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Apparently, people who get divorced are also getting plastic surgery in increasing numbers and they are willing to go to the ends of the earth and take enormous risks to achieve their post-divorce aesthetic ideals. Plastic surgery is not for everyone, obviously. Not everyone can afford it and not every thinks it is becoming. And there are many divorcees who are quite happy with their looks and balk at the thought of going under the knife to prove anything to their ex. Some folks, divorced or not, might even view the increasing trend of non-life saving surgery such as plastic and cosmetic enhancement surgeries as highly problematic and maybe even pathetic. But for an increasing number of newly single men and women, plastic surgery is a surefire way to augment their confidence as they enter the dating pool and start their lives over again. Just read this article that appeared in the Washington Post two years ago if you have any doubts. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/10/AR2010121002987.html
The trend is so hot right now that some surgeons such as Dr. Stephen Greenberg in New York, apparently offer special deals for the newly divorced called “Divorce Packages.” These can see up to a whopping 30-40 percent discount on regular procedures such as rhinoplasty, liposuction and breast implants. Another plastic surgeon, Michael D. Cohen who is affiliated with the Cosmetic Surgery Center in Maryland has copped to seeing a lot of patients who want to get post-break up “vengeance plastic surgery.”Around the world like in South Africa, patients can go on “Plastic Surgery Safaris” according to a recent CNN report. CNN also reports that, according to the Economist Online Seoul, Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world. Is this where America’s divorcees are heading to reconstruct their faces and bodies after their marriages end?
Divorce Saloon contacted two plastic surgeons, Dr. Chetan Patel whose offices are in Johannesburg, South Africa and Dr. Francis Palmer of Beverly Hills, California to get to the bottom of it all. Unfortunately Dr. Patel was unable to speak with us due to advice from his superiors. But Dr. Palmer was very gracious in giving us a bit of his time to discuss this issue. The following is an extract from these conversations
DIVORCE SALOON: Good morning, thank you for agreeing to speak with us today.
DR. FRANCIS PALMER: Thank you for having me.
DIVORCE SALOON: So first, tell us, where is your office located ?
DR. FRANCIS PALMER: Beverly Hills, California
DIVORCE SALOON: How long have you been practicing cosmetic surgery?
DR. FRANCIS PALMER: Twenty two years
DIVORCE SALOON: Have you seen any changes in the number of people opting for cosmetic surgery in recent years in your practice? And what percent of people who consult with you cite a significant life change such as divorce as motivating them to get cosmetic surgery?
DR. FRANCIS PALMER : Well, it’s just exploded for the general population and for the divorced population as well. When I started 22 years ago, plastic surgery was a luxury for the wealthy and very affluent. The very well off. Almost like a birthright you might say. Now, The industry has just exploded. The stigma has been removed so it is much more accepted. There are entire industries that feed off of this. People can literally take out loans to get their surgery; a type of micro-credit if you will. This is a reflection of the way society has a greater acceptance of cosmetic surgery. If you took the population of divorce people back in the 1990s it is pretty consistent. Aesthetic medical procedures have exploded. On every street corner, every mall you can pretty much find someone who will do something to you. And it is easier to afford. This is both good and bad. People who have a significant life change, like divorce, are particularly prone to seek these types of surgeries. I offer a procedure called the Celebrity Lift that is very popular with divorcees. It is all based on the Palmer Code.
DIVORCE SALOON: This brings me to this question Dr. Palmer about the Palmer Code. What is that exactly?
DR FRANCIS PALMER: The Palmer Code is something I created over the course of my career. About 15 years ago, it occurred to me that there are certain aesthetics, a particular set of aesthetics that create the “ideal” male/female face. Possessing or lacking these ideals determine if a person is attractive or unattractive and violating these principles during surgery means a patient is unlikely to improve his or her appearance. All of this information is on my website. Using these principles, I am able to achieve very impressive results. See Dr. Palmer at work here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6YSmglWpB4
DIVORCE SALOON: What are these principles?
DR PALMER: It is on my website as I said and anyone can read it and get informed about these trade secrets I have devised. Divorced or not. These ideals, these principles, are the pathway to making them more attractive. When you see these pulled faces, upturned noses and big cheeks it is because they have violated the Palmer Code. It is all about ideal shapes and proportions; it is about prioritizing what is most important on the face. I mean, let me ask you this, which feature do you think is most important on an attractive face?
DIVORCE SALOON: I have no idea. Maybe the nose since it is central to the face?
