procedure. The most commonly listed operations were rhinoplasty, abdominoplasty, eyelidplasty, face lift, breast augmentation, and liposuction. Patients included spouses, children, parents, cousins, and in-laws, ranging from teenaged males to women in their 70s. The overwhelming majority (94.2 percent) reported no complications, and 99.5 percent believed the patients were satisfied with their outcome.

Conclusions: Survey participants are comfortable with the idea of performing elective cosmetic procedures on family members. Regardless of the invasiveness of the procedure or their relationship with the patient, respondents reported no complications and a high level of patient satisfaction anomalous for any patient-surgeon sample, suggesting that surgeons who operate on family members hold confident opinions of their surgical skills and results.

Brookline, Mass.

From the Department of Psychology, Harvard University; Harvard Medical School; and the Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Plastic Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Received for publication June 21, 2009; accepted September 14, 2009.

Presented at the Annual Meeting, Virgin Islands Workshop in Plastic Surgery, in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, January 26 through 30, 2009; Plastic Surgery at the Red Sea Symposium, in Eilat, Israel, March 24 through 28, 2009; and the 87th Annual Meeting and Aesthetic Symposium of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, in Boston, Massachusetts, April 5 to 8, 2008.

Disclosure: None of the authors has a financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.

Sumner A. Slavin, M.D., 1101 Beacon Street, Brookline, Mass. 02446,

©2010American Society of Plastic Surgeons