by Guido Guidi Guerrera
Why does a person use plastic surgery? What are the deep reasons that push you to change your body and in some cases to upset it? Are there ethical boundaries in all of this, or in a society that privileges hedonism and narcissistic self-image worship? These are the questions that only a leading industry expert could provide authoritative and compelling answers. With the down-to-earth and hasty manners of a thoroughbred Milanese, elegant and with a face made to inspire confidence, Marco Klinger is one of the most illustrious plastic surgeons in Italy. Head of the Plastic Surgery Operating Unit at the Humanitas Clinical Institute in Rozzano and Professor of Reconstructive and Aesthetic Plastic Surgery at the University of Milan, Marco Klinger is also Director of the School of Specialization in Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery from the same university. Throughout his career he has performed well 45,000 operations and is the author of more 200 publications scientific: for him it is above all a question of being a good doctor, therefore an excellent surgeon capable of giving not only beauty but also the restoration of form and function, without ever forgetting the health of the patient. Often present in television talk shows, he was the protagonist of the very popular show for several months Plastic – Ultra-beauty broadcast on Italia 1 in 2011 with a share that exceeded 10%. In 2018, during the congress of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), he held the Malinic Conference, considered the world’s highest honor in plastic surgery. Klinger enjoys traveling and enjoys music which he often listens to while operating. He defines himself as a passionate and constant sportsman who proclaims himself a fan of Inter. His heart beats fast for the trulli of Ceglie Messapica and, although he is a beginner in the field of cooking, he assures that he recently learned how to make an apple pie. Who knows why it reassures us more to imagine him with a scalpel in his hand…
Professor, why does a woman use a cosmetic surgeon?
“Getting closer to your aesthetic ideal. Indeed, to truly become herself. Often, in fact, those who decide to eliminate the physical characteristic that lives as a defect (from a large nose to too pronounced buttocks and hips) see in this characteristic a limitation, a “mark” that they do not want not. The 50-year-old lady, with a withered face but who feels young, “needs” to lessen the signs of aging to be perceived by all in the same way as her. Wrinkles and sagging, for a patient of this type, are an obstacle that prevents you from living the life you want, the way you want.
Do the psychological issues outweigh the seemingly physical issues?
“As far as cosmetic surgery is concerned, we can say that we don’t start from physical problems, but rather from the desire to see ourselves as different, to see ourselves adhering to this ideal self-image. In some cases, the gap between how-you-are and how-you-would-like-to-be determines a form of psychological malaise, which can translate into a lack of self-esteem and insecurity. It is important to recognize these patients and accompany them, as a good psychologist would do, in understanding their deep desires, as well as distinguishing what can be achieved with cosmetic surgery from what must be identified for good reasons. different”.
In some cases, surgery is necessary to repair certain damage, such as a scar caused on purpose.
“In this case, we are in the field of reconstructive surgery which is the other branch of plastic surgery. It is no coincidence that the Specialty is defined as “reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgery”, the purpose of which is to restore form and function lost due to disease or trauma, or absent due to congenital or developmental malformation. Reconstructive plastic surgery recreates the bodily integrity of a woman operated on for breast cancer and gives people with reduced mobility freedom from retracted scars left by a bad burn, to name just two examples. And it’s still reconstructive surgery to create correct and natural breasts in women who, for example, have morphological abnormalities.”
What aesthetic ideal does today’s woman want to adhere to?
“Obviously everyone has their ideals and tastes, but wanting to find frequent and common elements, I would say that the present is dominated by athletic women, thin but not very thin. Especially for the face and the body today, a great value is rightly placed on naturalness. In the past we have seen very showy necklines, very pronounced lips: today, retouching that enhances natural beauty is seen as desirable and successful.”
Most likely, he had to deal with the issue of gender identity. What happens in the body and mind of those who decide to change sex?
“Because of my university and hospital training, I have never really approached gender change. Certainly, patients who encounter this problem face great discomfort and it is important that they can be confronted with serious and prepared professionals. In Italy there are centers capable of solving these problems better than others, since they have units that bring together all the specialists involved in sex reassignment operations: urologist, gynecologist, andrologist, endocrinologist, psychologist and plastic surgeon . If I can give advice to these patients, it is precisely to find public structures capable of approaching the problem from all angles.
To what extent is the use of cosmetic surgery a symptom of existential discomfort?
“I think that today the media, and social networks in particular, contribute to creating a world where it is very important to be beautiful, young and in shape. I know I’m not saying anything original in saying that outward appearance is much more important these days than in the past. Existential malaise, if we want to define it that way, is therefore a transformation of culture and society. Someone is very sensitive to the “imperative” young and beautiful and to have self-confidence and regain the joy of living and good humor, he needs a beautiful and young “envelope”. Everything therefore depends on the extent to which desires and trials are experienced. In general, I think there is nothing wrong with having surgery to feel better. I have an absolutely secular spirit in this and I think that surgery is a tool at the service of our well-being, in the same way as philosophy, art, sport. If the use of cosmetic surgery does not generate health problems, if this recourse is done in a free and reasonable way, why give up? “.
Does a professional like you encourage or try to dissuade a convinced person to resolve the reasons for their dissatisfaction with an intervention?
“If a patient is thinking of reuniting with the partner who left her just by adding two bra sizes, I would definitely advise against it. If a patient sees her nose badly, and it is disproportionate to her face, I tell her that I can help her create a more harmonious profile capable of better highlighting her eyes and her mouth. So, to answer the question, it is important that the desires are rational, realistic and above all based on total autonomy of thought, avoiding having to please someone. With these assumptions, cosmetic surgery can really help to give absolute serenity and security.”