Reality TV Could be Boosting Plastic Surgery Business

New Media Producer: Brad Maglinger

One Evansville plastic surgeon is reporting up to a 20 percent spike in business this year and he thinks it has a lot to do with these reality makeover shows. He likes the fact that plastic surgery is in the spotlight, but wants to make sure patients aren't getting the wrong idea about what it entails.

Contestants on Fox's reality show, "The Swan" are assigned a team of experts: personal trainers, therapists, dentists and cosmetic surgeons to help them transform their lives. The catch is they don't get to see the results until months later during the big "reveal" episode, at which point one of them is chosen each week to move on to a pageant to become to the "Ultimate Swan."

"I have some real problems with "The Swan," says plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Orr.

Dr. Orr says it's not ethical for patients to get plastic surgery in a contest setting since that may encourage them to get more work done than they really need. There is something else that really bothers him. "How can you ethically discuss a procedure with a patient, keep them full informed, explain to them every step along the way and help them through their recovery period if you keep their final results secret from them for three months?"

Orr wonders what would happen if a contestant suffers a serious complication, something that he says is a real possibility with the amount of plastic surgery these patients are having.

"The show gives the impression that you can bring someone in and do a face lift, a brow lift, eyelids, breast implants, liposuction, tummy tuck and butt lift all in about five hours and in half an hour they're fully recovered," says Dr. Orr. "Most plastic surgeons will tell you, you actually will not get as good of a result if you do too many things at once."

Dr. Orr says the longer a patient is in the operating room, the higher the risk for bleeding, anesthetic complications or poor results, more lumps, bumps or swelling, exactly what these "Ultimate Swan" hopefuls are trying to swim away from.

Dr. Orr says ABC's "Extreme Makeover" is more ethical, but still sends the wrong message about how much plastic surgery patients can realistically have at one time. As for MTV's "I Want a Famous Face," he says it may give people false hope that they can look like a celebrity. When all a surgeon can really do is improve what you already have.

To find out more about plastic surgery, visit the Web site of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons at  or call 1-888-4-PLASTIC.