The Stealthy Lies People Tell to Cover up Their Plastic Surgery
Just because Kim K has been an open book about her Botox and Christie Brinkley admits to a regimen of fillers and laser treatments, doesn’t mean everyone is now open about their jabs, nips, tucks, and other skin-saving procedures. For many, a reticence remains, and—fearing stigma or backlash or something else–they keep it under wraps.
The web of lies woven to explain away a sudden lack of lines, the hefty price tag of a cutting edge procedure, or a long weekend spent on lockdown at home can be rather impressive. They range from why-didn’t-I-think-of-that easy to completely ridiculous.
Without naming names, we asked doctors (and other in-the-know secret-keepers) from coast to coast to clue us in on the best and biggest whoppers. Whether you want to snag one of these excuses for yourself or ferret out a
Covering Up the Money Trail
Payment is often the final thing a patient takes care of before leaving the doctor’s office, but it’s the first thing some patients need to address, says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology in New York City. Some people want to keep their spouse in the dark, but when you share a credit card account, that’s tricky. So this is one case where cash is king, says NYC dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. We’re talking bags full of cash—ransom style.
Patients go to great lengths to spread out their procedures and costs to fly under the “husband radar.”
Or, there’s the cash-card combo, which can work to make payments less obvious when the statement comes due. “I’ve even had women use a combination of credit cards and cash to pay for treatments, or asked the office to split the payments and charge it all separately over a week or two,” says Sejal Shah, MD, a dermatologist at SmarterSkin Dermatology in NYC.
Other patients go to great lengths to spread out their procedures and costs to fly under the “husband radar” and come in weekly, to have one little thing done at a time —instead of the more time efficient one appointment for it all—says Nazarian. “So one day will be Botox, a week later, a laser procedure, then a peel. This results in smaller charges to their cards.”
So what’s the threshold for cash versus credit? According to Anthony Youn, MD, a Detroit plastic surgeon
Using gift cards for financial subterfuge is another scheme, notes Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, a celebrity cosmetic dermatologist and founder of PFrankMD. “When we started offering gift cards a few years ago, we noticed that people would buy them for themselves, put money on the card in times when they had the money to do so, and then use them as an untraceable credit card to keep the cost from judging eyes.”
Then there’s the gambit of enlisting a family member to chalk up the dough on your behalf. For example, to keep the genesis of their gleaming new chompers a secret from a spouse (which, for some reason, patients sometimes do!), New York City super-dentist Michael Apa, DDS, has had veneer patients enlist other family members—mother, father, brothers, sisters—to put the treatment on their cards. Shah has seen many patients have their parents put the cost of fillers or Botox on their tab, lest their child’s spouse
Timing Is Everything
When and how often you come in for treatments is as important to
The holiday season, in particular, can work in your favor, notes Robert Anolik, MD, a dermatologist at Laser & Skin Surgery Center in NYC, since that’s when many patients are more likely to have downtime, out of sight from friends, colleagues or neighbors. “I had a patient come in for a laser resurfacing procedure and he said he was about to run off to St. Bart’s to heal away from anyone he knew,” says Anolik. “We ultimately postponed the procedure, though, because the trip involved a lot of beach time and in the few weeks after strong lasers, you want to stay out of the sun.”
There’s also the tactic of dovetailing your filler or Botox around another medically-necessary procedure or surgery that’s already on the calendar, says Jennifer MacGregor, MD, a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology, which can help a patient account for the downtime or time off of work.
Nazarian cites one California-based patient who “pretends she’s on a business trip and flies in from Cali for her cosmetic work! By the time she flies back she’s mostly recovered from the procedures.”
And don’t forget about the old I’m fresh off a vacation: People routinely get Botox right before a trip, says Anne Chapas, MD, the founder of Union Square Laser Dermatology. “At the end of the week, when the Botox erased the forehead lines, a husband told one of my patients that the vacation must have helped because she looks really well rested.”
Behind the Lumps, Bumps, and Bruises
Much as the dog still manages to eat so much homework, pets and babies sometimes bear the brunt of the blame for bruises caused by cosmetic work. The toddler and the hard, plastic toy that made contact with the thing skin near the eye, the car door to the chin, the kitchen cabinet that went wayward— all common ways to explain away a back and blue, says Heidi Waldorf, MD, a dermatologist in Nanuet, NY.
For puffy post-filler lips, one patient told her husband and friends she was having an allergic to reaction to something she ate at a Chinese restaurant.
"I’ve had patients say their bruises were from walking into a door, falling downstairs or even having dental work,” says NYC dermatologist Joshua Zeichner. “One patient told me that a friend was concerned her husband was abusing her when she really would not admit to having fillers.” Speaking of husbands: one of Anolik’s patients told her friends that the small bruises on her neck—from neck-band Botox—were hickeys from
Cats have a rep for being mischievous already, so perhaps it’s only natural that Chapas, recalls a patient who used a feline fib. “He had mild bruising after a laser to treat blood vessels and told people that his cat attacked him as he was sleeping.” Or there’s always the attack of the killer weeds: “When patients have small scabs on their hands following
For puffy post-filler lips there’s the fishy "I ate shellfish,” say some of Engelman’s patients, while Papri Sarkar, MD, a dermatologist in Brookline, MA, says gluten is the scapegoat for many of her patients’ lip puffiness. One of New York City dermatologist Elizabeth Hale’s patients told her husband and friends “she was having an allergic to reaction to something she ate at a Chinese restaurant,” perhaps relying on lingering MSG fears for what is otherwise a rather vague excuse.
Red, peeling, or tender skin can be caused by to an “eczema flare-up, or a bad reaction to a new cream or household cleaning agent,” says Waldorf. And the ice packs, arnica pads or pain reliever you’re popping for any post-procedure pain? Just a new headache remedy, winks Waldorf
Fibs to Fake Out the Generally Clueless
And then there’s just hoping your friends or spouse are rather oblivious—both woefully uninformed about cosmetic procedures overall and/or just not that observant of the lines, sags, and spots of other peoples’ looks. When you suddenly look lineless, poreless, or newly aglow, there’s
For patients who want to keep their “work” private, a big change to another aspect of their appearance can be a great distraction during the big reveal, says Lara Devgan, MD, an NYC plastic surgeon and Chief Medical Officer of RealSelf. "For example, bright red lipstick or
There are plenty of ideas for distracting the easily distractible, says Jordana Mattioli, a licensed aesthetician at Complete Skin MD in New York City. “Some patients get spray tans or even get eyelash extensions.”
And finally, nearly all of the docs interviewed say there’s one option to fall back on—especially if it’s
*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors