Something truly amazing happened today. I can’t take my eyes off of my own face.
For as long as I can remember, I haven’t liked my reflection. Plagued with acne as early as eight years old, I endured years of cystic acne treatments including two rounds of Accutane, injections, extractions, freezing, and UV light therapy. By my second round of Accutane, I finally kissed cystic acne goodbye, but the scars remain. A crater of scar on my face turns into a line extending down my cheek when I smile. No amount of makeup can improve the contour irregularities I have. It was all I could see when I looked at photos of myself. Until now.
Today, a plastic surgeon friend asked if I’d mind being a demonstration patient for the treatment of acne scars with filler. I have provided this service for patients in the past, but had never had it done myself. I have wanted this for such a long time, and I was happy to volunteer. But I didn’t think it would be such a big deal.
When I held up the mirror and the crater was gone, I couldn’t believe what I saw. There was a beautiful face looking back at me–with smoother skin. Smiling. Incessantly. Then crying with amazement and happiness.
All it took was a syringe of Restylane. A tiny amount of this product completely transformed the person I saw in the mirror. I no longer focused on the marred skin, the lines that broke up the continuity of my cheeks and segmented my face. I did not realize how deeply those scars had affected me until they were gone. Acne and its remnants had bothered me my whole life, but happy distractions—medical school, residency, marriage, children, my career—pushed it out of my conscious. But it must have been a bigger part of my subconscious than I realized, because with them gone, I feel like a different person. I am the same person, but I feel so much happier with me. I know I exude that happiness around me, and I finally feel beautiful. (And, of course, I had a little extra filler tucked in around my eyes, I am over 40 after all…)
And this to me is the essence of plastic surgery. It is not to make you look like someone else. It is not to be fake. It is to enhance how you look, and in the process, how you feel about yourself. I’m still the same mother-sister-daughter-surgeon-wife that I was yesterday. I am just happier one.