DR. PALMER: Wrong. It is the cheeks that are most important. They need to be a very specific shape; 75% of attractiveness comes down to the cheeks. This is what gives the face a more feminine or masculine appearance depending on the outcome that is sought.
DIVORCE SALOON: I see. Have you heard of “Vengeance Plastic surgery?” Is this where the vengeance is achieved? In the cheeks?
DR. FRANCIS PALMER: I have never heard it referred to in that way but I understand the gist of it. If someone leaves you, you go out and improve your looks so that when you see your ex you want them to feel sorry like they have made a mistake. In my office I offer something called the Palmer Celebrity Lift. It is a mini face lift. Some divorce patients might do it because they probably want the ex to be sorry. It is their way of saying to the ex “Don’t I look amazing? Are you sorry now?” There are few ways to transform your appearance with cosmetic I guess that might be why they call it “vengeance.” The only thing is that it has to be done correctly.
DIVORCE SALOON: We agree completely. Which brings me to the next question. There are many countries where doctor offer very low priced procedures. CNN did a report recently about plastic surgery deals in places like Korea, for example. There is even something called “plastic surgery safari” which you can get in Africa–
DR. PALMER: This is basically medical tourism and I am against it. You find this mostly in South Africa and places like that. This is not to impugn any particular doctor in these areas. But let’s just be clear: America is the capital of plastic surgery. Beverly Hills is the capital of American plastic surgery. Sure you can go to places like Brazil, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa and Portugal for low cost procedures. But it is like going into a Honda dealership and thinking you are going to come out with a Bentley. Many of these places are low cost mills in these places but my advice is you get what you pay for. If you want quality you need to pay for it. In America you have surgeons who are very well trained. There are ways to make sure of that through the certification process. Consumers need to be educated about that. Board certification is not the same in every country Otherwise it is not you who will be getting vengeance against your ex. It will be the other way around. And pay for your consultation. Any doctor who offers free plastic surgery advice is just trying to sell you something. Pay for your consultation and get good advice so you can make the right decisions. Better yet, read my book and in it I tell you how to choose a plastic surgeon. It is never because he was “cheaper.” You can always find cheaper in places like China and Korea and South Africa. But here in America these surgeons receive the proper training and are more likely to have the right motivation. Again, I am speaking generally. There are always exceptions.
DIVORCE SALOON: So do you have special packages for divorcing people? If so what are these special deals? If not is this something you can see yourself considering for your practice given the rate of divorces around the world?
DR. PALMER: That whole concept just makes me cringe. I just think that is so exploitative. I would never advertise such thing in my office. These emotions are real when someone goes through a divorce or significant life change. Can you imagine offering a vengeance plastic surgery package at a time like that? I can see offering a discount to certain patients at certain times but this is a question of morals and ethics. Would you want somebody who does this, with this type of exploitative mentality working on you while you are asleep?
DIVORCE SALOON: So you see it as a type of ambulance chasing for the medical profession then?
DR. PALMER: Look, over the years a lot of non-core people came into the profession. I am trying to be careful how I put this. But this is it. A lot of non-core people came in. They came into it for the money. This is never a good motivation to do anything. I believe I was given a gift by God to improve people’s appearance with plastic surgery, to make them more attractive. It is a talent it is not just about the money. This idea of offering divorce packages just makes me cringe. It is purely a way to take advantage of people when they are most vulnerable.
DIVORCE SALOON: So you think cosmetic surgery is exploitative of people who might be vulnerable?
DR. PALMER: I certainly think divorce plastic surgery packages are exploitative and I think that if and when patients make hasty decisions to have surgeries just because there may be a “package” that they could compound the problem – the emotional one from the divorce – and/or they could get bad surgeries which cannot be fixed. I mean sometimes you can’t reverse bad surgery.
DIVORCE SALOON: What is the gender break-down would you say? In other words are your clients? Specifically the divorced ones mostly women? Are you seeing an increase in male clients? Is the motivation the same? If not how is it different?
DR. PALMER: This hasn’t changed much in 20 years. It is roughly 70% female and 30% male. And it makes sense. Society is rougher on women. I imagine recently divorced women feel more pressure to look good after a divorce than their ex husbands.
DIVORCE SALOON: A recent report suggest that up to 40% of divorced people get post-divorce cosmetic procedures. In the U.S that could add up to well over 200,000 people a year. Do you agree with this statistic?
DR. PALMER: No. It is way higher than that. I mean if you are talking about invasive surgeries like face lifts and breast augmentation, then yes. Maybe it is 40%. But if you are adding in non-invasive procedures like chemical peels, laser surgery, dermabrasion and lip implants and things like that, I would put that number up to 70% at least.
DIVORCE SALOON: Wow. That’s a lot. What is the most popular procedure would you say that the recently divorced look for? Is this any different from the general population? Tummy tucks? Lipo? Breast augmentation? Tell us what are the most sought after procedures? Is the same true for men and women? Is there a particular ideal look that you find is most requested? Do all these ex wives want to look like Kim Kardashian, for example?
DR. PALMER: Well, Kim Kardashian is a very attractive woman. She is very feminine and if women want to look like her I wouldn’t be all that surprised. She is in the media a lot. But yes, those are some of the most popular procedures for women – divorced or not: breast augmentation, lipo, tummy tucks, face lifts, rhinoplasty. For men it’s more eye lid surgery and if you have 60 year olds planning to go out and date 20 year olds after their divorce, then it gets more invasive. Now you are talking about the face lifts and cheek implants and things like that.
DIVORCE SALOON: How much on average would you say people spend on aesthetic surgery to look good post-divorce?
DR. PALMER: Well that depends. I have seen people spend in excess of 50,000 dollars in some instances to get their so called “vengeance.” I don’t want to get into a discussion of my fees, however. Suffice to say I am pretty much at the top of the scale as far as fees. And this is due to my years of experience, my international appeal that comes from those years of experience. My aesthetic judgment. I mean, I wrote the book on beauty, on how to achieve this ideal.
DIVORCE SALOON: Wow. Fifty thousand dollars! Are most of your clients fairly affluent? What is the socio-economic situation for the average client? Do poor divorcees ever come in and ask for payment plans, for example? Do they get loans or micro credit to afford these procedures.
DR. PALMER: Yes. Most of my clients are fairly well off. We don’t offer payment plans in my office. I would tend to refer the patient to another surgeon in that case. Some do take out loans.
DIVORCE SALOON: Are your clients limited to any particular geographic area?
DR. PALMER: No. I have clients literally from all over the world. My practice is fairly international. I had an office in London at one point as well.
DIVORCE SALOON: What concerns do you have about this type of surgery on this demographic? In other words, do you think that this is too vulnerable a time in someone’s life for this type of procedure? How do you counsel clients about the outcome and even the motivation for this type of surgery?
DR. PALMER: Well, look, this is a vulnerable time in people’s lives when they go through a divorce or any other significant life change. They may be overwhelmed. We are not in the business of psychology, obviously, and so we don’t get into the emotional side of things too much but I would refer a patient if I thought they needed that. We do realize and respect that this is a sensitive time in people’s lives and so there are some patients who might try to rush into this and get surgery which may or may not achieve the desired outcome and so they can compound the problem emotionally if they don’t achieve the outcome they want. So patients have to do their research and they need to take their time and get the information they need and be ready for this type of thing. But again, I am not in the business of psychology. This is outside the scope of my services. I refer them out for this type of service.
DIVORCE SALOON: Do you do do-overs if the surgery goes wrong? At what cost to the client? And do you have clients who die during surgery?
DR. PALMER: That is a really goofy question. Look, I am good at what I do. I believe I have a god given talent for this. I can make people more attractive with cosmetic tweaks. My aesthetic judgment is sound. The Palmer Code works. I don’t typically have situations where clients want “do overs.” But I am a surgeon. No good surgeon gives guarantees to a patient. As far as dying during surgery, this is just a very rare occurrence. for people to die during surgery. Especially in the United States. This is just very rare.
DIVORCE SALOON: Can a divorced client be too old or young for plastic surgery? For example if someone has been married over 30 years and is in their 60s or older when divorced (an increasing phenomenon) do you counsel against the surgery?
DR. PALMER: Well, obviously, what works for a 30 year old recent divorcee might be too extreme for a 60 year old recently divorcee. In my opinion a 30 year old can get more aggressive with what she gets done than someone who is clearly much older. You can be more dramatic with a 30 year old, obviously. Can a patient be too young? Yes, of course. I have declined to work on a patient who just didn’t have the amount of sagging skin needed for a procedure. I mean, as a general rule a 20 year old is too young for a face lift. But it all depends. There are exceptions. It is patient-specific.
DIVORCE SALOON: What are the down sides to plastic surgery especially for people who have experienced a significant life change such as divorce? Do you ever counsel a client to wait till more time had passed between the life change and the surgical procedure? In your professional judgment have you ever felt a client was just not emotionally and psychologically ready for surgery?
DR. PALMER: Well, I don’t take every patient. And there are any different reasons for that. If I thought a patient was just psychologically not ready I would probably not take the patient. If I have a patient who is argumentative and belligerent, or who has had excessive work done in my opinion, I may decline to take this patient. It depends on the situation.
DIVORCE SALOON: Any words of wisdom for someone recently divorced who might be contemplating plastic surgery as a way to boost confidence and self-esteem?
DR. PALMER: Well, make an informed decision. Don’t rush into it. Have the right motivations and expectations. If your husband wants to leave you getting plastic surgery or enhancing your breasts probably won’t get him to stay. And frankly if a potential patient came in and said “I want to enlarge my breasts because my husband wants to leave me and I want to make him stay” I probably would not take that patient because I am not sure that psychologically that patient is in the right place or has the right expectations or motivations.
DIVORCE SALOON: Have you ever had a patient where the plastic surgery actually led to divorce?
DR PALMER: That is an urban myth. In 22 years I have not seen a client get divorced because they became more attractive after cosmetic surgery. In other words, they don’t become more beautiful and somehow this leads to divorce. But there may have been times when the patient was planning to divorce their spouse after surgery but was holding on to the marriage so the spouse would pay for the procedures. I have seen that happen. But the reality is that plastic surgery does not change who you are on the inside just because you are more attractive on the outside. You don’t suddenly become more ethical and moral just because your exterior has changed and your looks have been enhanced, unfortunately.
DIVORCE SALOON: Dr. Palmer, thank you for speaking with us today.
DR PALMER: Any time.
Francis R. Palmer, III, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Medical Director for The International Center for Aesthetic Surgery and The Palmer Code Institute in Beverly Hills, California, Francis R. Palmer III, MD, FACS, creator of The Palmer Beauty Principles TM, What’s Your Number ®, The Celebrity Lift TM and The Facial Contour ® Facelift, is one of the most sought after plastic and cosmetic surgeons in the world.
Past Director of Facial Plastic Surgery for the University of Southern California School of Medicine, for over a decade, Dr Palmer’s aesthetic vision and surgical expertise has attracted a wide array of international clientele. Celebrities, Royalty, world leaders and captains of industry alike trust him to improve and rejuvenate their appearance through his unique knowledge of cutting-edge techniques and state-of-the-art technology.
His work is known both internationally and nation-wide as he teaches and lectures about his aesthetic vision and plastic surgery techniques. Dr. Palmer frequently appears as an expert on plastic surgery in both scholarly and general media. Dr Palmer serves as a consultant and is involved in aesthetic medical research as well as participating in product development for emerging new technologies with industry leaders, investment and technology firms. Dr Palmer is the Director of The Aesthetic Research Center in Redwood City, California where he oversees and is the Principal Investigator for clinical trials on Myoscience Inc’s aesthetics medical device.
His recent accomplishments include The Celebrity LiftTM, which takes substantially less time to perform and less healing time than a conventional facelift. He is known for The Palmer Beauty Principles TM, his system of beauty principles which are featured in his new book “What’s Your Number…the palmer code” that guide his acclaimed aesthetic work on people from all over the world.
A Pennsylvania native, Dr. Palmer has called Southern California home for over thirty years. An honors graduate of San Diego State University, he received his MD from the University of California – Irvine. Following his residency at USC-LA County Medical Center, Dr. Palmer completed a fellowship with the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and is board certified in that specialty. He has also completed a fellowship with the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery and is board eligible in that specialty.
Dr. Palmer and his expert plastic surgery techniques have been featured in many broadcast and print media, including ABC’s The View, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News, Dr. Phil, Entertainment Tonight, Allure, Fit, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, US Weekly, People, In Touch, The New York and Los Angeles Times. British magazine Tatler named him “one of the world’s best plastic surgeons.” Even renowned columnist Liz Smith has mentioned Dr. Palmer.
Dr. Palmer has created several lines of cosmeceuticals (Defy ®, PAS tm, Francis R. Beverly Hills®) that produce younger looking, healthier skin that radiates wellbeing.
When Dr. Palmer is not in surgery or devising a new procedure, he loves to paint in acrylics, watercolors and oils. Many of his canvases hang in his Beverly Hills office. He resides in Santa Monica with his wife and two children.
- For more information on Dr. Palmer’s PALMER CODE where he details the principles of beauty at www.dfpalmer.com