Spouses often are jerks about plastic surgery

Husbands of plastic surgery fans have a sensitive role to play.

It’s a challenge that most of them fail. Instead of communicating effectively and caringly with their wives about plastic surgery, husbands tend to act like jerks or wimps.

Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna
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Many husbands decide the subject is too sensitive to touch. In my experience reporting on cosmetic medicine, I’ve noticed that because husbands believe they have no right to tell their wives what to do, they don’t even discuss pros and cons.

Instead, they fade into the background.

“You look wonderful, dear,” they say. “You don’t need any work done, but if it makes you happy, go ahead.”

That was the approach Frank Curtin took in the reality TV show “Real Housewives of Orange County” when his wife, Lynne, decided that she wanted a facelift, even though the couple’s finances were shaky.

That’s the wimpy approach.


Many other husbands go to the other extreme and become dictators. They demand their own way, whether it’s pro- or anti-plastic surgery.

Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag / Getty Images (Click photo for slide show featuring Heidi Montag)

Playwright Andrew Upton, the husband of actress Cate Blanchett, is so opposed to plastic surgery that he has made an ultimatum about it to his wife.

“Andrew said he’d divorce me if I did anything,” Blanchett said.

Other husbands, who are pro-surgery, accompany their wife into the doctor’s office to make sure the work will be to their liking. Doctors dislike that situation, but they tend to tolerate it.

“I hate, hate, hate it when I see a woman in consultation who plans plastic surgery at the request/demand of a boyfriend or husband, and doesn’t necessarily want it for herself,” says plastic surgeon and blogger Dr. Tony Youn.

Actor Sylvester Stallone went even further, according to disputed testimony against plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Hoefflin of Beverly Hills. A medical assistant of Hoefflin testified that Stallone entered Hoefflin’s operating room during a girlfriend’s breast implant operation and instructed him to use larger implants than she wanted, which Hoefflin allegedly did.

To defend themselves against authoritarian husbands, many women hide that fact that they’re seeing a cosmetic doctor.

Secrecy is the approach taken by about half of all cosmetic patients, according to my recent informal survey of cosmetic doctors in Southern California.

“Many patients have strict orders [to doctors] to call them only on their cell phones at specific times. Others will only have treatments when their husband is out of town,” plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Persky told me.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Ashkan Ghavami added, “Many patients will plan around their husband’s business trips, etc. By the time their significant other is back in town, the bruising if any is gone.”

“The ones who are secretive either wait for their partner to be away and do several treatments all at once; or they do a little at a time — lips one month, Botox the next, and then laugh lines several months after that,” Ghavami said.


Another technique that strong-willed women use is to ignore what their husbands have to say.

Actress Jane Fonda says she did that during more than one marriage. Her husbands didn’t want her to have breast implants. She wanted them — for a while — so she got them.

“I went through a number of years feeling really bad and non-womanly about myself. I got the idea implants would make me feel more like a woman,” she said. “For a while they did — they gave me confidence. But my husbands hated it and I came to hate it too.” She later had the breast implants removed.

Reality TV celebrity Heidi Montag also ignored her husband’s wishes when she underwent multiple surgeries late last year.

“I try to stop her,” said Montag’s husband, Spencer Pratt. But to no avail. “She’ll do what she wants with her body.”

Actress Courteney Cox went ahead with Botox injections over the objections of her husband, David Arquette, from whom she is now separated.

“He loves the aging process. He thinks it’s beautiful. I’m under pressure to not do anything,” Cox said.

Similarly, actress Melanie Griffith has had extensive cosmetic surgery, although her husband, Antonio Banderas has said he wants her to grow old naturally.


Clark Gregg and Jennifer Grey / Getty Images (Click photo for slide show featuring Jennifer Grey)

In contrast to those many examples of failed or ignored marital communications, two celebrity couples recently succeeded in discussing and reaching a mutual agreement about cosmetic procedures.

In one case, the wife shunned Botox after a conversation with her husband. In the other case, the wife ended up going under the knife.

Actress Jennifer Grey, 50, said she was planning to get Botox to smooth away her wrinkles before competing on “Dancing With the Stars” this fall, but her husband talked her out of it.

Her husband, Clark Gregg, didn’t say anything extraordinary, but he was persuasive.

Grey said, “Before the show, I thought, ‘Oh, I should get some Botox, get rid of the wrinkles under my eyes.’ … When you put a lot of makeup, the lines become very apparent.”

But Gregg advised her “not to touch anything, to be who I am, because I look great.”

She said she’s happy with that decision.

“Aging is inevitable and the idea that we can be eternally youthful is the pitfall of our society,” Grey said.

The circumstances facing actress Lisa Rinna and her husband, actor Harry Hamlin, were more complicated.

The top lip of Rinna, 47, was oversized and irregularly shaped because of scar tissue that gradually formed around silicone she’d had injected into it at age 25.

Celebrity watchers were scornful, but husbands don’t look at their wives the way others do.

“What got me about Lisa was her eyes, not her lips,” said Hamlin, who married Rinna in her mid-30s. “So I spent most of my time looking at those.”

“Whatever change took place was so gradual, it never registered for me,” he said. When he kissed her, he said, her mouth always “felt soft and supple.”

When Rinna began considering lip-reduction surgery to remove the scar tissue, she expected Hamlin to object, and she was right.

Plastic surgery is “never a good thing, in my opinion,” he told People magazine. “Plastic surgery is just an extension of that whole ‘let’s stay fresh and young’ vibe.”

She said, “I knew Harry would say, ‘Don’t touch it, don’t mess with it.’ He was like, ‘Maybe you should just leave it alone.’ He loves me the way I am.”

But she told him how important the operation was to her and what it was like to be the butt of never-ending snarky comments about her lips.

Before long, Hamlin supported her decision.

In late August, plastic surgeon Dr. Garth Fisher of Beverly Hills operated from the back side of Rinna’s upper lip, removing 30 percent of its volume to excise the silicone and the scar tissue.

“I feel fantastic,” she said even before she had recovered from the operation.

Hamlin reverted to faithful-husband mode:

“Me, I’m just gonna get old and haggard. But I love Lisa no matter what — whether she has plastic surgery or not, or she’s gray or saggy. It’s the long haul here,” he said.

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