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Ryan Gosling, Justin Bieber — why are people getting plastic surgery to look exactly like celebrities? And why are plastic surgeons getting away with this?
It's a good question, especially considering that, $100,000 and five years later, poor Toby Sheldon doesn't really look like Bieber at all. (Even worse, Sheldon used to kind of look like Matt Damon. Tragedy upon tragedy.)
As for Nicholas Ryan, the actor who got $5,000 worth of filler injections in hopes of turning into Ryan Gosling, his efforts yielded a face that appears somewhere on the spectrum between Seth Green and one of the guys from "The Big Bang Theory." But in a good way!
Let's get to the second question first. All doctors are supposed to go through ethics training ... theoretically. But, as I've learned, that's not always the case.
"Oddly enough," says respected plastic surgeon Dr. Brent Moelleken, "you don't get any ethics training in my field, at least, not in residency. There is no formal course on what to do and what not to do ... it would probably be good to have an ethics course."
Indeed, especially when you have ladies running around trying to look like cats and celebrities and ... rodents.
"I had a lady once who wanted to look like a chipmunk," Moelleken tells me. "She thought chipmunks were cute, she loved chipmunks and she wanted to look like one.
"She sounded like a totally reasonable person, but she was just insane. You would never operate on a person like that."
Which brings us the the psychology portion of our Burning Question.
There is no single reason why people ask for these kinds of injections or surgeries. If anyone tells you otherwise, they're guessing. That said, there is usually something unfulfilled inside of these folks, even if it is just a minor morale issue.
"On the mild end, a person may struggle with bouts of low confidence and self-esteem that can impact their interpersonal relationships, job functioning, or family relationships," Manhattan psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona says.
"Consciously or or unconsciously," psychiatrist Dr. Carole Lieberman echoes, "people think that if they look like a particular celebrity, it will bring them the power that a celebrity has, the power to attract people, to be a heartbreaker, to have guys or girls swooning over them.”
(Note: Sheldon is a singer and Ryan an actor, so that observation makes sense.)
Indeed, sometimes, plastic surgery is just a manifestation of simple jealousies.
"When you're next to a 'somebody' and you're just anybody, you can feel like a nobody, and if that hurts enough, and your envy to be somebody is strong, you'll use plastic surgery," says psychiatrist Mark Goulston, author of the book Just Listen. "Calling all Elvis impersonators!"
Sometimes the mental disorders can run a little deeper in would-be celebrity doppelgangers.
"Mental health issues on the extreme end of the spectrum could include severe personality disorders or even psychosis," Cilona explains. "Those individuals are rarely if ever satisfied with the results of cosmetic surgeries. This dissatisfaction often fuels the need and desires for more and more procedures."
All this said, don't think that the demand for this kind of plastic surgery is limited to the little people.
"Average people may want to get plastic surgery to look like celebrities," Beverly Hills therapist-to-the-stars Carla Lundblade says, "but there are celebrities who want to get plastic surgery to look like other celebrities."
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