Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon on How Selfies Have Affected the Beauty Biz (Q&A)
"My plan was to write a book exposing the unjust 'underbelly' of the plastic surgery world," says Dr. Suzanne Trott.
Plastic surgery and reality TV are two aspects of life in Los Angeles not just relegated to an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Both are ubiquitous with no signs of slowing, and a Beverly Hills-based plastic surgeon is addressing both topics in her recently released book titled Lipo Queen.
Like UnREAL meets Nip/Tuck, Dr. Suzanne Trott, a board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in breast and body contouring tackles everything from women’s body issues to romance and the world of reality television through this fictional work, now available on Amazon.
"My plan was to write a book exposing the unjust 'underbelly' of the plastic surgery world," says Trott, who claims that professionally, doctors who partake in reality shows (no matter how popular) like Botched, are looked down upon. "I also wanted to address themes of women’s body image issues from the perspective of a female plastic surgeon with body issues of her own, which allows her to relate to and treat patients in a way that nobody else could, while spoofing the 'fakeness' of a reality show."
It can be argued that life in L.A. and more specifically, within Hollywood, sees enough of this topic on a daily basis, but through Dr. Trott’s plastic surgeon protagonist Rachel, a deeper, if not more dramatic, tale about what is "real" when it comes to bodies and within our increasingly nonprivate world, is explored in a pretty entertaining manner.
Here, Dr. Trott addresses how reality TV and social media have changed the plastic surgery industry, how she got the nickname "Lipo Queen" and which celebrities her patients are most eager to look like (hint: a couple of "Kates" are biggest for breast-size inspiration and it may not be who you think.)
How has plastic surgery changed in Hollywood since you've started?
Like the technological evolution over the past decade, we're seeing the same thing with a shift in the practice of plastic surgery, where the number of noninvasive and minimally invasive office-based procedures like Botox, fillers and lasers, has become the majority of the specialty as a whole. As a result of all of these minimally invasive options, much more is being done slowly over time with fillers and Botox, and people are starting to stave off big facelifts and extensive body-contouring procedures as long as possible. The most interesting thing to me is this new obsession that young people have with staying looking young. I don't know if it's just an L.A. thing, but with high definition and youth being the holy grail here, I have so many gorgeous young patients in their 20s and early 30s who come in for very small amounts of Botox and fillers to stay looking young. Young people are much more aware of aging now than they were a decade ago.
Is there an overwhelming trend in enhancement right now? Which celebs are people citing for inspiration?
As everyone knows, fat transfer to the buttocks is one of the procedures that people are requesting now, the exaggerated, oversized "Brazilian butt lift" to emulate icons like Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian. Women are also almost never asking for "stick straight" legs anymore. The beauty of natural curves is being appreciated, with more patients asking to preserve their curves. Women are asking more to look like Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara. There is a trend toward smaller, more natural-looking breast augmentations. For this look, I’ve had patients bring in pictures of Kate Hudson, Taylor Swift, Karlie Kloss and Kate Moss. They want a look where "nobody will know." These days, a lot of women are taking out their implants and putting fat in instead, or downsizing their implants.
How has social media and the rise of selfies affected your business?
Social media and the rise of selfies, filters, and Photoshopping and Facetune have exponentially increased my business, especially regarding the minimally invasive facial procedures like Botox and fillers. These days, patients seem to be more concerned with how they look in their selfies and photographs than how they look in the mirror. I tell them to stop comparing their bodies to celebrities: I remind them these days almost every single professionally taken photo they see has been Photoshopped.
What was your main inspiration to write Lipo Queen?
After performing so many body-contouring procedures over the years, I was first inspired to write Lipo Queen in 2008 by the realization that almost every woman I met — including myself — has dealt with, or is dealing with, some kind of body issue. I wouldn’t necessarily call it an "eating disorder" — that sounds very 1987 — but more like a "self-body shaming." Women are just extremely critical of their own bodies. This whole issue of how, as women, our self-images are so tied up in our bodies was so interesting to me, because I always thought it was just me. As a female physician and surgeon with body issues of her own, I could really relate to what my female patients were seeking, whether it was a full body contouring or a "spot reduction," and I gave them what they wanted. But back in 2008 I took a step back and was like, "Look what I’m doing for a living. This is crazy," and with the population in Los Angeles, I was often making skinny women skinnier, which seemed ludicrous. And yet, as crazy as it seemed, I was making a lot of women really happy. Getting rid of bulges like "muffin top," "bra fat," "saddle bags," that they would never get rid of because of genetics or menopause really made them feel better about themselves. It was life-changing for a lot of them, to put their body back into proportion.
Where does the name Lipo Queen come from?
For the first couple of years, before the market crash, I was assisting another physician and everyone was having plastic surgery. The office girls automatically handed off all the lipos to me, and I discovered that my own neuroses about my own body gave me a clear advantage in body sculpting. I also discovered that I had a problem: Whenever I saw fat, I had to remove it, no matter how much or how little. As long as I could see what they were talking about and I thought there was something I could do about it, it was fair game. It was an organic nickname that stuck, and I thought it would be a great title for the reality show in the book.
What about comparisons to Lifetime's UnREAL? There are some parallels.
I did notice that there are some interesting and uncanny parallels to UnREAL. It's exciting that there are so many similarities. It means Lipo Queen is even more timely than I thought it was. And UnREAL is such a successful show and has such a huge following; I think the viewers that liked it would like Lipo Queen.
What are some ways in which you would like to see the plastic surgery industry, specifically in L.A./Hollywood, change or shift?
We need to educate young people in this town who are fixating on things in pictures of themselves or comparing themselves to reality TV stars. A lot of which is smoke and mirrors — filters, lighting, makeup, and Photoshop. I try to get them to appreciate the fact that just by being young, they are a 10 and that a lot of what these young reality TV stars are doing with all of the fillers and Botox and surgery is actually making them look older.